Friday, January 29, 2010

Heart Quilt

I received a package in the mail the other day. It was a gift from a dear friend: this lovely heart quilt.

I know how long it took to make such a gift. I am truly touched by her thoughtfulness and the love and care she took in making this piece of fabric art.

This reminds me anew of why I love the art of quilting and how it binds lives together.

Thanks, dear friend!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Historian Howard Zinn

Historian Howard Zinn died yesterday, January 27, 2010. Whether you agreed with him or not, Howard Zinn's writings were sure to spark debate. He challenged people to ask questions--and not accept traditional (school book) history at face value. There are many sides to every story...not just the ones spoon fed to the masses by popular media. His most recent work "The People Speak" premiered on the history channel in December 2009.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sanding Wheels

Another stitched art piece the "In My Neighborhood" series I started at the beginning of the month.

This time, these sanding wheels caught my eye.

I love circles. They show up a lot in my artwork.

Sanding Wheels
Stitched Art by JL Boynton
2.5 inches by 3.5 inches
6.4 centimeters by 8.9 centimeters
Copyright ©2010 Sojourn Quilts


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On a Mission

You might remember last week, I dug out my five year old business plan and wrote about it at this link: So What's the Plan?.

This week, I want to talk about the mission statement. Even though the mission statement is placed close to the beginning of a business plan, I think it is nearly impossible to write the mission statement before researching other areas of the business plan: finances, marketing, selling venues, and the like. The mission statement should be the glue that holds the whole plan together.

My mission statement from five years ago was to design and manufacture heirloom-quality fabric art Story Quilts to commemorate important life events: weddings, civil unions, births, graduations, deaths, anniversaries and other special occasions. I planned to use traditional and contemporary quilting techniques, vibrant color schemes and quality materials to create personalized, one-of-a-kind story quilts or pillows. I wanted to invite customers to participate in the selection of colors, symbols and overall design. A "sojourn" is a "resting place along life's journey," so I wanted to provide my customers with a change to reflect upon and honor their own remarkable life experiences.

In theory, the idea was--and still is--a good one. In practice, for me, anyway, it did not work out. I found marketing and pricing story quilts very difficult. To make a living at story quilts (the way I envisioned them), I needed to be willing to produce a lot at a moderate price or produce a select few at a premium price. After trying a few--and really undervaluing my time and talent--I decided I would rather make these for friends and family (free, as a gift from the heart) than sell them below what I thought they were worth.

With this realization, I started actively searching for something quilt-related I liked to make--that still seemed like "me" (personally, as a business owner, and artistically)--and fit better with the selling venues I was pursuing at the time.

Since my"market research"...with products and selling venues will lead me to my current mission statement, I am going to hold off talking about that until I write about the rest of the business plan.

More about selling venues next time.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Shrub with Red and Purple Hearts

Another stitched art piece with the "Candy Tree" idea in mind. This one is a fabric collage made from repurposed fabrics and cotton thread sewn and adhered to 140lb watercolor paper. Ready for matting and framing.

Shrub with Red and Purple Hearts
Stitched Art by JL Boynton
5.75 inches by 7.5 inches
14.6 centimeters by 19.0 centimeters
Copyright ©2010 Sojourn Quilts


Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Impact Man

Watched this movie No Impact Man. Definitely food for thought...and change...


Friday, January 22, 2010

Upcoming Workshops

Developing Collateral Sales Materials for Trade Shows
Presented by John Entwhistle and Paula Mahony
January 29, 2010
University of Southern Maine, Wishcamper Center, Room 133
Portland, Maine
Fee: $20

Creating Trade Show Booths That Sell
Presented by Bruce Baker
January 30, 2010
University of Southern Maine, Wishcamper Center, Room 133
Portland, Maine
9am to Noon

Marketing and Selling Strategies for Success
Presented by Bruce Baker
University of Southern Maine, Wishcamper Center, Room 133
Portland, Maine
January 30, 2010
1:15pm to 4:15pm

Fee: $50
For registration call 1-800-679-SBDC
Or Register online

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shrub with Red Berries Stitched Art

I was walking on a bitter cold day and just grabbed this picture. I was not sure it would even come out.

Something about the composition and light caught my fancy. Here is one version in fabric.

Shrub with Red Berries
Stitched Art by JL Boynton
5.75 inches by 7.75 inches
14.6 centimeters by 19.7 centimeters
Copyright ©2010 Sojourn Quilts


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Linoleum Cut Stamp

A friend showed me how to cut a linoleum stamp.

The process reminded me both of chip carving and of making Pysanky (Ukrainian style decorated eggs).

Here is what the stamp looked like when I finished. I forgot to take a picture of it before we inked it.

There is room for improvements, but here are a couple samples of the print. One on fabric, the other on paper.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So, What's the Plan?

A few months into 2009, I was in the Etsy chat room goofing other artisans...when, unsolicited and out of the blue, someone said to me, "You are going to make it in 2010." The text in the chat room often flies by at a furious rate, so I do not even know who made the comment. It stuck with me, though and, now that it is 2010, I am interested to see what the year brings.

Notice I did not say I am waiting to see what the year brings. I would rather take move my business and me forward than wait for something to happen.

I came across my old business plan the other day. I wrote it in 2005 when I took the New Venture's Class through Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community. And, while I enjoyed the exercise, I can say, now, a lot of the concepts went over my head. I am the kind of person who needs to experience something with ample time to process the new information. The New Ventures class packs a lot of information into its 10 week course. (Well worth the experience--and free to the participants, too!). It is a great way to test the waters--to really ask the tough questions to judge whether or not your business idea is a viable one.

I am not knocking my old business plan. It was good for the time I wrote it. The plan gave me an idea of what I knew about business so far (all my formal training was in education) and what I still needed to find out. And, in some ways, I have been addressing the plan since then: lots of workshops, lots of trial and error, lots of experimentation with products, pricing, marketing, selling venues, and the rest.

Now, entering 2010, I feel like my experimental stage with business is more-or-less over. I know quite a bit about what I like and do not like as an artisan, business owner, and person. It is time to follow a more deliberate path forward as I define my business further.

So, I am dusting off the old business plan and applying to it some of the experience and knowledge I have accumulated in the five years since it was written. I plan to share some of my insights with you here.

I am determined to "make it" in 2010 (whatever that turns out to mean) and, step one, is to find out what I know and what I do not know about my business today.

Stay tuned! I will let you know how things are going!


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Steve Winwood "Can't Find My Way Home" Contest

Cool version of this song performed by Jim Boynton and submitted to the Steve Winwood "Can't Find My Way Home" Contest.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Candy Tree

This tree decorated with larger than life sized candy tickled my fancy.

I had some basswood kicking around, so I wood burned this version of the Candy Tree, then added some color with pencils.

Candy Tree
Small Art by JL Boynton
Basswood and colored pencil
2.5 inches by 3.5 inches
6.4 centimeters by 8.9 centimeters
Copyright ©2010 Sojourn Quilts


Friday, January 15, 2010

Upcoming Women, Work and Community Workshops

If you are in the Bangor, Maine area and thinking of starting a business, I recommend these two workshops through Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community.

Introduction to Self-Employment

Date: February 2, 2010
Center: Bangor
Category: Business Assistance
Location: University College of Bangor, Bangor Hall, 1 University Drive, Bangor
Days of the week: Tuesday

Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
This introductory workshop will walk you through the pros and cons of owning your own business, the major elements of a business plan, the many resources available, and will help you decide whether self-employment is the right choice for you!

To register, contact Jane Searles: 262-7843 or email:

Basics of Business

Date: February 9, 16, 23
Center: Bangor
Category: Business Assistance
Location: University College of Bangor, Bangor Hall, 1 University Drive, Bangor
Days of the week: Tuesday
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

If you are thinking of starting a business, this 3 session training will answer questions, discuss pros and cons of being an entrepreneur, and help you take the first steps. The class covers the basics of a business plan, marketing, cash planning and is suitable for those thinking about or in the early start-up phase of a new business.

Pre-registration is required and attendance at all sessions is highly encouraged. There is no fee for attending.

The Basics curriculum was developed in partnership with the Women's Business Center at CEI.

To register, please call Jane Searles: 262-7843 or email:

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Information About Haiti and Ways to Help

Teaching My Left Foot To Sew

It is the strangest thing! I sew a lot and, like many people who sit for long periods, have developed a kink in my back: a twist in the muscles to be exact. My talented and kind physical therapist taught me better ways to sit and some very effective exercises to strengthen my core. (They work when I do them!).

So, I thought, as a way to give my kinked up back a break, I would teach myself to sew left-footed. Easy? Yes? No!

I positioned myself in front of the sewing machine, got the fabric and thread ready and stepped on the pedal with my non-dominant foot. It was not shy. In fact, Lefty stepped so hard on the pedal, the fabric went flying—needle pumping, feed dogs racing—and Righty, reflexively tried to get the pedal to slow down, pace itself and stop (to no avail).

I found myself having to say the words “Left foot, stop” in my head and then wait a few seconds for the signal to make itself down, through all the electrical wiring in my body, to my foot. Something was definitely lost in translation. And, so it went until my left foot built an experiential, electrical and physical memory of what it was like to sew. "Left foot, step on the pedal." "Left foot, press slowly--slowly--downward." "Left foot lift up slightly" "Left foot prepare to stop."

Teaching my left foot to sew is and was a great reminder at the awesome complexity of seemingly simple tasks. How amazing our bodies can learn to do what they do!

Thanks for the lesson, Lefty!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake In Haiti

Today, we in the United States woke to news of a devastating earthquake in Haiti. As currently being reported, the quake was a magnitude of 7.0 and death tolls are expected to be high. Here is the AP Report, updated 1 minute ago as I write this: Thousands Feared Dead in Haiti Quake; Many Trapped. What an utterly helpless feeling. My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Lure

The first in a series of fabric art pieces I am doing based on my Maine "neighborhood" (basically anywhere in Maine). These fishing lures were hanging in a friend's barn.

I will probably do a few more versions of these lures before I am done, but wanted to put this up for your feedback and insights.

Original Stitched Art by JL Boynton
Made from repurposed fabrics, thread and watercolor paper
3.5 inches by 2.5 inches
8.9 centimeters by 6.4 centimeters
Copyright ©2010 Sojourn Quilts


Monday, January 11, 2010

New Directions

It is that time of year--an introspective kind of season--when the cold forces a Mainer like me inside most of the time and, in lieu of twiddling my thumbs all day, I start sorting through my junk (physical and emotional). It is both an exhilarating and exhausting process. I try keeping what is good and chucking the rest. And, depending on how much energy I end up having for the process, I look forward to the rest of the year with a deeper understanding of where I have been and what I want to accomplish.

In my introspective moods, I wonder about this blog. Frankly, it seems to me to be suffering an identity crisis. I started the blog to telling other people's stories, focusing on how they use creativity to understand and rise above life's big and small challenges. I loved working with other artisans and I do not want to close the blog and lose all those wonderful stories. It seems, though, the interviews have run their course. A temporary lull? Maybe. Maybe not.

In any event, I decided to change directions a bit. I am still interested in creativity and how it informs our decisions and understanding of the world. I am, however, taking a step closer to home this year. I am making it more about my experiences of the a fabric artist, business owner, resident of Maine, woman, partner, friend. I still may do an interview now and again and reserve the right to change gears if this path does not pan out, but for now...I am heading off in a new direction...

I hope you will come along!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mermaid Tails

My four year old friend needed some mermaid tails for her Barbie dolls. This is my first foray into Barbie clothing. Some of the costumes are made from one of my grandmother's shirts. My Gram was 101 when she died in August. I think she would like the idea of this kind of recycling.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Scallops in Orange Sauce and Dried Herbs

Happy 2010!

On New Year's Eve, I tried this Scallops in Orange Sauce and Dried Herbs recipe from The Italian Dish. Yummy!

Here's how mine turned out in photos:

Season the Scallops

Saute the Scallops

Brown the Scallops

Supreme the Oranges

Deglaze the Pan

Make the Green Salad

Combine the Scallops and Herbs with the Orange Sauce

Plate the Scallops and Salad