Joy-Lily Transforms Fabric into Art

Joy-Lily, San Francisco-based Fiber/Surface Design Artist. Photo by Mary Gow
Joy-Lily, San Francisco-based Fiber/Surface Design Artist. Photo by Mary Gow
It’s as long as a professional NBA basketball player is tall. That’s the size of a silk painting of two gargantuan brilliant red and orange sunflowers painted on silk fabric that bring to life the stairwell of her home in Bernal Heights. It’s called “Georgia’s Poppies,” made originally as a sarong that now functions as a wall hanging.

Joy Lily’s been around fabric and making clothes most of her life. Originally from Detroit, she’s the daughter of a dressmaker. “I was grounded a young child by a mild case of polio, so I made a lot of art early on.” At age 20 she began her career as a graphic artist and illustrator and for the next 16 years she designed ads, book covers, brochures and logos in New York City.

On a visit to her brother in southern California, she discovered batik (wax resist dyeing). She was captivated by this magical technique and even convinced a client to use it for a series of recipe illustrations.

She’s called Bernal Heights home since 1986, and here she’s pursued her passion as a fiber artist / surface designer. “I don’t weave or knit, but plain fabric is just not safe around me. I will dye it, paint or print on it and lately I’ve been chopping it up and sewing it back together. I’m making quilts from this ‘art cloth,’” says Lily.

"Tree," painting on silk by Joy-Lily. Photo by Mary Gow
“Tree,” painting on silk by Joy-Lily. Photo by Mary Gow

The patterns and colors in nature inspire her, as well as her travels, and the accidental effects of the dyeing techniques batik and shibori (Japanese resist dyeing without wax also known as the grandmother of tie-dyeing and involves tying, stitching, clamping, or wrapping fabric).

“Shibori makes an artist out of everybody,” she said.

Lily’s written a book for quilters of all levels (including complete beginners), called Carefree Quilts. It features perfection-free quilting techniques and what Lily calls her “quirky quilt blocks.” Autographed copies are available directly from her.

Wednesday afternoons Lily instructs a quilting class in Bernal.

By special request she will teach a four-hour workshop on how to hand paint and dye your own silk scarf. The host gets complimentary tuition if she brings 8 people together to take the course.

You can see more of Lily’s work and enroll in classes at or visit her studio by appointment.

Paper Cutout Artist: Kurt Stoeckel

Dancing Under a Rorshach Cloud, sandblasted glass panel by Kurt Stoeckel
Dancing Under a Rorshach Cloud, sandblasted glass panel by Kurt Stoeckel
February 10th is the last day of the Henri Matisse works on paper exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in mid-town Manhattan. This link takes you scrolling through parts of the show.

We have a talented paper cutout artist right here in northern California. Kurt Stoeckel lives in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco.

His paintings, photographs, sculpture and glasswork all look like paper cutouts. Now he’s creating LED lamps. One-of-a-kind ones.

An elongated glass panel stands 65 inches tall by 22 inches wide near a doorway in his studio. Etched into it is a line drawing that looks like a cutout of two people dancing under a cloud that has animal-like shapes inside of them.

The sandblasted panel has a background light that comes with the ability to change from red to green to blue or combinations those three colors using a remote control.

Dancing Under a Rorshach Cloud reflects the current fascination of paper cutout artist, Kurt Stoeckel.

“I’ve always liked indirect lights that are kind to the eye,” he said.

The elegance of his work reflects what he values. “I love the functionality and design of the Art Deco Era. Every product was designed to have some intrinsic value beyond its use.”

It was an era of “a conscious and universal attempt to make utilitarian items also pleasant to live around. For example toasters didn’t have to have all those deco designs and shapes. And because they did they were pleasant to live around and they also made toast. Making toast was secondary and the rest of the time it’s a beautiful piece of art. It’s a generosity to all of us to live around the comfort of a pleasing design.”

Kurt Stoeckel, paper cutout artist. Photo by Mary Gow
Kurt Stoeckel, paper cutout artist. Photo by Mary Gow
Stoeckel grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His father loved photography and theater. “He trusted me with his cameras even after I dropped one. I appeared in every play requiring a child in a perambulator,” he said. His grandfather liked everything mechanical. “He taught me how to cut out metal shapes with a torch when I was ten.”

“That was my beginning, memorizing lines and welding things together.”

In 1994 he moved to Bernal Heights. “Painting had replaced metal sculpture.” He credits Bernal artist Toby Klayman as an influence. She taught painting at City College. He took her class and later became her teaching assistant.

He took lots of pictures. “I thought of myself more as a “What if” experimenter than a photographer creating compositions. Photography was one meditative roll of 36 exposures of film a week.”

“I still find joy and peace in a meditative walk with a camera. I now choose compositions that begin with ‘What If?’ I imagine turning a decade of photos into a ten day stop-action film.”

He considers himself now primarily a paper cutter. “I’ve made 10,000 of them while living here. I still paint. My paintings look a lot like paper cut outs.”

Since 2008 Stoeckel also teaches photography and theater technology classes in a local high school.

“I feel very fortunate to have a waiting list of collectors for my paintings,” he said.

He continues experimenting.

It’s All About Your Bass

The Red Mouse by Mary Gow
The Red Mouse by Mary Gow

“You are creators, and you are vibrational beings. You are more about electronics; you are more about electricity; you are more about vibration than you are about the physical stuff that you think you are about. This physical stuff that you think you are about is all vibrational.”
Abraham (Excerpted from the workshop: Spokane, Wash. on July 07, 1999)

With the 57th Annual Grammy Awards last night, I’m reminded of the song that was number one on the music charts for eight weeks in the summer of 2014, “All About That Bass,” written by Kevin Kadish and Meghan Trainor.

In an interview with Billboard Magazine target=”_blank”, Trainor says the song is all about loving yourself and your gluteus maximus.

From an auditory sense, your “bass” is your vibration. And often what we attract is what we’re putting out in our vibes. What we get is what we see.

I remember long ago when my sisters left for college. We three had shared one small bedroom. I repainted the walls in the tiny half bath we had shared. Then I put up a bunch of photos of various places in the world. I wasn’t really thinking of it as my vision board. There was a picturesque scene of green rolling hills that look just like what I see in northern California. Another photo was of a skier coming down a mountain in Austria.

Staring at them everyday must’ve made an imprint in my subconscious because I got myself to those rolling hills and to skiing in Austria – an accomplishment for a girl from humble beginnings.

What kind of neural pathways are you making with your thoughts? What kind of vibes are you putting out in the world?

About the Art:
I took a photo of my red mouse on my red mouse pad. I then applied the Paper Artist app to the photo.

One of My Coaches

What are your action items?

What progress have you made to get those done?

What’s the big picture goal?

Those are just a few of the questions life coaches ask.

One of my current coaches is Darren Hardy, who’s a motivational speaker, author, and publisher of Success Magazine.

I’m getting daily coaching and mentoring by subscribing to Darren Daily. By signing up you’ll be reminded to strive for excellence, stay fit, don’t look for external validation.

His daily messages are delivered Mondays through Fridays via email, text or both.

The dailies are concise.

In a recent post I mentioned graphic facilitation. Some of his videos use this technique.

Hardy also has some excellent tips for goal setting in his book, The Compound Effect.

He shares these forms online for free. Here’s the link. The downloadable forms are available in several languages.

You can sign up for your own dose of Darren Daily at