Tea First

Today I returned to Dublin to explore. With so much to see, I popped over to have tea while I considered where to begin.

Cake and tea for lunch at The Queen of Tarts.

Cake and tea for lunch at The Queen of Tarts.

Clare Island, County Mayo, Ireland

Today I went to Clare Island to find out more about Grace O’Malley. Her castle is clearly visible upon the approach to the island.




I had to make a stop at Clare Island Abbey, the ancestral burial grounds of the O’Malley clan with an amazing painted ceiling from the 14th century. Do you suppose Grace’s head could be buried here? It’s a beautiful place, with lots and lots of sheep. I felt like I was in an Irish Spring commercial!

Is Grace really buried here?

Is Grace really buried here?

Interior Abbey

Interior Abbey

Amazing ceiling paintings!

Ceiling of Clare Island Abbey

Ceiling of Clare Island Abbey

Inside Clare Island Abbey

O’Malley Family Crest, Clare Island Abbey

A small island with a very rich history worth exploring again and again.

Finding Grace O’Malley


After twenty-three hours and 4,400 miles, I have arrived in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland to investigate the pirate queen Grace O’Malley. Nearly lost to history because she was a woman this formidable figure deserves a bit of study. I am glad to have the opportunity to learn about this amazing historical figure who once snubbed Queen Elizabeth by refusing to bow to her.

Grace O'Malley Statue, Westport House, County Mayo, Ireland

Grace O’Malley Statue, Westport House, County Mayo, Ireland

Westport House is built on the site once occupied by one of Grace O'Malley's seven castles. Underneath the present house, built by her great granddaughter's husband, are the dungeons once used by Grace herself.

Westport House, currently being renovated, is built on the site once occupied by one of Grace O’Malley’s seven castles. Underneath the present house, built by her great granddaughter’s husband, are the dungeons once used by Grace herself.

Grace's great granddaughter, Maud.

Grace’s great-granddaughter, Maud.

A Truly Scilly Summer

I recently brought the book I am working on out and shared it with a writer friend of mine. My friend is also a writer and was able to look at my idea and evolving story with fresh ideas and eyeballs. You know I had not really thought about the value or necessity to share my manuscript with anyone before. It was not completely finished so no one needed to see it yet, or so I thought. This friend has been a terrific help and encouraging force in the evolution of this manuscript. I actually became excited about it again.
When I first began this book I was looking for an actual place with an interesting name. I was really interested in the 1940’s, possible orphan character, WWII, Europe. Imagine my delight in discovering the Isles of Scilly; a chain of islands off the southwestern coast of Cornwall, England.

This friend of mine came right out and said,”You need to go do some research. The story will almost write itself once you walk in the shoes of where you characters would have walked.”

Isn’t it annoying when someone else thinks of a solution first? What a good friend!

This summer I am taking my friend’s advice. Starting in London and then traveling by train to Land’s End in Cornwall, England. Taking the ferry, called the Great White Stomach Pump, 28 miles to the Isles of Scilly where my story takes place. Once there I am staying in a castle commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I in 16th century. I look forward to updating my blog as I prepare for this journey and discover how the story continues to unfold.

Falling into Scilly

It’s been a busy year with lots of projects and changes taking place. More recently, as dust has settled a bit, I have just enough time to pick up some projects long left tucked away for when time allowed.

For some time I have been toying with the idea of a new website for a project I am working on. I am finally actively gathering and creating the elements to build it out. It is early, but I am pleased with the progress.


A Year’s Worth of Creative Attempts

I started this challenging art project last December. At the time I thought it was a great way for me to stretch my creativity and force myself into building a project from a picture I found on online. The original project I found used canvas as a base and paper for the patchwork, which clearly that would have been so much simpler than my brilliant plan! Using fabric would be so much more fun, or challenging, or difficult! So I dove into my fat quarter library (a seemingly simple task to most) and actually cut and fused about 100 or so circles of fabric to make the 2 sided patchwork pieces, as well as choose suitable buttons to add interest to some of the squares. Now, fat quarters and buttons are two of my favorite things in the world so to cut into a perfect fat quarter, whatever the reason, or separate a button from all the others in the big glass jars is quite an anxiety producing event. But it was a great winter project.

All’s well that end’s well and I think this time it turned out well. In future I know how to create other pieces to display the button and fat quarter collection currently filling my shelves and studio.




Wooden Type

Searching for inspiration the other day I found myself perusing some of my type trays in my studio.  This is some of my favorite wooden type in my collection. I acquired it some time ago, from someone who put it up on ebay unaware of it’s cool factor. I liked his version of where it was found; in a barn in the Midwest. It’s clearly old type, not all perfect and some letters have some damage to them, but that only makes them more interesting. When displayed they really are mini art pieces!


Copyrights and Trademarks

While organizing my websites digital closet I came across a really great blog posting by Mary Engelbriet on the subject of copyright and trademark issues. I have had numerous conversations with other artists on the subject of copyright and trademark rights. This 2 part article helps explain the importance of this subject without sounding angry or snarky.

Now I am a huge, I mean huge fan of Mary. I’ve met her twice and she has signed many of my prints and my copies of her books. Her work is so playful with a twist of nostalgia mixed in. Mary Engelbriet is also a remarkable business woman and has enjoyed great success, therefore she knows her stuff. I believe she may even have a little Mary Poppins in her as well!

Art and Web Capabilities

I was at a meetup event recently and someone asked about a particular feature they admired and wanted to achieve. After a little detective work it was a parallax website this individual was speaking of. It jogged my brain into rediscovering a beautiful site to show them that goes above and beyond what one would think possible from the web. It is a mix of technology and art that is done so well neither overshadows the other.

Barbara Olszańska-Żywalewska

Parallax is not perfect for a number of reason; one of the big reasons is the speed at which it doesn’t load. It can be tedious and for some people it is not worth the trouble or the extra few seconds it may take to load. I personally appreciate the care given to develop a complex site such as the one above.