The Lunatic Fringe

Sometimes life is your art. Sometimes art is your life. But always we are, by our human nature artists. The structure we give our lives is as vital a life form as the structure we give the many ways we create.
The Lunatic Fringe is where we recognize and celebrate the wonderful art explored just in our humanity. We believe in all art. We believe it to all be "fringy" from the odd corners of our souls and our worlds.
We welcome guest blogs from all kinds of artists from fiber artists, quilters, formal arts, odd doodlers and sculpters, and those artists who sculpt in the way their lives are built. It's part of our human nature. Are you one of the Lunatic Fringe?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting Together

Normally December would be a time of getting things into place. Getting them together. Tax receipts. Almost finished quilts. Articles that have to go out. The teaching is done for the year, and all those tasks impossible in the travel have to be done.
This December, add to that I'm getting ready for Thread Magic Garden, my new book from C&T publishing to arrive in January. There's a flurry of newsletters, articles and new work that has to be in place.

 In the middle of that muddle, I'm trying very hard to realize that the best task is simplification. So with that in mind, I'm putting all my blogs into one place. I know that some people just want information, some people want stories, some people want a place to check for schedules, and some people just want eye candy. You'll still find it all here at the Art Outside the Box at blog. I've put in a cloud label so you can find what you need easier. And I'm very curious as to what you think. I'm hoping you'll let me know. All the blogs have been fed into this one. I'll still show you wonderful Lunatic Fringe people, color studies, funny stories, fabulous techniques and amazing embroidery. But, we're getting together. Right now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

April H. Center: A Brilliant Painter with Words

Holding up the World by Ellen Anne Eddy
April Center is a word painter in the Indiana Dunes area. Her images flow out of the page and grab you tightly. Sometimes they are warm and caressing. Sometimes they reach out in ways that are ferocious. But whatever they do, they always touch you somewhere deeply.

What Matters Now
Copyright 2011
By April Center

The trees know. The seasons require attention of different matters.
In spring they stretch their arms reaching for the light and the warmth,
With an awakening that follows throughout the millennium.
The sap slowly flows it’s lifeblood through their veins long before tiny sprouts appear
Like tiny fingers, whispering, reaching to grasp the hope and pursuit of sunlight,
Finding succor for the summer
Ever beckoning, wooing, breathing, soothing.
No need for wondering what matters now in the halcyon days of spring.

The trees know what matters in the glorious summer.
The trees are in full prayer and reverie – their chorus is heard easily
Above the canopy bestowing silent solace
Their arms with a million fans swaying, sometimes gently laughing, softly sighing
Sometimes boldly shouting, clapping and cheering
To the heartbeat of the wind – dancing,
Ever dancing with a grace beyond compare
The trees know what matters now in the ripe days of summer.

The trees know what matters in the fullness of time
In the slow fall from grace
No longer hindered, the trees and their kin shrug off their summer shroud
To be found scattered and strewn on the ground preparing a bed.
They sigh with a satisfied sleepiness after the dance.
A kaleidoscope of color shivers from their frames,
The painted beauty now leaves no trace,
What is left is the enduring body and face.
In the twilight of autumn the trees know what matters in the universe.

The trees know what matter most at this time. No longer concealed
Is their courage standing in place, always there but rarely seen while encased
In their garments of lace.
Not languishing, not laggardly, they brace
For the sharp, serrated winds that gust with the squalls of winter,
Withering all but the trees, for the trees know what matters in a world of much waste.
You'll find more writing of April's at Prudy's View.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pat Winter: It's Always the Quiet Ones

Crazy for CQ.
The best Mermaids ever!

Tucked in a cute little farmhouse outside Chesterton Indiana lives a quiet wild lady named Pat Winter. Pat has to be one of the most inventive crazy quilters ever. And when I'm lucky she dyes fabric with me. This incredible mermaid book is one of her masterpieces. Here's what she has to say for herself.

 "Once upon a time there was a girl who gathered bits and bobs and her friends made fun of her "junk" collecting......  Up until a few years ago I never considered what I did art. I had always wanted to paint and draw however I did not inherit that skill from my mother. I did inherit the desire to collect and this I did very well. From a very young age I began gathering every little discarded trinket, pretty fabric scrap and bauble I found unusual or interesting and slipped them into a chest in my closet for safe keeping. As a teen only my closest friends saw my strange collection of bits and bobs. Unfortunately those items never made it with me through life but my desire and need to gather remains with me still today.
 This comes in handy for a crazy quilter. Vintage laces, doilies, buttons, broken jewelry and beads have made it into my current collection  as well as velvet remnants from Holiday dresses, lace trims from wedding gowns, silk, satin and moire from cast off prom dresses and an ongoing stash of "fancy fabrics" gathered from my shopping ventures all find a home in my studio. I enjoy making unusual and useful items using the crazy quilt method, not traditional wall hangings or bed coverings.
I can't explain what drives me to create, I blame it on my muse. All I know is that whatever it is that makes me spend hours stitching and embellishing almost every day of my life is too strong to deny and brings me much pleasure. Imagine finding yourself locked in a chocolate shop and you were a chocoholic. That is how I feel when I walk into my studio and begin gathering items for a project. Lunatic? Yes, I believe so."

You'll find Pat's amazing work at Winter Gatherings, where you can also purchase her new magazine, Crazy Quilt Gatherings, full of projects, tips, teaching and of course, crazy beautiful work.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Laura Krasinski: Out on a Limb

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Laura's another quilter who shared images with me for the Beautiful Beast Slide Show. She wrote me this story about stretching, trying and changing that is the heart of the Lunatic Fringe.
This is "the story of making a quilt of my daughter.  It's called He Loves Me He Loves Me Not.  
I was asked by Wendy Butler Berns if I would like to participate in her exhibit for Houston.  It is called Out on a Limb. 
I jumped at the chance since I have never had a quilt in a big show before.  So she continues to tell me about the challenge and then said it had to be at least 50".... My jaw immediately dropped.  I don't think I spoke a word for a minute or so.. .. I have never made a quilt that large.  So I thought about it and decided I needed to make this.  I took a photo of my daughter leaning against a tree.  I took the photo and with the help of Wendy's technique I turned it into a 52"x64" quilt.  I added a wall so I could put her cat Mr. Snuggles sitting on it. ... During the time I was making this quilt I had some major family issues.  I really didn't think I would get it done.  But, with the help and support of family and friends I did get it done, and in time.   This was one of the best experiences of my life.    Since I have done this quilt I feel like I need to do something better and maybe bigger. ...But, I am bound and determine to continue to make beautiful quilts now that I have found my true love.  "

Her motto is "Everything will be o.k. in the end... if it's not o.k. it is not the end."

Fringe people aren't reasonable.Nor is their art.  They follow their hearts and do what their heart demands. It's loveliest when you find their people understand and hold them up in that process.

You'll find Laura Krasinski's work at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wild annie! Wade

Happy for No Reason

annie! Wade is a wildly creative lady who I first learned about when she lived in Florida.  Her work reflects the colors and chaos of the tropics.

Happy for No reason is a fabric book of  "...of scraps and bits and pieces I’ve tried different techniques on…and just made me happy…for no reason! Named after a book I read earlier this year by Marci Shimoff.

Gator Geezer
Gator Geezer started as a photo her husband took  with the kids from an air boat.  She says it was"…for my hubby of 33 years this weekend…was made of scraps that most people throw away. My son-in-law took some alligator pix when he was in the Everglades on a with my daughter and grandbaby and I knew I had to try to translate it with fabric. The original picture…which you can see on my blog…is quite different, and I still want to work on the eye…but otherwise, I think I’m done. LOVE using this technique to make quilts."

 annie! spells her name just like that, and it's true. She's so unexpected and fun.

I love the idea of a book that's happy just for happiness. That may well be the best reality we make for ourselves. I love when someone claims it in their art.

 annie! has also recreated her life. She has a grand daughter in Barranquilla Columbia and lives there with her husband so she can be with her. Catch her wild adventures in art and in life at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Celebrate the Fringe!

Celebrate the Fringe!
We're doing a follower give-away to celebrate all our wonderful fringy folk! We'll pick one winner from the lunatic fringe followers on October 1,2011.

The winner will get kit including 1/2 yard of Ellen Anne Eddy's amazing hand-dyed fabric and hand-dyed pearl cotton to go with it. Sign up as a Lunatic Fringe Page Follower, on this page for your entry. Want to improve your odds ? Sign up as follower and do a guest post for the blog to have your name in the hat twice. Contestants must be in the United States.
Come join the fringe and get some fabulous fringy hand-dye to play with. Email Ellen to talk about putting up a guest blog.(It's not hard. It takes a couple pictures and a paragraph.We'll help.) Show us your Fringe!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Romance from the Edge of the Fringe

Want A Man

I want a man who'll wash the dishes
I want a man who'll make the bed
I want a man who's not suspicious
I want a man who's halfway dead
I want a man who'll do the laundry
Vacuum the carpets, sweep the floor
I want a man who knows his boundaries
No one could ask for more.
Uncle Bonsai

For two years I've had  lizards on my wall. No. I don't live in Florida. Or any where else where that kind of ambiance is every day. I've had two Komodo Dragon lizards on my design wall for over two years. I drew them dancing and the butterflies to go around them and left them there on the design wall, either like desert or like an unripe melon, waiting for later.

I wish I could see images fully when I draw them. For some reason I can't. I need to sit with them. I can walk into someone else's drawing and  often tell them, this is off, this is out of proportion. For some reason, it's like I'm in a semi-dark room where I just can't quite see what's happening. So when I'm unsure, I'll sit a drawing where I can see it for a long time, to see what I might have missed.

In this case, that was wise. I could see the neck was wrong on one. The back needed to be wider on the other. I adjusted the drawings and then still waited.What for?

They're really scary. Not because they're Komodo dragons. I've met one actually, and I loved her. She was a modern day dinosaur. Now mind you, I'm glad she'd eaten first before I visited.

They represent all the fear I have over the dance between men and women. Romance scares me green.

It's not that it's not of interest. Although I'll admit that as I get older the guys get less appealing. And though I have a bevy of strong supportive women friends, I can't help but feel that I've missed something. I was an odd and distressed young woman who went through a whirl of inappropriate men, landed in therapy, and came out 15 years later with a better adjusted attitude and no one in sight. By then, art was my survival. It was past my life. I'd pulled all of my issues into different quilts, and dragged them one by one into my  therapist's office. And I had a habit of living every extra moment of my life at my machine.

It's astonishing but true that men don't come into your  studio by accident or design to meet you. I've also found that every time I've tried to engineer that, it doesn't work either. Sooner or later, I'm back in my studio. At  58, I'm resigned. Cats and dogs are truly lovely roommates. Besides, I'd need someone who could do light housecleaning, gardening, household repair and  not watch sports. I don't believe that paragon exists anywhere.

Over the years I've watched my married friends, sometimes in jelousy, sometimes with joy  for their joys, sometime in anguish at what they've had to face. I've heard their stories, cried with them, laughed with them, helped fight their battles, cheered at their victories, taken in their children as my own, given them back in a heart beat when it was time. I can't say it was easy. It was infinitely better than living in a hell of one. It grounded me to the world, which I do need some help on.

So it was with some shock as I watched a friend acknowledge that her gentle, kindly marriage, that I've truly envied, includes special moments where her husband radiates black rage and terrorizes her with it. Her oldest son tried practicing grandchild blackmail. You can imagine. He learned it somewhere. 

I find myself needing to take out my tattered images of love and romance and say, "Is this what you had in mind?"

And I looked up and saw my dancing, romancing Komodo Dragons drawn waiting on my wall. Terrified.

Now the things I draw sometimes happen. I do not know why. It isn't something that's always true. But I watch for it. So when I draw something that scares me, I have a choice. I can dig my head in the sand and refuse the image, refuse to be part of it or work with it. Mind you, it doesn't go away. But denial is not just a river in Egypt. 

Or I can work the image and see if somehow the magic happens. Sometimes, if you work through the fear and the pain, it flips over. Something falls into a different place, and the object of fear and pain becomes something lovely, if scary. Or funny. It shifts something in my head and it shifts something within the piece.It becomes a glorified wound, a resurrection.

I started this year, realizing that I had hid from these large lizards on my wall. I told myself lizards don't win awards. They don't get in shows. Why would you do a large quilt that will take months and months, that no one will want to see? 

You don't pin a drawing to a wall for 2 years and ignore it because it's not important. The denial is a very wide river, dark and cold.  I plunged in, picked out thread and fabric, and started to stitch.

Last night as I pulled them from the machine, I could tell the magic is on it's way. They're ripply rivers of orange and blue muscle with scales. They're gorgeous.Though the dance is risky, dangerous, a bit too close, it's lovely.

Will my friend find a way to restructure her world? I've watched her do it time after time. She has the courage of mountains and stone.

I've taken my lizards and danced with them. That's my part.

I wrote this about a year ago.
As a complete surprise, these babes have gone to Houston. I don't have a good track record there, but I do believe that it's an honor to be shown.  And it's my job to shock/scare/titillate/ and generally push people past some boundaries. I'd say my work is done.

You'll find the wonderful music of Uncle Bonzai at the Uncle Bonzai Home Page. They're irreverent, fun and wonderfully fringy.
You'll find Soulmates, my lizard quilt at in the humor section at Houston. Stop by and hum them a tune. I think they'll dance for you too.