Thursday, December 14, 2017

Advent Commission - Stretching/Growing Pains!

Ever have that feeling that it's time to move on from the old to something new and not know exactly what that is?  This year has been all about that feeling in the life of Judy Connor Jones. In March I began a process of taking a look at what I have done for 27 years with the business of Judy Connor Jones and pondering (more like searching) where I am going next. It's a daunting task to move from the familiar to the unknown and yet all the while knowing something new needs to happen. I've been working through Jane Dunnewold's on-line Creative Strength Training class which has given me the freedom to play, explore, and process the next step. It also has given me the encouragement to step out and create new work in new areas. One of those areas is Ecclesiastical Installations. I've dabbled in this off and on for around 10 years.

This Advent season I had the chance to create work for First Congregational Church in Madison, CT.  This was the first time I have ever been approached to do this type of work on a commission basis in a church where I am not a member or attend. This was HUGE! They were actually going to pay me! So early in the year when I was contacted and asked if I would create 2 panels with a contemporary looking star on them for Advent, I said "Yes. I can do that!" OK! Excited? YES! Did I know how I was going to achieve this? NO! But I was excited to begin the process of discovering how it was going to happen.

In July I took a trip to Madison to check out the sanctuary and where these panels were going to be hung. They were going to be installed in the front of the sanctuary and would be 4 feet wide by 15 feet long. Yikes! All of a sudden the enormity of the project hit me! How was I going to do this? Where was I going to do this?  How was I going to get the right prospective on the size of the star?

I wandered around the church and took lots of photos from all angles of the space where they would hang. I took photos from the front, sides, and back of the sanctuary to see how they might be viewed. Then I went home to figure out how this was going to happen!

The easy job was ordering supplies, fabric and paint. The hard part was finding a space to create the work. After some thought and measuring my studio space, I moved my looms and a few other equipment pieces to the side so I would have enough space to work in my studio. This proved to be more valuable than I thought. Naively I thought I would just prepare the fabric, lay it out on a table and paint the star! Presto done! Maybe two days to paint the stars, 2 days to prepare my studio, 2 days drying/curing time and another day to do finishes, hanging devices and instructions, along with other incidental work that needed to be done to complete the project. Boy, was I wrong!  It wasn't quite that easy.


I started making drawings from my photos, setting up the studio, and washing and ironing 30 feet of fabric on October 21. the project was completed on November15.  Granted I didn't work every waking hour but it took that long to work out all the steps I needed to go through to create the work. I was thinking and re-thinking each step. For instance, after the first panel was done it became a challenge to figure out how to create the second so it looked similar to the first. Since these were hand painted they couldn't possibly be exactly the same. I made that happen by using a carbon pencil, tracing the first star, then transferring the carbon markings to the second panel. It worked!!


The greatest challenge was creating the star proportionally to the 4' x 15' dimensions of the panel and proportionally to the sanctuary size. Keep in mind that the largest panel I have ever done in a church was 2.5 feet x 11 feet. This project was double that size. And there were two of them! Also keep in mind that I am only 5 feet 3.5 inches tall! With the work flat on a very long extended table and having to walk around the table to paint across 4 feet of fabric, I soon discovered that it was hard to see the full prospective of how things were looking and if everything was going straight. I needed to figure out a way to see the full prospective. So periodically I moved the panels to view them draped down my studio steps.  This was the largest space in my house that could give me a better look at where I needed to extend, add, and/or in some cases, straighten rays.

Once both panels were painted, the dowels were prepared for hanging the work. Installation directions were written and off to Madison they went. I held my breath and hoped that everything would look good when installed.

Last weekend, the second weekend in Advent, my husband and I traveled back to Madison to see the panels in their new home. My wish was that they would inspire and in some way bring new light to the congregation's experiences during the Advent season. From the response I received when worshiping there last weekend, I would say my wish was fulfilled.

I'd like to close this blog post with a quote from the minister of the First Congregational Church, The Reverend Todd Vetter. I love the idea that the Star is reaching down touch and meet each of us.

"The Star has become synonymous with the Advent and Christmas seasons. We know the story of the Wise Men following it from the East, in search of a king newly born and carrying the promise of God with him. The light of the Star symbolizes more as well. The rays on the banner serve as a sign and reminder this season that God's light reaches down to meet us where we are and as we are, and to dwell among as Immanuel, God-with-us, God-forgive-us, and God-in-us.

Despite all the turmoil in the world today, May this Star be your Light this Holiday Season.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

What's happening in the Studio?

So what have I been up to in the first half of 2017? For starters I took some time off to relax, be with family, and enjoy the sunshine in Florida. I've realized that the sun energizes me and so my time in Florida is alway a wonderful time to be inspired.

To help that process I enrolled in an on-line class called "Creative Strength Training" led by Jane Dunnewold and her daughter, Zenna. This course is jam packed full of ideas, processes, fun, and serious contemplation. I am enjoying it to the "nth" degree! Since I've been going through serious re-evaluation of where my work is going, this is exactly what I need. Questions like, do I want to continue doing shows, do I want to continue making production items to sell, what will give me satisfaction in the work I do, how will I continue creating with physical ailments increasing, and most of all am I having fun and enjoying what I do, have been an on-going conversation with myself for a couple of years.

 So as that process continues, I am discovering some things.

1. My work needs to change. I work at a slower pace and am excited about creating new work that challenges me.

2. Learning and playing with new techniques is energizing.

3. Production work is not satisfying any more. It was a good run but it is time to move on.

4. I need to connect with artists of all mediums to explore and discuss new possibilities. The CST class has a wonderful Facebook Group with which to share insights, discoveries, and new learnings.

As I explore and move through this process I'd like to share some new work I'm developing. I've been working with this technique for about a year and I am enjoying the fact that it is an off loom technique. That has given my body some time to heal from all the years of weaving on a loom to produce for sales. It also gives me a sense of excitement to see how each piece turns out.

detail of 4" scarves
I started working with the technique by making silk scarves, both infinity and loose hanging. I just recently worked on a narrow version. I am selling these but they are limited in production. Each one, since the dye patterns are not duplicated, is truly one of a kind. As I explore I try to create new ways of weaving them.

4'' scarves
5" scarves

My CST on-line course is definitely an influence as I work on who I am as an artist and what I am meant to do and be. I have new ideas running around my head. Hopefully the ideas will emerge into something new, exciting, and wonderful. It's a challenge but, oh, am I having fun! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 05, 2016

The End and The Beginning

Happy Labor Day to all in the US who celebrate this day in honor of our work force. Hopefully you are getting a break from your labor. For me, having been a Jr High teacher, Labor Day always signified the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. It was and still is a chance for new beginnings and fresh starts!

While I no longer teach, Labor Day is both an ending and a beginning for me. The days of summer with it's travel and fun give way to the more serious task of getting ready for fall shows. Oh drats!  I really have to work hard now to have inventory for my fall and holiday commitments to Galleries and Art Centers! So while you all are celebrating, I'm making lists, checking current inventory, and marking deadlines on my calendar. Deadlines are beginning to loom! (Pun intended)

So here's my ambitious schedule for the fall and holiday season:

Artistry 2016
November 3, 2016 - January 8, 2017
Guilford Art Center
Guilford, CT

Weavers' Guild of Boston Exhibit and Sale
November 3 - 6, 2016
Josiah Smith Barn
Weston, MA

Artists' Market
November 11 - December 3, 2016
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Lincoln, MA

Handmade Holiday 7
November 26 - December 23, 2016
Some Things Looming
Reading, PA
(work will also be in the boutique starting the end of September)

Along with these shows, I will continue to have work in the Elizabeth Stevens Gallery, Towles Court  in Sarasota Fl.

For those of you who are local, there is a possibility I may have a Studio Open House sometime in November. Stay tuned for info on that. If you want to make sure you know when the Pop Up Open House may happen, please sign up for my e-mail newsletter at I promise not to flood your inbox. I only send out a newsletter occasionally to let you know what is happening at Judy Connor Jones (no more than once a month and more likely only 3 or 4 times a year).

I leave you with a preview of my newest work.  Selected galleries will be carrying the newer work. All others will have a selection of my other work which is shown on my website,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Where in the World is Judy Connor Jones?

If you have been following my Facebook business page,, you know that sometimes I post a little game called "Where in the World" is Judy Connor Jones. I recently was on a 3 week trip to Scandinavia and challenged readers to figure out where I was. Here are the answers. See if you figured them out......................

August 2
Modern building across the street from Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark. The old columns by the gate to Tivoli are mimicked in the design of the new building. This city is rich with design inspiration.


August 3
Illum Exclusive Department Store, Copenhagen, Denmark. Well planned design happens here too!

August 4
Lunch at the cafe at the Design Museum Danmark, Copenhagen, Denmark. Even the food is presented with design in mind.   poached egg on avocado, lettuce and brown bread

August 6
Hanging lamps at the Hilton Strand Hotel in Helsinki, Finland. What a grand statement these made!

August 7
City walk around Helsinki, Finland. Birch trees are everywhere!

August 9
"Course of Time" Sculpture, Oulu City Hall, Oulu, Finland. These sculptures are about 18" high and represent every type of person who has lived in Oulu from King Charles IX to pastor, wife, merchant, farmer, craftsman, beggar, society lady, shopkeeper, female doctor, student, and many more to Martti, Child of the Future. There are 32 figures in all. 

August 10
Birches in the small parks in the city of Oulu, Finland. I LOVE the birches!


August 12
Train station to the airport in Helsinki, Finland. Textiles painted on the walls depict lace, satin, and  pattern designs.

August 13
Wall print of a Swedish Weaving Technique called Dukagang in the Sheraton Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden. I tried to find a shop where they might sell some textiles with this handwoven technique but was unsuccessful. Very little hand weaving to be found. Sad since this is part of Sweden's rich heritage. 

August 14
Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden. This was fascinating and a little dizzying! But oh so interesting!!! Dots everywhere! 

August 15
Back in my studio in Plymouth, MA after having a wonderful time traveling around Scandinavia. So much more I didn't show in my brief posts Around the World. I'll leave those for another blog post.

Hope you enjoyed playing "Where in the World" is Judy Connor Jones. Be on the look out.  You never know where she will turn up! Make sure you Like ðŸ‘ðŸ¼my Facebook business page, so you won't miss a minute of the next adventure.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Shawls Are More Than a Wrap - Part Two or What in My "Tool Box" Can I Use?

I have a habit of being interested in new techniques, taking a workshop, and after the workshop/class never having the time to play with what I've learned.  The cycle goes like this - excitement to use the new techniques, no time to play reinforcing the technique, months go by, fear sets in, memory fades, and there you have it. New technique, new supplies, sitting on the shelf or in the box never touched again. My "tool box" is full of these things! Any of you have this problem?

Well this time, I was thankful for an excuse to play with Color Hue dyes that I learned about at a weavers'  conference last summer, July 2014.

©Judy Connor Jones

It was a wonderful workshop and the dyes were so easy to use and the teacher was excellent. As it turned out, they were the perfect dyes for this project. You see they bond instantly to silk and because they do, they require no mordants (dyers nerdy talk) and very little washing of excess dye in the cloth. There is very little dye left that has not bonded to the cloth.  So why is this important?  Remember my dilemma, how to incorporate prayers in the shawl? One of the other items in my tool box is knowing how to ink jet print onto fabric. While the ink jet print is permanent, washing over and over again to remove dyes would cause the ink to fade. The Color Hue dyes would allow me to give color to the silk, which was white at the beginning, without the print fading. I would print prayers or statements of faith for each of the Abrahamic faiths onto silk, dye it, and cut it into ribbon using a Japanese technique for making long strips of ribbon, another tool box item!

©Judy Connor Jones

Issue resolved! BUTTTTTTT (UT OH, here goes another Judy brain storm!) - wouldn't it be cool if the prayers or statements were written in English, Hebrew, and Arabic! YES! 

Reality check - how to do that? I don't know Hebrew and I don't know Arabic. Just so happens that my husband works at a seminary (Andover Newton Theological School) where, you guessed it, there is an Interfaith Professor, a Hebrew Professor, and BINGO, an Islamic Professor!  I am most grateful to the help they provided by doing the translations I needed and their perseverance to get it into a format that I could use. Thank you Jenny, Greg and Celene.

So what was printed and woven into the piece? For Christianity, in English, I printed the first line of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name", for Judaism in Hebrew, part of the Shema, "Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.", and for Islam in Arabic, "There is no god but God".  Under each of these ribbons was another ribbon with the same phase for each, "Peace, Salaam, Shalom".  At the end of each silk ribbon row was an olive wood bead from my "stash of stuff" which I acquired from my mother-in-law's "stash of stuff".  Perfect! They were waiting for this moment!

©Judy Connor Jones

When the piece was completed and I took it off the loom, I was so moved by the colors and the incorporating of the prayers that it became a Holy moment.  My hands had created something I never dreamed I would do.  So many serendipitous things happened in the making of this piece that it is hard to believe that my hand was the only hand creating it. The Great Creator's Hand was definitely present.


The piece was shipped off and presented to the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA at their Mission Summit, June, 2015. The Program presentation was called "Draping of the Mantle", a reference to an ancient tradition. PERFECT! I was honored to be a part of it.

So what's next? I don't know.  I do know that something new and creative is around the corner. The idea of working with the Interfaith concept is gnawing at me. I can't ignore it!

I leave you with a collage of pictures including the draping of the mantle and a blessing that you may be wrapped with the mantle of inspiration and creativity.

Please respect copyrights, © and ©Judy Connor Jones

Monday, August 03, 2015

Shawls Are More Than A Wrap!

I recently was commissioned to create an Interfaith Prayer Shawl which was to be a retirement gift for the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA. It was to be presented to him at the biennial Mission Summit held in Kansas City at the end of June.

After I'd agreed to the commission I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into! What was an interfaith prayer shawl?  What faiths to include? After all there are many all over the world. Had this been done before by someone? Could I find something on the internet to help?

The specifications were:

 1 -  represent the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity
 2 -  without specifically being a Tallit (Jewish Prayer Shawl), it could incorporate a few of the elements such as the Tzitzit
 3 -  Be a specially designed handwoven piece instead of a knitted shawl that the Prayer Shawl Ministry makes to give to people for whom they are praying.

This was to be a whole different thing made special for the occasion and the person for whom it was intended. Wow! Breathe! What a challenge! You can do this!

Where to start?

First I needed to discover if there was such thing as an Interfaith Prayer Shawl or if anyone had made one before. So I began my research. I found lots of Interfaith art work but nothing was wearable. After many hours of researching and not discovering anything, the question became "What was I going to do"? Panic, of course!!!

It occurred to me that I needed to remember what I, as a weaver, do best, Work With Color! (A "DUH" moment!)

Ok, got that! NOTE TO SELF: The colors will progress from the desert colors for the nomadic tribes of Judaism and Islam to the colors representing the majesty of God for all three faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) to the blues and greens of Living Water representing Christianity. My palette was set after I looked to my shelves to see what yarns worked in the color way I wanted. Amazingly, I had all the colors I needed in my stock of Tencel. This would be a good weight for the shawl and when woven in a twill and plain weave structure allow the right amount of drape.  Here is the final palette, 12 colors in all including a gold metallic yarn.

You'll notice there are only 11 colors here.  I added one more to the dessert colors because I didn't think the colors were strong enough.  I had just ordered the color Sienna from my supplier. Turned out it was the perfect color addition. It is in the card wrapping below.

The next step was to figure out what else would make this a special prayer shawl. I wanted to somehow incorporate prayers into the weaving.  But how to do that? And what prayers? More research needed!

I'll leave it here for now and follow up with another blog post on what happened next. While you wait, here are a few pictures of putting the yarn on the loom to weave the sampler and choose the weft color.

Can't wait to show you what came next!