Archive | Creating Art RSS feed for this section

Fishy Cento

Britain’s National Gallery recently started #artgold on Twitter to promote their Art Gold film series. People and museums took over the hashtag, tweeting golden artifacts, golden jewelry, and art of gold. I got into the act, too, because my wall hanging Fishy Cento was partly inspired by a painting in the National Gallery.

Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

I was preparing artwork for my first solo exhibit, which opened in the winter of 2002 at the Colour Museum in Bradford, U. K. In other words, I was preoccupied with wall hangings most of the time.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

“Mom, will you ever make me a wall hanging?” asked my then six-year-old daughter, Eva, with a look of yearning on her sweet face. How could I resist? She loved fish, so we agreed on a fishy wall hanging.

The fish in her own aquarium were the models, but they didn’t take orders very well. “Hey, fish! Hold still, so I can draw you!”


They darted around, ignoring me. Eventually, though, I cobbled together a pretty good sketch Eva’s fish, and they appear in Fishy Cento. Speedy is the Golden Orfe and I think the red fish is Bulgey.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

When it came time to create a background for these woolly fish, my process came to a standstill. The aquarium water was clear, so the background to the actual fish was the wall behind the aquarium. Black makes bright colors pop, but black background seemed too stark. People think of water as being blue, but even if it is blue, you wouldn’t see the blue-ness in the small area the wall hanging portrayed.

My Sheffield friends Betty Spence and Helen Neale and I met for a coffee one day during my struggle (unbeknownst to them) with the background color. Helen had been to the National Gallery in London. She told about a painting of a horse, which had a golden background. No pastures or barns to distract from this horse—oh no—just the horse, surrounded by gold. The painting was probably Whistlejacket (c. 1762), by George Stubbs.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

Bingo! I had my background color. Thank you, Helen!

The next question is, what in the world is a cento? I found it one day when I was reading the dictionary, looking for words with “cent” in them. It can mean ‘a patchwork garment’ or ‘a collection of verse.’

The fish have patchwork garments, so there’s that. I also wrote some fishy verse to use on this wall hanging, but as the piece progressed, it became obvious that the poems wouldn’t fit into the picture. They’ll have to wait for Fishy Cento 2.

In closing, I recommend reading the dictionary. It’s pretty interesting. Also, next time you’re on Twitter, look up #artgold. You’ll see wonders.

See more of my textile art wall hangings in the Gallery section of this website.

Comments { 0 }

Make Your Own Buttons

Make buttons to match your projects

Do you have trouble finding the perfect buttons for your handmade garments? Don’t agonize—make your own! Take a polymer clay button workshop or two from me, Suzann Thompson, author of Polymer Clay for Everyone, learn basic polymer clay technique, and make several stunning button styles.

I offer two 6-hour workshops for beginners, about making polymer clay buttons. Each workshop stands alone, so you can take the workshops in any order. I cover polymer clay basics and hints in both workshops. You’ll take home at least two dozen delightful, machine-washable and dryable buttons.

Even if you’ve never tried polymer clay crafting before, you are welcome to spend a day or two playing—and I do mean playing—with polymer clay.

To book one of these workshops, please email me at knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com.

Make Your Own Buttons Workshop

Faux Lapis from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop

In “Make Your Own Buttons from Polymer Clay” (sometimes I call it “Polymer Clay Button Boutique 1”), we start with a fake or faux lapis button technique. The buttons are complete with sparkly inclusions, just like real lapis.

Easy but effective swirl buttons are next. They are quick to make and customize with the perfect colors for your garment or other project. These are my favorites.

Swirl Button from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop Swirl Buttons from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop

Millefiori is a glass technique that polymer clay crafters have taken over and made their own. We’ll do a group millefiori project, and the buttons will turn out something like this:

Group Millefiori Buttons from Suzann's Workshop Group Millefiori Button Project

After lunch, we make crazy polymer patchwork buttons and learn a clever way to use clay scraps. Here are some crazy patchwork buttons:

Crazy Polymer Patchwork buttons

Make More Buttons Workshop

“Make More Buttons,” sometimes called “Polymer Clay Button Boutique 2,” is another six-hour workshop for beginners. It is completely stand-alone, meaning that you don’t need any experience with polymer clay to take this class. All the buttons we make in this workshop are different from the ones in my other button workshop.

We start with imitation or faux turquoise, then move on to a traditional millefiori design—a flower. The word “millefiori” means “thousand flowers. When you learn this technique, you’ll be surprised at how simple and versatile it is.

Samples from Polymer Clay Button Workshop

After lunch, we tackle mica-shift, a technique that results in sophisticated-looking and subtle buttons. Finally, we make polymer clay mosaic buttons and learn clever ways to use scraps.

Previous Workshops

Here are photos from button workshops I’ve done in the past. Participants had a great time and made lots of fun buttons!

Student Buttons from Polymer Clay Button Workshop  Polymer Clay Button Workshop  Polymer Clay Button Workshop

Grade school students made these buttons in a 4H sewing camp:

Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp

We bake buttons in class. Here they are, lined up for their turn in the toaster oven.

Baking Buttons

My book Polymer Clay for Everyone is out of print, but you can buy it online. often has the book for one cent plus shipping. It’s a bargain!

Comments { 0 }

Artists, Watch for this Clue You’re Being Scammed

It’s great to get an email from someone interested in your art. I’ve made more than one sale through contacts by social media or email. But one “customer” was only interested in parting me from my work and my cash. Luckily, a suspicious mind saved me from losing anything. Here’s the story, which I hope will help you avoid art scammers.

A New Customer?

One day, an email from a Mrs. Robert arrived, asking me about my art. Yay! A possible customer!

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

A couple of things about the letter seemed odd, but I could make excuses for them. First, Mrs. Robert’s email server was, a server located in the Ukraine. With recent news about Russian hacking and meddling in the United States election, I was on heightened alert about anything associated with Russia, which has clear interests in the Ukraine.

Pretty much anyone can sign on with pretty much any email server, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

Mrs. Robert didn’t write in English very well. Many phishing and scamming emails I’ve received are poorly written.

You don’t have to write good English or any other language, to buy a wall hanging, so I overlooked this fact. I sent Mrs. Robert a price list and directed her to my website to see pictures of my work.

A Sale!

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

Next time Mrs. Robert wrote, she said she wanted to purchase my most expensive piece, Puzzling Pinks, a wall hanging with lots of pink crocheted flowers and buttons. I was so happy! I gave her my mailing address, so she could send a check.

I sat back to wait for the check to arrive, before sending the wall hanging. Artists, do not send your artwork to someone you don’t know, until you have the money in the bank. What about sending artwork to people you do know? The best idea is to wait until the money is in the bank, but use your good judgement.

Two weeks later, Mrs. Robert sent another message:

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

Oh good. The check was in the mail. But one thing bothered me about this note. Do you notice that my name is a smaller font than the rest of the letter? The tracking number, which I have masked, was also in a smaller font.

This looked to me like an often-used form letter, which “Mrs. Robert” simply pasted individual names and tracking numbers into. After all, if it was written just to me, why would she change font sizes? My suspicions grew.

The Check

The check arrived. With it, I became even more convinced that “Mrs. Robert” was not quite on the level.

Though Mrs. Robert purportedly lived in Florida, her husband’s check was mailed from a hotel in San Antonio, Texas. It was a cashier’s check with a thermal marker (very impressive), from a man named Larry Bennett, issued by a bank in Colorado.

Okay, my husband and I have different last names, so that wasn’t really a problem. The problem was the amount of the check.

The check was written for $7,900, nearly $3,000 over the agreed purchase price of the wall hanging.

Woo hoo, right?!

Unfortunately, no.

The overpayment was a clear sign I was being scammed.

Scammers often send checks for more than the required amount. They apologize and ask you to please send a money order for the amount they overpaid. Their hope is you will do this before their check clears. Artists, elderly people, and many others, I’m sure, have trustingly sent the overage back to the so-called customer, only to find out that the original check wasn’t good. So you not only don’t get payment for your art, you lose the cash you refunded to the scammer.

I paced around the house, thinking about what to do. I talked to my family. My mom confirmed that overpayment was a scamming technique. She said, “Do not send anything until that check clears.”

My husband had a practical suggestion: “Call the bank and ask them about the check.”

We found the issuing bank online, and I called their customer service line. After asking me for certain information from the check, the bank’s representative said, “Ma’am, I can tell you now, that is a fraudulent check.”

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

My policy is to be polite, so I wrote to Mrs. Robert, telling her that I really needed a check made out in the exact amount we agreed on. It didn’t seem necessary to mention that the original check was fraudulent.

I never heard from Mrs. Robert again.

The Clue and What To Do

The biggest clue to a possible scam is that amount on the check is more than the agreed purchase price.

There’s really no excuse for sending a check written for an incorrect amount. I have made plenty of mistakes when writing checks. When that happens, you just void mistaken check and write a new one. Simple.

Other clues may include the fact that the customer has an unusual email server. Or you may notice odd facts about your communications with the customer. For instance, the font changes on my email that indicated a cut-and-paste form letter.

Pay attention to your instincts. When a situation continues to seem strange or off to you, it probably is. Be alert.

You can be alert and still be polite. Like I said about several things in my story, some unusual facts can be explained very easily.

If your online customer pays by check, it should be written for the correct amount. Allow it to clear your bank before you send your artwork or product to the customer.

Again, send your artwork only after the check clears and the money is in the bank.

Once more. Do not send your product until the payment is cleared at your bank.

Puzzling Pinks, textile art by Suzann Thompson

If You Have Been Scammed

Please report scams to authorities. You can find out how to report scams by searching “reporting scams” online.

If the scammer used the United States Postal Service, report the incident at their website. The Federal Trade Commission also accepts reports of scamming. Though they don’t investigate individual cases, these groups collect information, which may help them pinpoint a scammer. Your information can help.

What is Your Story?

Artists, do you have advice about how to avoid scam art purchases online? Do you have a scam story? Would you please share? Information helps us all.

Comments { 0 }

Crochet Flowers on Jacket Lapels

Crochet flowers from Crochet Bouquet on jacket lapels

My linen jacket needed something. It needed to be more interesting, beautiful, cool. What was a crochet flower lady to do? Break out the No. 10 crochet cotton, choose a flower from Crochet Bouquet, (see sidebar) and embellish the lapels!

If you read the last post, you may remember that one of the reasons we have Crochet Bouquet at all, is because I was sad that the crocheted flowers on commercial clothing were all so similar. Most of the crocheted flower applique patterns I found were all about round flowers.

Okay, yeah, most flowers are circular. But not all flowers! AND you don’t always see a flower straight-on. That’s why some of the flowers in Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden are not round, or they are observed from a different perspective.

Oval Center Rose is one of those. It has been one of my favorites all these years. I chose it for my jacket lapels. Rose Leaf, also from Crochet Bouquet, seemed right for the greenery. For size contrast, I included the Small Flower from Crochet Garden.

Crochet flowers from Crochet Bouquet on jacket lapels

I chose to crochet pink flowers, but which pink? I went to my color consultant, also known as my younger daughter. “Which colors, Ella?” I asked. “The cool pink and the minty green, or the warmer pink and the yellower green?”

“Why not use them all together, Mom?” she said.

So I did. After crocheting and steaming them flat, I sewed around the edges of the leaves and flowers, then I stitched around the oval center of the Oval Center Rose. Mother-of-pearl buttons added just the right vintage look to the grouping.

I finished it in the morning, and wore it in the afternoon to the opening of Celebrate Doilies at the Dora Lee Langdon Center in Granbury, Texas. While in Granbury, I visited a resale shop called Bella, where I bought another linen jacket. That means more crocheted flower embellishment in the future!

Comments { 0 }

Only Three Days Left to See Celebrate Doilies

doily textile art by Suzann Thompson

Don’t wait too long! You have only three more days to see the Celebrate Doilies exhibit at the Dora Lee Langdon Center in Granbury, Texas. The exhibit’s last day in Granbury is Wednesday, September 27, 2017.

Art quilts, stories, and poetry fill the first floor of the historic Gordon Home, beginning with Constant Comets and Sweet Home, which greet you as you walk into the front door.

The two front rooms have fireplaces and bay windows, and I really like how gallery manager Joel Back displayed some of the posters on the mantels.

doily heritage poster by Suzann Thompson

In one bay window, we decorated the grand piano with Sandi Horton’s family heirloom crochet and poetry.
Sandi Horton's family heirloom crochet and poetry

In the other bay window, you’ll find posters about doilies of the past and modern doilies from Coats & Clark. They loaned designer doilies for us to display as well. The modern doilies are by designers Susan Lowman, Kathryn A. White, and Lisa Gentry.

Doilies Past and Present by Coats & Clark

Come ready to read Sandi Horton’s poetry and about crocheters of the past. Once you’ve been through the exhibit, it’s a short walk to Granbury’s historic town square, where you’ll find great food, coffee, and shopping.

doily textile art by Suzann Thompson

Comments { 0 }

SAQA Quilt Show Opens in Abilene

Antelope Horns, textile art by Suzann Thompson

Today’s Quilts: Art in Stitch, a juried show of works by Texas members of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) opens today at The Center for Contemporary Art in Abilene, Texas.

I’m pretty excited about the show, because two of my quilts are in it. Gaudi Gaillardia (below) and Antelope Horns (detail at right) are both fairly recent pieces, and importantly, they do not include any doilies. All my doily quilts are in the Celebrate Doilies show. I’m glad I had something to enter.

We live about halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene. It’s a two-hour drive to either one, but we seem to head east to Fort Worth more often than not. This show is a good excuse to go west, young woman!

Gaudi Gaillardia, textile art by Suzann Thompson

My daughter and a friend are coming along. We’re going to shop at JoAnn Fabrics and a couple of quilt shops. There’s a book festival in town, which we may look in on, before we meet other quilters for supper. Hey, you’ve got to take advantage of being in the big city.

The show runs through November 10, 2017, at the Center, which is at 220 Cypress Street in Abilene. An opening reception is planned for Saturday, September 23, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

After that, Today’s Quilts: Art in Stitch moves to the Texas Tech University Museum in Lubbock, to be displayed through February 2018.

Comments { 0 }

Welcome to My Blog!

Hello, I’m Suzann Thompson. Thanks for being here.

Please enjoy reading about my creative projects. I write about process, inspiration, and interesting stuff about the artistic, writing life.

If you have comments or questions, I hope you will get in touch. My email address is knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com, or you are welcome to leave a comment here.

Suzann Thompson

Warm regards,

Comments { 0 }

Celebrate Doilies Opening Reception Today

Doily yarn bombs at Celebrate Doilies by Suzann Thompson

We’re celebrating Celebrate Doilies today, July 22, with an opening reception from noon to 2 p.m. at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, 204 River North Boulevard, in Stephenville, Texas.

Just look for the big doilies on the front of the building. The one on the left is made from macramé cord from my mom’s stash. Thank you, Mom!

Suzann Thompson with baling twine doily

The doily on the right is from my dad’s stash of baling twine. Thank you, Dad!

A friend saw this photo of me with the baling twine doily and wrote, “You look so tiny.” That was sweet, and it gives you an idea of the relative size of this doily.

Once inside the gallery, turn to the right to find the Doily Panel, made by participants in a workshop at my studio on July 8–Anna, Ella, Janetta, Royce, and me.

Doily covered panel at Celebrate Doilies by Suzann Thompson

And there’s more—doily heritage, doily art quilts, and doily poetry. Come and see for yourself!

Comments { 0 }

A Celebrate Doilies Interview at March On! Texas

I met writer and historian Kelly McMichael at a town hall meeting of our U.S. Representative last spring. It was a nice surprise to find out that Kelly is a textile artist, too!

Kelly offers a different spin on the Celebrate Doilies exhibition in this post at the March On! Texas blog.

press for Celebrate Doilies

Comments { 0 }

Doily Yarn Bombs for Art Exhibit

The Celebrate Doilies will open in two short days! Yay!

But let’s dwell for a moment on the past.

Baling twine doily for Celebrate Doilies exhibit

My parents have raised cattle for a long time, and cows need hay during the winter. Mom and Dad buy big, round hay bales, which used to be tied up with yards of blue and white synthetic string called baling twine.

My dad can hardly stand to throw away anything that might be useful someday, and so he has a tub full of baling twine. “Suzie,” he has often said, “you could knit something out of that baling twine.”

Yes, I could knit something with baling twine, but as we say in my little family, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

All that changed when I was looking for a good fiber to make a doily to yarn bomb the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council gallery during the Celebrate Doilies exhibit. I tried crocheting the baling twine. It was kind of stiff and springy, but it could definitely be crocheted.

In the photo above, I’m on round 13 of the baling twine doily.

Doily yarn bomb for Celebrate Doilies exhibit

My mom offered a softer option: macramé cord that had been among her craft supplies for about 25 years.

The five hanks of cord totaled about 270 yards, so the crocheting went relatively quickly. The vintage pattern accommodated the varying weights of the cord perfectly. It was pattern number 7444 for a luncheon set. You can find the pattern by searching the internet with the terms “luncheon set 7444.”

In this photo, my assistant is stretching the doily on a length of PEX pipe, with the help of the dogs. The doily measured about 40 inches across when stretched.

Comments { 0 }