sow, mend

Yesterday was a big, wonderful, happy day over here. Beginning with my husband ACING his big fat electrical exam. After four and a half years of studying and apprenticing, I am married to a Journeyman!

So we celebrated through spontaneous smiles, embraces and exhales that afternoon as we readied for my art opening. It was decidedly spring, warm with birds singing and worms dancing, chickens strutting and tulips sun saluting.

my parents surprised me with a beautiful fresh flower hair comb

I have been preparing for my show for a year, sorting and rolling dryer lint, cutting and stitching paper, sculpting thread butterflies with toothpicks, repairing broken eggs...it feels wild and wholly magnificent to have it all done and up together in a gallery.

Gallery owner and amazing woman, Jennifer Leutzinger, putting my name in the window (assistance by Ruby Jane)

The opening was kind of magical for me and I was teary several times. I loved meeting some of you, loved the steady stream of my friends giving hugs and encouragement, loved feeling good about what was on the walls, good about my life, my friends, my community.


I loved my daughters there. I think about what I want my kids to remember and know about me, when they are old and explaining my personality and life to others. I hope they remember me as a sincere person, devoted to my family, friends, art, nature, movement, growth. I hope they remember that I did things that were scary and hard, I continued to learn and evolve, that sometimes I succeeded and other times I failed. That I tried, that I loved, that I lived.

my kids were with me during some of the installation last week

Last night Margot watched me. She will remember me as I am now. She will remember that people came to see my art, the stuff she witnessed me make and mess up on, problem-solve, find success in and struggle through. It made me feel proud in that same vulnerable way I felt proud right after birth.


Among all the normal, wonderfulness of the evening there are a few funny stories. Like, my husband yelled at a dude who intentionally flicked an egg on the way out the door. "Hey man, that's not cool. That's my wife's art. Have some respect," he said with Margot on his hip. Bro bra got all puffy chested and defensive and yelled, right in Andy's face, "I did not. What are you going to do about, man?!" And my Journeyman said with a smile, "I am not going to do anything about it, man." Bro bra swaggered on and Margot thinks her papa is amazing for "telling that angry man that touching art is not good at all."


Also, a semi-drunk, very funny man who professed himself to be a "semi-famous author" got down on one knee, held my hand and declared his love for my art, my "sense of order." He quoted Jack London and told me I would be a millionaire.


Then we went to dinner, 12 friends piled into a giant, oyster shell booth for burgers and wine. And the evening rounded out nicely with dancing to Cash for Junkers, my friend Grace rockin' the fiddle and me ignoring my sore feet to dance the jitterbug and learn the waltz.

It was a good day.

Now, would you like to virtually visit The Brink?

Installation week

I find it hard to photograph my work so that all the details that are near and dear to my concept shine through. It relies on shadow and interaction, getting up close, secret reveals. But, here is a stab at it...photos accompanied by snippets from my artist statement.

I Can Fix It. (one week of eggs, beeswax, thread)


We have a small flock of hens who provide eggs for our family. We eat a lot of eggs. We pile the egg shells in a countertop pail and, eventually, the uniformly stacked egg towers land in the compost pile. I always feel a little sad about it, like at some point I personified the shells. They grew in our hens and carried important nourishment for my family. The hard, smooth, symmetrical vessels are so perfectly protective of their contents.


Right now, Margot's sadness evaporates with a hug, Ruby's frustration melts with an airplane ride. Right now, in my daughters' eyes, I Can Fix It. In reality, kids, like egg shells, are fragile and susceptible. Every crack and experience forever a part of their story.

equinox, solstice, equinox, solstice. again. (48 photos on wood, 12 of each season)


Since the birth of my first daughter three years ago, I find the clich矇 statements about time and children to be true. Time seems to move at a new clip, the seasons whir by like pages of a board book.


My camera is my trustworthy pal, it grounds me solidly and electrifies my surroundings. I frame and focus on ordinary moments. Through my lens I am present, I discover my fleeting, evolving, inspiring world.

new growth. old growth. (four years of 275, 301 words, thread)


From March 18, 2007-March 18, 2011, I wrote 275, 301 words online. Though my blog and my weekly column, my little online corner has witnessed my most life-changing experiences and has grown amazing friendships. The whole thing has blown me away.


I compiled and printed everything I have published and started cutting the words apart, making organic shapes out of the linear type. It felt strange to not honor the chronological rhythm of my work but fun to reformat, recreate my work. I stitched the pieces back together, branches of type, roots of language, flowers of memory, birds of thought.

everything becomes dust (six months of dryer lint)


Dust is defined as something of no worth or particles of matter regarded as the result of disintegration. A freckle of dust is of no consequence, I couldn't even hold it. Yet, many specks, particles, freckles all together make formidable clouds. Someday I will be part of a cloud.

My friend, Patricia, standing next to the cloud she purchased.

hatch (three months of thread waste)


Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insects, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, Cnidarians, echinoderms and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior.

I design and make clothing. I save all the little tails of thread that are usually thrown away when sewing. All of those tiny, insignificant clippings become piles of dense material. A wieldy, organic mass that, when repositioned, joined and nourished, takes on new life.


How long did it take you to make the tree/roll the dryer lint/piece the eggs together?

I don't know! I did much of these things in small windows of time over the course of many months. All the pieces of paper for the tree were stitched together before I installed and most of it was pieced together in the gallery, pinned to the wall, more sewing etc.

sewing my cut-up words together in the gallery

How do you come up with your ideas? What is your creative process?

The medium often informs my creative choices. I rarely have an idea for a finished piece and then seek the right thing to make it; I almost always have the thing collected/organized and then I decide what I will make. For example, I collect dryer lint and sort by color because it is amazing to me that tiny, tiny dust particles can amount to house-sized quantities of lint and that gray isn't gray at all when you look closely. Then I started thinking about how clouds are that way too--tiny, tiny droplets that amount to powerful forces of nature. That, everything will be dust at some point.

Is the dryer lint dyed?


Is your stuff for sale?

Yes, everything is for sale. A few clouds and several of the photos have sold but I am printing and mounting five of each photograph so more are available. Contact The Brink for information. Also, I will post a slideshow of the photos somewhere soon.

Lastly! My dress. I think it turned out pretty stinkin' cute.

sweet little shrug, footless tights and green shoes from my local favorite Betty's Divine

I used the Trapeze Dress pattern from Weekend Sewing. I made a medium and it was super comfy, but a bit too mu mu-like for my taste. I love the big pockets, I love the general shape. Alterations: added a box pleat in the front center where dress attaches to bodice (the pattern only called for two box pleats), removed one inch from bodice diameter, stitched pleats in place eight inches down from bottom of bodice on the back of the dress, added two box pleat hand-sewn tacks to the front under my girls, straight down from outer edge of strap to create shape, hemmed to just above my knee.

How do I wrap this up? Just, yay. Enjoy! The rest of your weekend, life, your people, art. Enjoy.


:: :: ::

all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com


booksNyarn said...


Thank you for the virtual tour of your show! It is not only art, it is Life - and it is beautiful!

Daria said...

So Lovely! Sorry to have missed it and glad it went so well!


Sarah said...

I'm so proud of you and I don't even know you!!! Beautiful!

Happiness is... said...

I'm left speechless. So much depth. Love how you sewed up the words. Amazing effect. And the metaphor about the shells - how true, how poignant.

And Andy - Congratulations for acing the exam. And being the great defender. What a wonderful April 1st it was for your tribe - no joke.


Jennifer from Annapolis

Hot Hot JJ said...

Wow! Way to accomplish a dream. Your girls will remember how their mama wanted something and made it happen. I really love all the pieces. Just beautiful!

sarah said...

i love the show! it looks like the tree is running. from what, i'm not sure. you guys look cute. nice work. also, yay journeyman!

Yuliya said...

Thank you for letting us all be a part of it.

C said...

Ahh.. I tried hard to wait to check for an update, so I could read your post with my coffee in the morning. But I just couldn't help it, I had to read :)

Awesome work! Congrats to you! And congrats to your hubby too!

Tina said...

Congratulations, Nici! All your hard work definitely paid off, and you totally know it too - you totally rocked your art exhibit. I wish I could have been there to see it in person but I'm grateful for all the photos so we could have a little peek anyways. You must be on cloud nine!

Your art is amazing, creative, and inpsiring. Likewise, your parenting style and your outlook on life are also amazing, creative and inspiring. Your daughters are going to be increasingly proud and appreciative of you as they get older; you are truly a remarkable, astounding woman. I know this about you and we haven't even met, so those who know you are sincerely and obviously fortunate.

Congrats to Andy for (finally!) finishing his apprenticeship. What an accomplishment! Both you and him must be overwhelmed with relief, pride and excitement this weekend. I'll have a nice cold beer to celebrate on your behalf! ;)

So... I must ask. When will your next art exhibit be? :)

Mama Marchand said...

It's fantastic and you look beautiful. :) What a wonderful thing to share with your daughters!

michellespicka said...

Congratulations (to BOTH of you)!!

Thanks for sharing your work and amazing talent with us!

Mamachromatic said...

Just beautiful. I really like your unique perspective on art. Thanks for sharing. :)

Kelle said...

Don't even know how to comment. Kept checking today knowing something was coming. So, so proud of you, but you know that. I'm so proud of the way you expressed yourself. Every bit of it Nici...the art, the words...it's so you. It is so transparent and genuine and anyone who knows you knows this is just you. I'm so lucky to know you, to love you.
Bravo, my friend. It's all so very beautiful.

Karen said...

Excellent job. I can't wait for you to post the slideshow of your work so we can buy some awesome stuff!

Andy said...

What a great show! My favorite was your tree of words. We, so often, don't realize the power of our words, the amount of our words, and the impact of our words. I loved seeing everything through your lens.

Four months ago, I received my new camera. Still learning all it can do, but relish every moment I capture.


Coach Jen said...

Incredible, Nici! What a wonderful time of your life, and a time where you and your husband will never forget.....the beginning of something so so very huge:)

Congratulations to both you and Andy. I can't wait to take my kids down to check out your art while it is still there.

You are truly an inspiration!

LCR said...

wow wow wow! you inspire me (and many people i'm sure) SO much. What a beautiful representation of art from your life. I admire how you have turned motherhood and every day life into something tactile that we can all admire. Just magical.

TRB Holt said...

simply....brilliant..all of it.

I am so so proud

I love you Burb

Mary A-J :) said...

Absolutely MAGNIFICENT!!!! I am soooo happy for you. You art is phenomenal and so was your dress. :) I love the family photo at the end!

Also, congrats to Andy and your entire family for all the support you have provided him to help him reach his goal of JOURNEYMAN!

Puget Sound Mama said...


Monique said...

WOW!! Congrats on a successful, amazing and thrilling evening for you and your family!! Your art so speaks about who you are as a woman and as a Mama of two precious littles-outstanding!! Your beautiful girls will always remember this magical moment in their lives!!! You are incredible in so many ways...no wonder you and Kelle Hampton are soul sisters!!!

...super cute outfit!!! Perfect for the occasion!!

Happy and relaxing weekend to you


seamusmom said...

Beautiful. Everything; you, the girls, the art. Just beautiful. You should be proud of yourself, girl and yay Andy!!

Tonya said...

Thank you for sharing your exhibit with us! I love it, especially the eggs. Good for Andy on calling that dude out! And congratulations to Andy as well! Sounds like a wonderful weekend all the way around. Can't wait to see the pictures close up!

Denise said...

Congratulations! What an exciting day for you and your family! You artwork is beautiful! You are so inspiring!

Kelly said...

Congratulations! You're such an inspiration! :)

Marti said...

Great Job! It all seems so awesome! Wish I could see it in person!

Melanie Gardner said...

You pulled it off... And it is great! I'm glad I came by early, by the photos I wouldn't have been able to see over the crowd! Congrats!

Minnesotagal said...

Words fail me - what am amazing exhibition! My favorite is I Can Fix It. From the concept to the title to the fact that the eggs look whole when reflected. I can not believe that a grown man actually flicked an egg!! Andy is clearly as amazing a parent as you are for the way he handled that. Congrats to you new Journeyman as well!

It is so strange to me to feel such a connection to someone I've never meet. I was nervous and excited with you as if you were my girlfriend next door. And I am thrilled for you that things went so well. Congrats Nici!

Snippets said...

Big Congratulations!

I really loved this post. It is beautiful to see how this all came together for you. You've managed to sew your life, your work and your art together with amazing results. I'm so inspired by all of it.

I'm thinking of contacting the gallery to see if I cant purchase one of your pieces and have it shipped here to Australia. Wonderful stuff, you must be amazingly proud.

clove's corner said...

Oh, thanks for sharing! I know it can be hard to photograph art--it's like trying to photograph a broad, sweeping desert in mid-day sun. I especially liked Patricia standing next to the clouds--I didn't realize they are so big! I don't know what my favorite is: the word tree? The butterflies? The lint clouds... can't wait to see a slideshow of the photos-on-board.

What I love most is how it's all YOU, all wrapped up. Words, parenting, sewing, domesticity, seasonal influence...all YOU right down to your damn dress. Totally awesome. Nice work.

Indiana in B'more said...

i'm so happy for you, and so proud to "know you" through this internet thing...amazing art, amazing outlook on life and family. mazel tov :-)

Liliana said...

So wonderful. I love it all. I wish I see it in person. Washington is a bit far though. Hmm.

Big congrats to you and your family! It's like a new era. New sprouts. New beginnings. Awesome.

katie [the bright life] said...

congrats, looks like an awesome show! and that fresh flower clip is seriously gorg...i didn't even know those existed! :) xo, katie

Malissa said...

Congratulations. You and your art are beautiful. Well done!!

Monica said...

Wow! that's all I can say.. just WOW!! Congrats on the opening and thank you so so much for giving all of us that wish we could be there a personal tour. Can't wait to see the photo slide show. And I will never look at my dryer lint the same way again.

and a big congrats to Andy!!

by the way, my favorite pic from this post has to be the last one... what a lovely family picture! Did you make Margot's dress too?

Malissa said...

Congrats to Andy too. My husband is a lineman. Different from an electrician but he went through a four year apprenticeship. That is a big feat and especially in the middle of having babies and life and all that. :) Congrats, congrats, congrats you two!

Eva said...

How can you make dryer lint look so beautiful?

Congrats, Nici. You looked beautiful last night, too (as always).

rebecca said...

,,,i'm speechless and that doesn't happen often,,,i wish i could have been there,,,well done nici holt-cline, well done!,,,

LondonHeather said...

Having heard a bit about this in your recent blogs, I was delighted to read that it went so well, and really pleased to find pictures. Well done! And congratulations to Andy too- you two must be over the moon!

Lynn Ann said...

Bravo lady....exceptional, inspiring work that reflects your soul, your truth. Authentic living at it's best....with love and much admiration from Ballarat, Australia

Jeanne said...

First, congress to your adorable husband! Journeyman is something to be proud of!

You continue to be an inspiration to me in just about every way. I loved the cloud installation. The subtly textured and colored lint was wonderful. As well as the feeling it created. The butterflies were stunning along with the shadows of the shell piece.

Congrats on your show!

serialswooper.com said...

Yay you!


Well, except the egg flicker. Hate him.



Joanna said...

i know last time I tried to hide my potty mouth by using symbols rather than letters. And, I know it's Sunday and all. But I just have to say FUCK YES GIRL! Awesome. Inspiring.

Just now Asa kept asking me to come to the bedroom to talk to him, and I kept saying hold on, I'm coming. Finally he said, no you're not. And i explained to him that I was looking at something inspiring (your post). He asked what inspiring meant, and I started to say, motivating, uplifting, and he screeched EXCITING? And, I said yep, exactly. So, here's to you Nici! Way to inspire, and be inspired!!

jenny of all trades said...

Wow - such an inspired show! Every piece is so thoughtful and real. Wish I could see it in person, but thanks for the photos. And you look marvelous! What a hip mama you are. Your girls are lucky!

Tina C. said...


barbaras said...

Fabulous Nici! So glad you put it online for those of us far away to see!

KWQR said...

Yay you! Congratulations on an amazing show... and to Andy too for his exam.
I will never look at my dryer lint the same way. :-)
Love the butterflies!
Well done Mama.

cheryl said...

congrats! looks like an incredible day! love your art and creativity and photos!

Julia said...


Congratulations to both you and Andy!

I so agree with all of the previous comments about how beautiful and inspiring both you and your art are.

dress: scrumptious (how sweet of your parents to think of the flowers)
art: provocative and symbolic and amazingly creative.
Andy: Kudos for speaking up to that guy, kudos for showing the children there is a great deal that can be said without saying it.

I am also proud of you. How is this possible?

6512 and growing said...


I'm blown away by your courage and creativity. You are an amazing woman.

Also, damn you look hot in that dress!

Gramomster said...

Awesome! Wonderful! Beautiful!

Amazing, your creativity. I just love every last bit!

Looking forward to the slideshow too!

Gorgeous family photo. You are ALL just lovely.

Wesley said...

Congrats on a job well done! Your art turned out amazing!! I especially love the tree and the butterflies. Beautiful work. Wish I could have been there to see it - maybe next time! :-)

April said...

Congrats, I bet your show was amazing!! I love the block photos, would love to buy some on your etsy site????

Callie said...

Congratulations! to an accomplished artist and brand new journeyman and yay! for two lucky girls who have such wonderful go-for-it role models!

Kate said...

Beautiful! Congrats on your show!

Honey said...

That's more than just "pulling it off!" It came together beautifully.

The flowers in your hair are absolutely beautiful, to!

Oh- and congrats to the Journeyman!

dig this chick said...

Monica, Yes, I made Margot's dress. And Ruby's pants!

Joanna, I love your comment. Thanks for sharing that little window!

April, the photos are available for purchase through the gallery for the month. Whatever is available after that I could totes post to etsy! Good idea.

All: You are amazing and encouraging and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to chime in. xo

Jenn said...

I really enjoyed this. All of it. The art, your words, the glimpse through the camera. Thank you letting us be apart of it and Congratulations on a successful show!


Logan said...

So amazing! I loved the shadows the egg shells made on the walls. I can't wait to go back to The Brink and really study everything. Congratulations.

Diabra said...

Just wanted to say wow and well done. Inspiring.

Melissa said...

fabulous family photo there at the end.

i especially love your re-purposed thread art. really love it!

you look so gorgeous and i'm so glad to (sort of) know you. and i can't help but mention that i love the photo of sassy G pointing to you!

kendra said...

amazing. i love your art. especially i can fix it. when my son cried because i broke his banana in half i fixed it with a skewer. so true.

Maria said...

WOW!! Just...WOW. Your artist's words were just lovely, your creative process just amazing. Can't wait to see more pictures.
How fortunate your girls are to grow up surrounded by art & loved by two very cool parents. Bravo!

Daniele said...

Beautiful!! I only wish I could have been there to lay my eyes on it all. Congrats on everything.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Well, I'm with the semi-famous author. I am wowed. There's something about a perfect grid that speaks to my soul...and I think I've already told you how I feel about dryer lint. I am so, so proud of you. I have been working on the bookish thing and I feel a little raw and full and protective over it and so often those thoughts would lead me directly to you, as you prepared to unveil your art - a piece of you. You did it, Mama. And you looked lovely doing it. And that fresh flower comb? Well, don't even get me started...

Lisa said...

What an accomplishment, Nici. Congratulations! And, you looked absolutely beautiful...radiant!
I cannot not wait to be able to take a closer look at your pictures.

Thanks for letting us be a part of that incredible journey!

Annia said...

I'm going to add to the chorus of all that's been said, which is - you and your family are simply amazing and beautiful. I think and feel this every time I stumble upon your little corner of the web, but today, it feels especially apt to come right out and say it. Nici, thank you for sharing all that you do and congratulations! You truly deserve it.

Jo @ Jo in the Kitchen said...

Congratulations to both you and Andy! What an amazing day for your family

Sage said...

Nici, you pulled it off! And I love love your art, it is exactly the kind of art that inspires me, fluid, temporary, and real.

What a great day for you and your family. Simply beautiful, all of it!

Congrats to Andy as well!

Cheers to success and growth!


Elizabeth said...

I have been an art lover all of my life...looking at art, researching art, doing art...but I must admit that sometimes I do not understand installation type art..

Well...you changed all of that for me today! Your beautiful piece has so much meaning and thought behind it. Not to mention the many hours of creating the art. Thank you!

xoxo Elizabeth

Abby said...

Amazing work! I wish I could be there in person to see it!

Meredith said...

A journeyman! Fresh flowers, birds, eggs, clouds......
Lively and lucious!

taylor said...

AMAZING! always love your website. and i love that you live in missoula b/c i used to live there. i miss it. if i still lived there i so would have been there. you are so artistic and creative. love it all!

Abs said...

Beautiful stuff...art as well as the words. Can't wait to see the photo blocks close up.

Lola said...

Beautiful and soulful like you!
You are glowing!
Love your art and words
and pictures.

Amie said...

Great job, Nici! I absolutely love it. Wish I could have seen it in person. Maybe someday...

Katie (Mama May I) said...

Amazing! All of it...so very you.

Kristine said...

a big huge congratst to you, nici.
i have to share with you that as i gathered my lint from my dryer yesterday to put in my compost bin....i rolled a piece into a ball and took notice of it's color. and i smiled.

MeganMR said...

I'm really liking your "kids, like egg shells" analogy. I can really relate to that. Since I wasn't able to come to your show, I really enjoyed seeing it here! I love your perspective. Thank you for sharing.

FinnyKnits said...

Almost as good as being there...*almost*.

I'm totally overwhelmed with that full happy feeling that comes with pride and adoration - everything has so much feeling and reason and hands-on-ness about it.

Love. LOVE. Love.

And, Andy is totally right. Have some respect, y'all.

Heathrow's World said...

Ah, this is so beautiful. I love it! I can feel your pride and happiness. Best of luck with it! And you've inspired me :)

omundsen said...

Love the exhibit!!! Major kudos to Andy as well. My husband has a year left before he can take that huge scary exam and become an official Journeyman so I know how much work it takes. What an awesome day for your family :)

Annie said...

Hooray! I LOVE reading the thoughts behind the art. I live in MN, so I am not able to see your show in person at this time, but I really enjoyed seeing it here. Thank you for sharing it! The I Can Fix It display really hits home with me. Wonderful!

Baby By The Sea said...

So proud of you my friend! Awesome, awesome, awesome! I wish I could have seen it in person, but thanks so much for the tour.

I want to sip coffee and look at all those squares of images. Beautiful.


Joan said...

WOW Nicole!!! Your happiness and pride in your accompishment comes accross perfectly in all these photos. What a happy day for the whole family. I am so proud of you. SO PROUD of you!! The installation is amazing. XOXO

Dear Kate said...

Love it. Great work! You are a very inspiring mama!

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