Today marks the beginning of the arduous task of bringing people together regardless of beliefs, regardless of prejudices. The task now is to speak truth to power, recognize that government can be a force for good and also a tool for disaster. We live in a country of laws, checks and balances, and citizens who care.  I recognize that my truth may not be your truth. I will listen. And I will not be silent.

Here are my feelings: malaise, worry, trepidation, confusion. Is this what it feels like when black turns to white, lies become truth, thugs become leaders? It is a dark day. A day when all I can hope for is that bureaucracy forestalls disaster. Dark days beget dark thoughts. Looming edifices of oligarchs and predators march in to offices that purport to protect the meek, the under-served, and the threatened. I'm going to get this darkness out of my system soon but for now I wallow in it. I sink in disbelief. I am sad.

  Thugs , work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Thugs, work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Alternative hairstyles for the center figure: blockhead, firebrand, flipper.

Next in the series?

Liar, liar, a work-in-progress, Paula Kovarik

Let's spend some time together. Join me in July!

I am teaching a 5-day workshop July 16-21 at the Quilting by the Lake fiber program this July. The class is called
Follow the Thread: A New Approach to Free Motion Quilting. And I can't wait! What could be better than spending five days with like-minded explorers? Quilters, artists, curious travelers. What fun!

Our objectives?

We will loosen up and explore new territory with line and stitch. We'll learn to focus on the character of line and personal symbols through simple drawing and stitching exercises. We will accumulate a toolbox of techniques for seeing, interpreting and completing concept-driven work.

  • First we make a mess. Begin to see that line is active and reactive. Remember scribbling? We'll do some of that.
  • Embrace the wonky. Learn to make the most of whatever occurs by joining ideas to line motifs to see what develops ... and perfection is not the objective.
  • Think in thread. Translate what you see into pathways by stitching in continuous line to spur ideas. This is where we prove that 1+1 can really add up to more than 2.
  • Chart a new path. Recognize alternative solutions by using composition to navigate pathways. It really is about the journey. Trust me.
  • Walk the walk. We ask the questions: What did I see today? What inspired me today? What have I learned today? We'll focus on generating ideas through research and observation. You will build your stitching vocabulary and learn to trust the thread to tell your story.

So join us! Register today.

Decision Tree, detail, Paula Kovarik

Let's spend some time together.

Open to all skill levels, free-motion quilting experience a plus.


I have three bins of fabric that I replenish or deplete with each project. One with scraps of black, one with scraps of color and one with scraps of white.

More often than not I reach into the black bin to start a new project. It might be about the drama, black plays so nicely with white threads dancing. I reach into the scraps-of-color bin for levity and playfulness (and, i must admit, I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a black and white thinker). The white bin holds texture and clarity, like a fresh new sheet of drawing paper.

The bins are a perfect metaphor for the scraps of knowledge, memories and insights I seek. They're a little raggedy, very wrinkled and sometimes useless. But if you put them together in a whole they can sing, or cry, or mutter expletives. Lately, I have been muttering more than singing. It feels like the fabric of the world is being torn and our lives are threatened at every turn.  Finding light and hope is more difficult.

Signals, a work in progress, Paula Kovarik, 2016


It's a new year. Again. A perfect time to take stock, sort through the clutter and focus on new pathways. In my practice I strive to make the invisible visible, the silent audible and the internal move outside its boundaries. I listen to the clues that surround me and reach into the bins with a feeling that there are endless solutions. There have to be endless solutions, right?

Listen here for the pulse of the world: Radio Garden

And happy new year everyone. 

Pathways and choices

If you search for the phrase "You're probably not as busy as you say you are" you'll get a number of articles about the psychological weight of feeling overwhelmed and the nature of choice. Today's electronic environment is a rabbithole of interference and distraction. It also inspires.

From Maria Popova's Brain Pickings journal: The stories that we tell ourselves, whether they be false or true, are always real. We act out of those stories, reacting to their realness. William James knew this when he observed: “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

I choose to go down rabbitholes. I choose to allow mystery to guide me. I choose pathways that don't make sense in an effort to abolish the literal.

Stitch pathways mimic the complexity of confusion. Paula Kovarik, 2016

Adding spotlights to the cacophony sorts out simple scenes.

Stream-of-consciousness stitching reveals anxious wanderings. Pathways, Paula Kovarik, 2016

Morning sun gives me some ideas for extra detail bubbling up.

the fall

I love fall. The colors speak to me. They reverberate with spent energy and herald the coming darkness of winter. This one coming up feels darker than most.

Burying my head in the sand will not be an option in the coming years.

Though I have always maintained a non-partisan stance in this journal (I am an independent) I feel compelled to speak out now. The election brought sadness for me and many around me. I am worried for my immigrant friends, alarmed at white supremacist rhetoric, concerned about the relaxation of environmental standards and angry at the misogynist drooling. It's a gut punch. Each day brings another announcement of the leadership of thugs.

Thugs, Paula Kovarik

I know that all Trump voters are not bad people. Some of them are family members, some truly believe that drastic change (no matter what the cost) will fix our broken system, some focus on one issue when they vote. The task at hand is what to do next? Do we continue the vitriol or fix what is broken? Do we take sides or bridge the gap?

There are plenty of gaps to bridge. We all know that.

So what I look for in a leader is someone who is smart, open and determined to be fair to all. And as a citizen it will be my responsibility to be vigilant. I will support a free press, speak out at injustice and find ways to further the causes I consider important.  

I will not bury my head. Or lapse into cynicism.

rising, Paula Kovarik