Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Season of Gratefulness

   It has been an amazing year!

    Several years ago I was at a point in my career where I just wasn't sure what direction I was to go in. Working at a museum job that I really enjoyed, but not giving the attention to my folk art was causing me to pause and ask, "Is this what I am really supposed to be doing?''. Well, it was time for me to stop trying to direct my own steps and rely on the One who has the plan for my life.

    It hasn't always been easy, and sometimes the work has been grueling, but seeing the results has been something I didn't anticipate. The results have been all of You!

    Hearing from so many of you and you're amazing words of encouragement has been such a gift. While I cannot reply to all of the messages I receive, I want all of you to know that I read them and am just so grateful that you would take time to reach out to me. Having met so many of you this past year, and looking forward to meeting many more of you this coming year, is one of the most exciting parts of the work that I do. Thank You!

    When I talk about my work, it really isn't mine alone. It's a gift given to me from the Lord who has blessed me with  a family that lends their own time and talents to help. Without them I wouldn't get half as much done and none of the tech stuff. There are so many others whose work has enhanced mine. All of the publishing team that worked on the book, and those that felt it was worth buying or selling. Then there is all the appreciation I have for my show partner. Thank You!

  Have a meaningful and joyous Thanksgiving!


Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 118:1

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Leaf Season!

      Leaves! Have you ever really examined them? What is is about them that inspires such creativity?

A very stylized version of a leaf that lends itself well to folk art.
          Leaves are the one motif I stitch the most. This was not something I realized until recently when I was taking stock of my designs. It would seem that I have an affinity for these lovely, life-giving shapes fashioned by the hand of the Creator. Not only are they an essential part of a plant or tree in order to obtain nutrients, but in some cases the leaf outshines the flower or shape of the flora.

Oak leaves are a favorite of mine. It is amazing the variation of hues they come in.

      In my journeys into the woods and fields, I pick up lots of Fall leaves. It is a fun exercise to study their textures, colors, and of course their shapes. Like snowflakes, no two leaves seem to be the same even though they have grown on the same tree and even the same branch.

                        Well, the leaves are turning, blowing, and falling. Just right for picking!

Simple leaf design. Adding a layer of wool mimics color variations.

View out our front windows!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Winner

      Thank you all so much for all of the lovely comments on the Blog Tour! Here is the winner of a book and the "Bag O' Wooly Leaves:

            Betty of Samplings from Spring Creek. Send me an email at

Saturday, August 29, 2015


      As we wrap up a week of blogging about the book, I wanted to take this time to share just how grateful I feel for the opportunity given me to share the work I have been blessed to accomplish. I have wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, although I wasn't always sure what that would look like. But I allowed the Lord to lead me through different stages of my art, and He has brought me into an impelling time for my work.

     The response to the book has been nothing short of overwhelming. It has been in large part to a great network of support that started with family and friends whose encouragement led me to realize I might be able to write this book as well as the C&T Publishing family and their wonderful system of support. Once the book was released, it has been the notes, emails, messages, and phone calls that has shown me just how the book has been embraced.

    This book really belongs to all of you! While I was in the midst of writing, I often thought about the reader. It has always been my pleasure to share this work I do, and now to know how well it has been received is a blessing beyond words. So, while I cannot respond to all of the tidings I want to be sure that all of you know of my deep gratitude.

    Next year I have a busy travel and teaching schedule so I hope to meet many of you and share in your own work.

To be entered into the drawing for a book and the "Bag O' Wool Leaves" be sure to leave a comment on this blog post. These are for U.S. addresses only. Outside of the U.S. you will receive an E-Book version of the book.

Also, I cannot say how much it meant to have the participation of such talented and generous ladies as Doreen, Patti, Lori Ann, & Cheri. They were so willing to give up some of their precious time to help me with this Blog Tour.

Thank you so much,


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A View into "Wool Applique Folk Art"

    From the very start of the journey into creating this book of projects, I knew exactly how I wanted my pieces to be photographed and where I wanted it photographed. The pictures in my mind were of each project piece in a period setting giving the reader an idea of how the piece could be used. The photographs were going to set the stage of the book and really give life to my work. All along as I designed, stitched, and wrote, I continued to develop how each piece could be staged for their big photo shoot.

    Once the technical writing was finished it was time to focus on the long day of photography it would take to get just the right shots to express the feel of this book. It started with my West Coast publishing company choosing a photographer in Northeast Ohio. Not only did they find a capable photographer, but Laura is also a very talented artist with the camera. We set the big date for July.

Before I even wrote my book proposal, I had approached Ron & Kathy Wright about the idea to photograph my work in their beautiful and historic home should the publisher agree. The Marshall House is a stately home that sits on a bluff overlooking the Grand River and is steeped in history of local and national importance. It was built by a leading citizen of the community and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. With many period-styled rooms and a wonderful collection of antiques, their home would offer just the right backdrops.

Now it was time to assemble the team. Yes, it definitely took a team. I have two highly trained assistants in my daughters Kelsey and Karly. They are both artists in their own rights whose advice and design skills I can always count on. The three of us along with homeowner Kathy worked a whole day a week in advance of the photo shoot to get each piece staged in just the right setting. The Wrights were very generous to let us move items in their collection from room to room in order to achieve just the right setting. 

The day of the photo shoot arrived dark and gloomy. The final and important team member, Laura arrived with gear in tow and ready to get started. Once she had a look at our settings and set up all of her equipment, we dived right in knowing that it was going to be a long day. We divided into two teams now, with Kelsey and I staging each shot just ahead of Laura and her assistant Karly who would get the shot and which would then be approved by all. Then Kelsey and I would clean up after each shot and return items to where they belonged in the house. We had started at 9am and with a brief lunch break, finished at 6pm. We gathered around Laura's computer at the end of the day to see the fruits of all out labors. It was an amazing moment as I saw for the first time my book come to life in these pictures.

To say "Thank you" to Ron & Kathy for their generous use of the Marshall House seems so inadequate as I am so grateful for all of their support. Laura's talent with a camera is so evident in these photos, and I am just so thankful C&T found her. My two assistants also deserve a lot of credit for always being willing to support me in my work.

As this journey with my book continues, I will share more about it with you in hopes it will inspire.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Making of "Wool Applique Folk Art"

Last year this post was a favorite among readers so I would like to share it again with new readers. 

      Hello readers! My name is Tessa Smith, the daughter of your favorite Rebekah L. Smith. I would just like you to see the difficult and extremely stressful steps to writing a book. My mother has been working hard all winter and spring to get it done, and I would like you all to see what she has to go through. I must warn you, though, she may not exactly know about these photos, for I took them when I encountered them from afar.
    This first photo is of the "Design Phase," or where she starts to get her ideas out for her book projects. The Himalayas of paper you see all around her are the sketches she either didn't like or she hated them (there is a difference). Also to keep herself awake and focused, she used really bright colored markers, because the black was dull and boring. She doesn't want either of those things to be included in the process or the actual book itself.
    During the next "Wool-Sorting" stage, she was what she called "hard at work." I don't buy it, because I found her sound asleep after sitting there for seven minutes. Yes, I felt bad, but she is the one who stayed up too late coming up with her final design. I think she finally got it.
    This next step is the "Cutting and Snipping" stage. I was startled by the giant "snippers" (I call them shears) she was wielding in such a drowsy state. I was at the same time impressed she could cut such tiny and fine details into the wool. You can see them in the design behind her.  

 This photo shows the "stitching" step. As you may see by her garments, it was the dead of the winter when she was trying to get this done. After a while, she couldn't feel the small needle in her hand, so she started to have to use bigger and bigger ones. She ended up using a three inch long needle.
     The next step on her journey to being an author in print was the "Writing Stage." Since she was writing a traditional styled book, she decided to wear colonial dressing, in company with a quill and inkwell. After she got a little tired of the fancy script writing and flimsy feather, she time-traveled a hundred years ahead. She liked the idea of the retro style typewriter, which she said was going to be as advanced as she would get in this process of the book. She refused to touch a computer or smart device. Then one night, I woke up to strange noises in the basement. I go down to find her in the dark on her brand new laptop, typing away at the steps for this project in her book. She saw me and quickly closed her laptop and shooed me off to bed.

 This last picture was not taken by me, but it was intentional. This is her proudly holding up her finished project so my father could take the picture. I am very sorry for the inconvenient blacked-out part. That was her finished project, but she signed a contract, and she can't show it to the public until the book is released. Have a great day and I hoped you enjoyed this post. Signing off, Tessa Smith-13 years old.

Note: She actually does know about this post and approved it.

Now that the book has been released, it is time to sit back for some summer reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Wooly Weekend

 This weekend all came about, when Beth Anne Smiley, owner of Wheaten Woolens in Davenport Iowa, contacted me about holding a wool applique workshop at her rug hooking studio. I was excited about the prospect of taking my workshops on the road. For so many years I have been working in my studio and have stayed mainly close to home in Ohio with shows and workshops. It was time to take this on the road!

  My daughter Kelsey kindly agreed to accompany me on this adventure. She is a great traveling buddy and we always have a good time. She has been my apprentice since she was 14 years old and makes a great assistant as well. She is well-versed in what I do and can answer questions and take care of "the store".

 Just a note: Kelsey also takes all of the photos thus she is not in any of them.

    Wheaten Woolens is an oasis in the midst of a Davenport neighborhood. Beth Anne and her husband Barry have over two acres that lie six hundred feet above the Mississippi River. The stone house and barn are from the 1860's and true gems. We were so amazed to find their place surrounded by gardens, lots of trees, and hills that made it seem as if you were well out of the city and in the country.

    The wool studio, housed in the stone barn, is wonderful. Beth Anne has filled it with antiques, rugs, and tons of wool! For the classes each day, the ladies were working in the studio in this great setting. It was so inspiring and delightful to have the doors open to the gardens and be surrounded by so much talent and energy.

    The students came from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, & Texas. All of the ladies were so great to work with. They brought their enthusiasm and love of wool with them, and made the weekend so special!

    If you are ever in the Davenport area, you must look up Wheaten Woolens. Check the website for when the studio is open. Beth Anne also teaches rug hooking.