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Continuing With The Art Experiment

I carved the pot I made on Sunday. I had jury duty yesterday so I had to take a day off from mud. I decided this pot would feature a night scene – mountains, sky and a full moon.


The clay boogers get removed tomorrow. If I try to get rid of them at this stage of drying, I’ll just smoosh them around.

At the moment, I’m thinking about a matte shino for the mountains. Very dark blue underglaze for the sky and a white full moon. Clear glaze over the sky and moon.

The pot I made this morning is wrapped in plastic, drying slowly, and I’m working on deciding how I want to decorate the pot. The clay for this morning’s pot came from the reclaim bucket. It’s a combination of tan, white and chocolate clays. Haven’t a clue how much of each is in that bucket. I do like how the reclaimed clay feels and that it’s easy to work with. I won’t have any idea about how dark the clay will be until after I get it bisque fired. I prefer to work with white clay because I like how bright the colors of the glazes are. No matter what glaze, the glaze comes out subdued when it’s used with a brown clay. Subdued and subtle could make for an interesting night scene.

I’ve gotten excited about this art project where I take one form and emulate Arts & Crafts pottery.  Many of the nature scenes on the Arts & Crafts pots came from the plants and animals living near where the potter was working. While there are well known Arts & Crafts movements from several places around the US, the movement seems to have bypassed New Mexico. We have Native American pottery, but not Arts & Crafts.

I want to do some pots with flowers that grow in my back yard, so I took photos this morning to be used for sketches. DSCN9652DSCN9653

The common name for these are Chocolate Flowers. They bloom in the morning and and nothing but seed pod by the afternoon. The flowers smell like chocolate. I thought the leaves were interesting. I’ll have to play around in my sketchbook and come up with some designs.


A lot of work has gone into breeding sunflowers over the last several years. Sunflowers are no longer a big flower, yellow petals, brown center searched atop a tall stalk. These plants are in the 3′ – 8′ height range. The flowers are smaller which is nice because the small birds can eat the seeds. The big birds are too big for these sunflowers. I also love the different flower colors. I’ll be playing around with sketches of sunflowers to see what I can create.

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Mud…. It Has The Ability To Heal

I’m still on the depressed side of center, so I spent the morning playing in the mud. After a couple weeks of 100+ temperatures, it’s a cool 90 degrees out. Not having the excuse of excessive heat, I wedged some reclaim. I was going to use the reclaim after  I finished the pot on which I was working…. but I got hungry and we’re now having thunder and lightening. Plus intense wind.

Recently, I bought a couple books for reference: Art Deco And Modernist Ceramics and The Arts & Crafts of Newcomb Pottery. As I was studying the photos, I started to ignore the decoration and just look at the shapes. I went on line and found about a gazillion images of Arts and Crafts pottery. I began to see just shape and I downloaded several images. They got filed in three broad categories: bottom larger than top; top larger than bottom; and cylinder. I started thinking about what would happen if I made a number of pieces in one category and decorated them all differently. What would it look like for Arts and Crafts pottery to feature southwest flora – cactus, yucca, Mexican poppies. Instead of the very famous Moon and Trees piece from Newcomb Pottery, what if I did mountains and moon. I have mountains behind my house. Okay, so that’s north of me but it’s my art and I can put the moon wherever I want to put it.

We’ve got the Peaceable Kingdom in our back yard. What if my pottery featured quail, ground squirrels,  rabbits, and what the heck – maybe a rattlesnake.

Because I coil build, it takes a couple hours to build one of these vases. DSCN9631DSCN9630DSCN9629

This was yesterday’s vase that I carved this morning. You can see some of my work from the last glaze fire, pieces ready to be glaze fired, pieces ready to be bisque fired, and a few of my herb pots complete with herbs.

I didn’t measure this vase, but it’s 4″ in diameter at the bottom and is tall enough for snapdragons, carnations and other medium length stemmed flowers.

I grow sunflowers and thought it would be nice to have a vase for sunflowers. That would be for next year when I plant the sunflowers that don’t have pollen. DSCN9628

This one started out 5″ in diameter at the base and is about 3″ taller than the first one. I haven’t decided how I’m going to decorate it. Some of the pieces will be carved, some will be decorated using assorted glazes and some will be decorated using underglaze. I think this vase might be a suitable size for about 5 sunflowers.

Here are some pieces from my last glaze firing. IMG_1731

Once I finally got a decent mug shape, I made lots of mugs. This one is an experiment. I used Rainforest celadon in the carving and Fog celadon over the top. I really like this combination.


Another experiment. I used Root Beer glaze in the carving and Marigold celadon over the top. I was hoping the Root Beer would bleed through. I’m not sure if I like it.


More Root Beer in the carving and either Chai Matte or Frosted Melon over the top. I did keep notes, but my notes are in the Summer Studio and I’m not. Clay dust and laptops are not compatible.


Cacao Matte shino.


I have a design for a purse that I’m working on. The purse, which will be perfect, will feature accoutrements. One should always have accoutrements. These are some of the ceramic buttons. I used the end of one of my carving tools to press texture that looks like staples gone crazy into the buttons.

I’m feeling closer to center than I felt this morning before I started playing in the mud. A few more pots, a few more earrings, a few more buttons, and I just might hit center.

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Yesterday was my youngest sister’s yahrzeit –  the anniversary of her death. I have two crappy days each year – April 1, Tina’s  birthday and June 24, the day she died. Losing a sibling is hard. My mother made it harder. She threatened my other sister and brother with being cut out of the will if either of them told me Tina was sick or that she died. My revenge is that my mother spent the last years of her life in a nursing home so there was nothing left to inherit. My brother and sister sold their humanity for nothing. Pretty fitting.

Art can make anything better. And so I made art. I’m pushing myself to have an Art on the Back Patio Sale, so I’m making lots of art.


I think we were in Hawaii when we came across a lady who made beaded straps that wound around a bra strap thereby making bra straps joined by spaghetti straps look pretty. You’d think something like that would be simple to make. The making is simple, the engineering isn’t. I used lobster claw clasps with the idea that they could  be snapped around a bra strap. Then I realized not all bra straps are made equal. Okay….. rethink this. How about having seed beads at the ends so the claw can go around the beads.

How long to make these…… It took three tries to get it right. How to make it sparkly without using crystals with sharp edges. It’s bad enough to have a bra strap cutting into your shoulder. Having both a bra strap and crystals cutting into your shoulder would be worse. I’m not sure I have this figured out yet. I’ll have to see how well they sell before making a drawer full of them.


I have magpie tendencies and I love sparkly things. I also have a collection of Swarovski crystals that need to be put into jewelry. Like the earrings above.

Or the earrings below.


I still felt sad, depressed, angry. Last night at services, kaddish was said for those we loved who died at this time in years past, including my sister. When I feel sad or depressed, I dress in a way to help my mood. I chose my outfit for services last night with depression in mind. I wore a skirt and blouse made from a positive and negative print. The skirt has huge black leaves on a white background. The blouse has huge white leaves on a black background. I chose the black and white kippah – the one with the fluffy black feather. I made earrings specially for services. I put purple mousse in my hair. Tina was a hairdresser and a friend had suggested, several years back, that I could celebrate Tina’s life on the yahrzeit.


The beads at the bottom are dice with an aurora borealis finish.

The skirt, blouse, kippah, purple hair and earrings didn’t help. I was still depressed. I remember the day Tina was born. I was nine, the oldest, and I wouldn’t be 10 for another five months. It was a Sunday and we were supposed to go to church. My mother and her husband sat on the sofa and my mother looked so depressed. Not in pain but depressed. One of the neighbors took us kids, Tina was the youngest, to church. When we came home, we were told we had a sister. My brother burst into tears saying he had been promised a brother.

When Tina had her first period, she didn’t think it was necessary to mention it to anyone. She knew there were feminine supplies in the bathroom (with four women in the house, there are probably still left over feminine supplies in that bathroom). Tina picked out a supply, pinned it in her pants and went on with life. That’s when I knew I’d never have to worry about her.

Long before it became an Olympic sport, when it was called Hot Dogging, my sister went skiing with her friends. Tina could water ski, but she had never been skiing on snow. She tore down that hill attacking every bump, lump and flat spot. By the end of the day, it was sleeting. The last run, Tina came down the hill with her eyes closed. Her friends asked her where she learned to Hot Dog. That’s when she told them she didn’t know how to ski.

I have a beginning to Tina’s life. I have a middle of her life. I don’t have an end. A bookend is missing and the books – her life – tumble onto the shelf never ever to be properly arranged.

Tina passed away 19 years ago. I’m still waiting for the hurt to end. Art doesn’t stop the hurt. Special art doesn’t stop the hurt.

On the anniversary of a loved one’s death, we say Kaddish – the Mourner’s Prayer. Kaddish, in Hebrew, transliteration and English is here:

The prayer ends:

Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom, aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru, Amein.

He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us and upon all Israel. Now say: Amen.



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Getting Back To Art or It’s Not Called Art Therapy For Nothing

Today, I spent quality time with myself making art. Having bisque fired maybe 2/3 of the greenware, it’s now time for me to glaze. I can take 3-4 hours of glazing before I have to stop. Yesterday,  I glazed some of the bowls. Today, I glazed some of the mugs.


This is one of the mugs that has a stylized pine tree carved into it. Each mug has three trees. I wanted to do a little testing. I filled in the incised parts with a glaze called Root Beer. I want to see if I glazed over the Root Beer with another glaze, if the Root Beer would bleed through. Six pine trees, and it took me an hour to glaze just the trees. For the rest of the mugs, the insides of both were glazed with a lavender celadon. The outside of one is glazed with a marigold celadon and the outside of another is glazed with Frosted Melon.

Next, I finished up a zippered tote. This is the second tote on my way to figuring out the perfect purse. This one has two outside zippered pockets and two inner patch pockets.

The zippered pockets were….. interesting. The video that teaches how to sew in a zippered pocket is here:

First, I sewed the pocket lining to the wrong side of the outside of the tote. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except I had already cut the opening. I had to rip out the stitches, carefully match up the cut lines, and resew the pocket lining.

Next, I learned that Misty Fuze is NOT a good way to attach a zipper. I just wanted the zipper to be still without pins until I got it sewn in. The zipper wasn’t centered properly, so I had to do some fancy stitching to get the zipper in and top stitched.

The outside fabric for this tote is upholstery fabric. Because the fabric didn’t have any body, I used a stiff interfacing. That stiff interfacing made putting in the zippered pockets a bear. I had to fight the interfacing with each seam.

Yesterday, armed with a 50% off coupon for JoAnn’s, I bought some double sided clear tape that washes away. That did a far better job of holding the zipper where I wanted it until I could get it stitched down.

I had better luck with the patch pockets. I sandwiched two pieces of fabric around a piece of stiff interfacing. Then I used the serger to serge all around the edges. That saved me from trying to turn the patch pockets inside out. I wanted one pocket for pens, so that pocket has no closure. The other pocket has a velcro closure. The double sided tape helped with attaching the velcro. When I wanted to attach the patch pocket, I used the velcro to hold the pocket in place while I stitched the edges.


I didn’t interface the lining of the top of the bag where the recessed zipper is attached. That wasn’t a great idea.


You can see the problems I had attaching the zipper for one of the zippered pockets.

I’ll live with this tote bag for a while and then draft the perfect purse.

The sunflowers started blooming yesterday.


I’ve never before been able to grow a sunflower this color.


We’ll save a few of the heads for the seeds. We used to grow sunflowers when we lived in Western New York. We’d save a few heads for the seeds and plant those seeds the next spring. I noticed that each year, the multi-headed sunflowers were multier headed each year.

I was playing a bit with the telephoto lens.


We buy quail blocks, what the dove is sitting on in the above photo, to feed the quail. You feed quail, you get dove.

One more thing I made today. DSCN9611

I got a new King Arthur Flour Baker’s catalog the other day and there was a recipe for lemon sherbet in the catalog. I squeezed lemons, added almond milk, and turned it into sherbet.

The clay, the fabric, the lemon juice, the birds…. it was almost enough to allow me to forget the insanity that reigns in the US right now.

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It’s Time To Do Something

You say you are tired of mass shootings? That the government should ban assault rifles? Then do something about it.

Are you registered to vote? If you are 18 or older and are not a convicted felon and are not registered to vote – register. TODAY. NOW.

If you are a registered voter, do you vote? If not, shame on you. Quit bitching about the government and vote.

Do you know who your representatives in Washington are?

Find your senators here:

Find your representative here:

You want assault rifles banned? Tell your representatives. TODAY. NOW.

You want to tell the NRA the government is not for sale? Tell your representatives. TODAY. NOW.

Here’s what I just e-mailed to my senators and representative in the house of representatives:

I have some questions and your answers will determine how I vote.

Have you ever accepted money from NRA, SCOPE or any other group advocating ownership of firearms?

If so, how much money did you receive throughout your political career and when did you receive it?

What are you doing to ban assault rifles?


Feel free to ask your representatives the same questions. Copy and paste if you like.


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I Want To Say Something. I Don’t Know What To Say

I want to say something, but I don’t know what.

A man with an assault rifle murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando. A man with an assault rifle and stuff that could make a bomb was arrested in Los Angeles. People are afraid to go to Gay Pride events.

People say we must ban assault rifles.

People say we must keep a closer watch on Muslims.

People say a lot of stuff.

Violence fueled by hatred is a complex problem. Like all complex problems, simple, one-measure solutions won’t solve violence fueled by hatred.

Banning assault rifles is a start. If you’ve ever purchased a firearm from a gun store or other store selling guns, you know what constitutes gun control in this country. When I bought my rifle, I had to fill out one of these forms. I was required to answer questions such as:

“Are you in the United States illegally?”

“Are you a convicted felon?”

“Have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”

I don’t remember the rest of the stupid questions. The clerk believed me when I checked “No” after each question. The clerk said nothing when I told him that I believed in gun control but this form certainly wasn’t gun control.

Background check before buying a pistol. Sounds good. It’s not. In New York, one needs to have a permit before being able to purchase a handgun. Because of the permit requirement, there’s no background check at the point of sale of a handgun. What’s the background check like? Only a tad sillier than the form in the gun store.

Before I explain the pistol permit process, I need to tell you that my husband has never hit me. I have never hit him. We’re not afraid of each other. I’m a better shot than he is.

A police officer came to our house, asked my husband why he wanted a gun (you better not say for protection if you’re in NY – you want that gun for target shooting). The officer then turned to me and asked me if I was okay with my husband having a handgun. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Who trained this officer? If I were afraid of my husband having a handgun, I certainly wouldn’t tell an officer who was sitting next to my husband when the question was asked. When another police officer came to interview me prior to my getting a pistol permit, I was asked if my husband was okay with me having a handgun. This was at a time when my husband wasn’t home. Because I wanted the pistol permit, I said yes. What I wanted to say was, how do you know I’m not getting this pistol permit so I can buy a pistol and blow the SOB away the next time he hits me?

So much for gun control.

As long as there is a secondary market for firearms, there will be no gun control. I can go to a flea market, garage sale, gun show, and buy any gun I want from a private individual. There is no form with stupid questions. There is no background check. There is cash exchanged for a firearm.

I was a criminal defense attorney for more than 21 years. My clients never had any problem buying guns. One even told me he bought a 9mm handgun because he wanted to shoot rabbits. Boy was he surprised when I told him that was the wrong gun for shooting rabbits. A bullet that size ruins too much meat.

If gun control, as we currently have it, isn’t going to solve the violence problem, what should we do?

We can arm ourselves with something far stronger than assault rifles. We can teach ourselves, our neighbors, our colleagues, our children, our parents, our friends to accept differences between people. To embrace the differences. To honor differences. Every one of us can do something to stop hatred.

Posted in Sports Memories

Give Yourself A Choice, Not A Chance

Gordie Howe passed away. He was 88. When the WHA crumbled and some of the WHA teams, including the Hartford Whalers, were swallowed by the NHL, Gordie stayed with the Whalers for one final season. He played a total of 32 seasons, but he was never one of the top paid players until his wife, Colleen, became his agent during a time when women were expected to emulate June Cleaver. At one of the Hockey Hall of Fame dinners I overheard a Canadian TV sportscaster tell Colleen she was viewed with fear by hockey team managers because she was “one gutsy broad”.

I met Gordie when he played his final NHL season. I was covering the Buffalo Sabres for a small newspaper in Lockport, NY. When Gordie skated out onto the ice in Buffalo, the crowd, cheered and gave him a standing ovation. Most of the crowd didn’t come to see a hockey game. They came to see Gordie Howe.

After the game, I walked into the Whaler’s locker room – something June Cleaver would never do and something most women, particularly the very few women sports writers, would never do. When he saw me, Gordie asked, “When the hell did they start letting women in the locker room?” I didn’t leave.

I remember only a few things from that night 37 years ago. I remember Gordie saying he always told his sons, “Give yourself a choice not a chance.” He was proud that two of his sons played professional hockey. He said he and Colleen couldn’t be prouder of their son Murray who chose to become a physician. At the time, the creator of the Tank McNamara cartoon had done a few days’ of cartoons about the world’s oldest hockey player and his goal to play professional hockey with his grandsons. I asked Gordie about that. Gordie responded that the creator of the cartoon couldn’t count. Gordie had two grandsons, and his daughter was expected to give birth very soon.

Gordie had another thing to say about women in the locker room. “I’ve only got one secret and I’m keeping it.”

I never did learn what that secret was. I never looked for the secret either. I did get Gordie’s autograph for my husband.

May Gordie’s memory be for a blessing.

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How Not To Get Swirls

If you gently mix two colors of clay, you can throw a pot with swirled colors. I’m trying to achieve the same swirls with coil building. I don’t throw. If I want that much aggravation, I can always go back to being employed.

Not getting the swirls on the mugs that got attached by the critter, I decided to mix white clay and chocolate clay. I couldn’t see swirls when the pieces were finished, so I tried carving into them to reveal swirls.


At least the mug wasn’t attacked by critters.


So that didn’t work too well. You can see on the bottom of the bowl that I did get swirls when I rolled out a slab for the bottom.

Next, I made thicker texture stamps. The first batch were from a 3/8″ thick slab and I put handles on the backs. A friend suggested rolling the slab thicker and the stamps wouldn’t need handles. Plus, the stamps sans handles would be easier to store.


I wanted a stamp for my initials. That’s a dalet and a lamed. My name in English is Deborah Lee. In Hebrew it’s Devorah Leah. Hence, the dalet (d sound) and the lamed (l sound). Making Hebrew letters backwards so they will stamp forwards is disorienting.


Here are all the stamps. I used the laguna chocolate clay because I don’t like using it for pieces that will be fired to ^5. Stamps only need to be bisque fired to be usable.


Jim made me drape molds for a dinner plate, pie plate, and an oversized pie plate suitable for quiche. The white stuff inside the pie plate is corn starch. I roll out a slab, sprinkle corn starch all over the slab and then put the slab on the mold. The cornstarch keeps the clay from sticking to the mold. I’m not pleased with how the rim came out.


This is the mold Jim made me. Cleats on the bottom to make it easier to pick up.

The experiments will continue. For now, I have to get all of my pieces ready to be bisque fired this weekend. I’m putting white terra sig on the bottoms of the pieces so that the bottom will be smooth. I’ve got about 5 pieces that need terra sig.


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A Few Thoughts on Rape, Adversity, and Overcoming

On June 4, 2016, the Washington Post printed an article about a woman who had been raped, or “digitally penetrated” as the California statute says, after getting drunk at a party. Brock Turner, once an all-American swimmer at Stanford University, was sentenced to 6 months in jail. Not prison  – jail.

The woman who was a victim and is now a survivor, made a statement in court that far surpasses anything I’ve ever hear during 22 years practicing criminal defense. The survivor’s statement can be read here:

Since June 4, there have been news articles about Turner’s father’s statement asking for leniency. ” His father wrote:

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan A. Turner wrote in a letter arguing that his son should receive probation, not jail time. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

The link for the Washington Post article is here:

Here’s what I would like to say to Brock Turner:  You got away with rape. Not much happened to you. You have no concept of what you did or that what you did was wrong. I feel sorry for you. I’m also outraged. You deserve prison time. You deserve to have to do community service working with and watching sexual assault victims. Watching their anguish. Watching their pain. Watching them endure what you did to another woman. You need to learn the consequences of your actions. If you don’t, we all pay a price. You pay by getting to go out and rape again. You pay because next time, you won’t get away with it. We pay because we pay for the housing, feeding, medical caring of every prisoner in the US. Your next victim pays the highest price – loss of trust, loss of self worth, nightmares and hideous memories, years of therapy.

To Brock Turner’s father, I would like to say this: If you think rape is “20 minutes of activity,” then not only have you raised your son to be a monster, but you, sir, are a monster as well. Would you make the same statement had the victim been your daughter? Your wife? Your sister? Your mother? Or You?  It’s the same “activity.”

To the victim, I would like to say this: Once you were a victim. Now, you’re a remarkable survivor. You stood up for yourself. You testified in open court where you had to recount the worst moments of your life. When you did that, you gave other women the courage to do the same. You made a statement in court that is amazing, powerful, and is rocking the nation’s notions about sexual assault. You have shown what university and college administrators work tirelessly to keep hidden. You’ve show that race and economic class skew the criminal justice system in a manner that is truly criminal. You have accomplished in the past year and especially in the past three days, more than I have in a lifetime. You are my hero.

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Mud Experiments

I had some dried out clay and thought it was a tan mid-fire clay. Nope. It’s Laguna’s chocolate clay. I don’t care for this clay. It’s finicky, any temp higher than ^6 results in the piece shattering. The only way I have found to use this clay is to mix it with another clay. I saw that the Laguna chocolate clay is a different color than New Mexico Clay chocolate clay. I squished both clays together, did only a bit of mixing, and proceeded to build a couple mugs. I didn’t have time to put on handles when I got done, so I put plastic bags over the mugs. This technique works well; the mugs are just the right degree of dry for attaching handles the next morning. Until some critter thinks mugs are either edible or toys. One mug was laying on its side relatively undamaged. The other mug was flat on one side. When I unwrapped the plastic from that mug, I saw that whatever critter came by tore the plastic bag in several places, and left poke holes in the mug. I put handles on the mugs. I figured the Deb & Critter collaboration could live as it was.


I haven’t been able to figure out what sort of critter tried to be an artist.

As you can see, the swirl experiment isn’t working well. There may be some color differences that will be visible after glaze firing, but I’m not counting on that.

For my next swirl experiment, I mixed chocolate clay with white stoneware. Visions of chocolate swirled milk glass danced in my head.


See all the nice white swirls? Me neither.

Next experiment featured pinch pots.


These have a hint of swirl, but not what I was expecting.

I assumed that the lack of white showing was because I didn’t use enough white clay. I added more white clay before starting to build another mug this morning. No photos of that mug yet, but it looks a whole lot like the one above the pinch pots.

To give you an idea of the size of the pinch pots….


I use the textured part of the handle of a needle tool to measure how high to make my mugs.

There was one nice surprise this morning.


The first zinnia of the summer.

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The World is my University

It amazes me that there is so much available on youtube. All you need is the ability to read, access to the internet, and you can learn pretty much anything.

I wanted to make a purse with zippered pockets. Just one tiny problem. You’d think after sewing for 52 years I’d know how to put in a zipper. Nope. Fortunately, there’s youtube. I found a video for inserting a recessed zipper in a tote bag. It’s not a purse, but it’s a start.


The finished bag. I used some upholstery fabric that Jim got for me when he worked for Gunlocke in the 90’s. Employees could buy leftover upholstery fabric for $1 a yard. The lining is fabric left over from a baby quilt I made for a friend’s second child.


The recessed zipper. It’s not an award winning insertion, but it’s the best insertion I’ve ever done.


Both ends of the zipper. The beginning of the zipper is where I had to fix zipper.

I had bought a roll of zipper tape with a dozen sliders. Measure what you need, cut that amount of zipper, and insert the zipper. I did well until I zipped the zipper closed and pulled the slider right off the zipper. I had neglected to sew a stop onto the zipper.

Back to youtube where I discovered it’s pretty easy to reattach the slider.

Project #2 will be a tote with a recessed zipper, inside zipper pockets and an outside zipper pocket.

Project #3 will be design and make the purse that I want.

Here’s the recessed zipper video:

Here’s the fix the zipper video: