Domestic Season

Pot holder rack

I happen to love pot holders. Humble little works of sewing art, they don’t seem to require a whole lot of expertise. Which is fine by me. I am not a world class seamstress and never will be.

My fabric is already here, ready to go, and has been for decades–I am a fabric hound. Once purchased, it either became something or not. I save scraps, and I still have yards of virgin territory.

A recent beneficiary of a new sewing machine (thank you, Kirk!), I am armed for the new season. After sewing up the four sides of my mini-masterpiece to the batting, I relocate to the corner of the sofa, manage to thread the needle, and slip stitch away.

As long as my attention span holds, I will turn churn out pot holders. I have no system, no assembly line; I just cut, pin, sew, admire, (rip out), and basically indulge in the sewing equivalent of comfort food. Some are already destined to be gifts, a few may be sold around the holidays. I’m not going to get rich here, but that’s not the point.

It just feels like the thing I need to do, that’s all. And that’s enough.

Pink Panther pot holder

Pink Panther quilted fabric remnant

Pink Panter 2

and the back…or front?

Park bench pot holder

One of 6 squares to be sewn, upcycled from a 1950s circle skirt

rose pot holder

Salvaged slipcover from the 1940s. On the back is denim from an old pair of jeans.

Groovy pot holder

Feeling groovy! From curtain panels that adorned a bedroom at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Sperm potholder

Fabric from “the sperm shirt” (his, not mine)–bought in Paris when I was married, in the early 1980s.


And here is part of my collection:

Old Mill pot holder

The Old Mill~ purchased on a early 90s road trip in Bat Cave, NC.

retro pot holder

1950s retro (a pot holder with mitts?)

Campbells Kids pot holder

Campbells Kids, erased by time. Mmm, mmm good!

chicken pot holder

My Japanese quilter friend made me this. I love the chicken feet embroidery stitches (give or take a toe).

Chicken bottom

The Japanese always kick our crafting up a notch!

Marilyn pot holder

Made by my crafty friend Marilyn! Love the fabric with buttons printed on it.

So, pass the casseroles!

Never Too Late!


Patrick Fredericks, Sr. is the kind of neighbor who will be out in a blizzard, snow-blowing the sidewalks as far as three doors up the street—that would be up to and including my house. In the summer, he will greet you from the porch with Marianne, his wife of 53 years, and insist on giving a tour of their prolific yet compact garden plot tucked into this crazy-quilt neighborhood of old Beacon, on the mountain side of town.

Mr. Fredericks has lived his whole life in Beacon. He was born there in 1936, and in 1991 retired from the New York State Department of Corrections after 33 years of service. He started painting at the age of 69, when his wife gave him an acrylic paint set for Christmas in 2004.

“I found that I enjoyed the experience. I never painted before then.”

After Mr. Fredericks painted a dozen or so canvases, he asked if I would look at them, to offer him any advice, since he knew I was an illustrator and artist. When I entered the cozy living room, full of pictures and souvenirs and memories of a family life fully-lived, I wasn’t quite prepared for what jumped from his canvases.

Vibrant colors, abstract divisions of space, spare yet sophisticated compositions that yielded both the symbolic and the representational—the unique purity that comes from being self-taught was much evident. None of the umbrella terms for this style seemed to capture the work—primitive? Visionary? Outsider? Those labels are usually accompanied by bios of artists consumed by religious demons or confined by prison bars. Mr. Fredericks is all the more unusual for being a happily married man, a good neighbor, and a truly expressive artist.

My advice was simply to keep painting, and to contact the Howland Cultural Center. He now is included in the annual Artist Members Exhibit.

Meanwhile, he and Marianne have adopted a cockatiel named Max, who constantly vies for attention. I have a feeling that Max will be a future subject for the prolific artist. But he has to wait his turn. Next up is Derek Jeeter.

monarch dummy light horse flower geometric color teeth hammers V IMG_2124 IMG_2143

Artwork copyright Patrick Fredericks