Sewing hours for the week of 12/27

I’m looking forward to another week of sewing on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut– ALL THIS WEEK from 10-2, Monday through Friday.

Here’s some photos from my visit to Macdonough school earlier in December and a shot of some lovely volunteers who appeared last week.

Creative friends

We launched the first weekend of sewing on Main Street in Middletown and had so many amazing volunteers show up to contribute to sewing the sperm whale. It was a busy but exciting time!

Thanks to Elinore, Linda, Art, Dermot, Lucy, Amy, Daniel, Fiona, Theo, Veda, Amy, Paola, Buster, Lola, Mr. Maina, Maxson, Sandra, Annie, Steve, Monica, Margaret, Oliver, baby Julian, Rani, and Scott for contributing!

This week– drop in on Tuesday and Thursday from 10AM-2PM for more community sewing!

Whales on Main Street, Middletown!

The Minke Whale, completed by community members in CT and NY throughout the summer of 2021 is now on display at 428 Main Street in Middletown. Come see the minke whale and sew along on the 60-foot long sperm whale as a part of the Entangled and Ingested project.

Thursday, December 16th 10-2

Saturday, December 18th 10-2

Sunday, December 19th 10-2

(watch this space for more dates)

Minke whale

This is the amazing minke whale– hand sewn with members of community throughout the summer of 2021.

It’s one of 46 life-sized portraits of animals harmed by marine debris found in my series Entangled and Ingested. Most of the forty-six are hand sewn by me from the film plastic that pervades our lives and is difficult or impossible to recycle.

The three whales on the list are being sewn in collaboration with the community.

This is actually on the small size for the minke whale– the canvas is 18 feet long by 7 feet tall. A physically mature minke whale in the north Pacific would average about 25-26 feet and in the north Atlantic, about 26-27 feet.

Haddam Neck Fair

In New England (and lots of places, I’m sure) we have these seasonal fairs that come around. Our favorite has always been the Haddam Neck Fair. It’s small enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed but big enough to have fun rides, cool shows (like tractor pulls and dog trials), and lots of amazing food.

I was SO EXCITED to be asked by the fair management to bring my hand-sewn portraits of animals harmed by marine debris to the show this year. We were able to go last night and hang them up.

It’s so gratifying to finally see them up (this is only 15 of the 46 in the series that I’m working on). But to see the 15 foot long dusky shark hung for the first time is a real treat for me.

It makes me feel like all that hard work was worth it.

I’m hoping to use these to highlight how many film plastics we encounter on a daily basis– these are the plastics that are difficult or impossible to recycle where I live. And yet sometimes it feels everything is wrapped in them…

More from the Entangled and Ingested series

Sooty Tern, 29 x 26.5 inches
Stellar Sea Lion, 67.5 x 70 inches

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle, 33.5 x 38 inches

White faced storm petrel, 22.5 x 19 inches
Dusky Shark (not a great photo– it’s too big for my studio!) 15 feet 3 inches x 5 feet 2 inches

Throughout the summer, I have continued to create these portraits of animals harmed by plastic pollution. Each is hand sewn from film plastics– film plastics are impossible or difficult to recycle where I live.

I’ve completed 14 of the 46 species on my list (informed by the work of researcher David Laist, 1997).

Here are just a few more.

To really follow the progress of the project, check out my TikTok and Instagram.

Entangled and Ingested

Green Sea Turtle, at the Haddam Neck Congregational Church as a part of the Haddam Neck Quilt Show, 2021

Plastic pollution harms water quality, wildlife, ecosystems, and the economy. Animals are killed by entanglement (getting trapped in debris) and ingestion (consuming debris). Global markets produce over 350 millions of tons of plastic each year, much of it designed to be used once and thrown “away.”

This project creates to-scale images of 46 species harmed by entanglement and ingestion (Laist 1997). This is a small proportion of the total- the chapter names over 260 species while a later article found entanglement and/or ingestion for over 500 species (Kühn et al. 2015).

The images are created by hand-sewing difficult-to-recycle film plastics onto canvas. The work highlights the magnitude of the problem while reflecting on the kind of plastics we encounter in our everyday lives, tying us to their survival and them to our consumption.

All of these animals are being created TO SCALE– showing the actual size of the creatures impacted by plastic pollution

Want to see change? Tell your Congressional representatives to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2021

Atlantic Cod, 2021, 40.5 x 22 inches

Atlantic Puffin, 2021, 13 x 15 inches

Winter Flounder, 2021, 22.5 x 21.5 inches
Leach’s Storm Petrel, 2021, 13 x 15.25 inches
Laughing Gull, 2021, 26.5 x 22 inches
Greater Shearwater, 2021, 37.5 x 21.5 inches
Fairy Penguin, 2021, 17 x 17 inches
Green Sea Turtle, 2021, 60 x 62 inches

COVID project: Art and Science on Marine Debris

A friend asked me to share an assignment for young children to access freely during COVID that pulls together some of the elements of my teaching, research, and arts practice. Here goes!

Are you a teacher looking for an activity for students working from home during the COVID-19 global pandemic?

This activity can be completed remotely with items found in most homes.

After completing this activity, students should be able to:

  • Describe the way plastic waste threatens the health of global waterways {Knowledge: information gathering}
  • Discuss plastic waste and our own behavior. How do we use plastic? Can we avoid it? {Taking apart: analysis}
  • Create an image from plastic waste {Making use of knowledge: application}


Learning about Plastic Pollution

Ask your students to research plastic pollution around the world.

National Geographic has a lot of resources appropriate for kids:

The World’s Plastic Pollution Crisis Explained

Ten Shocking Facts about Plastic

Reflect of the problem of plastic by answering the following questions

  • How much plastic is there in the world?
  • How does plastic waste harm wildlife?
  • How do we dispose of plastic?
  • What kind of recycling for soft plastic (ex: chip bag, tortilla packaging, bread bag) is available in my community?
  • How can I reduce my plastic use?


Come together as a group to discuss or share answers to an online discussion.


Learning about Plastic Art

Visit the websites of artists who use plastic as a medium. There are hundreds of artists doing amazing work with and about plastic pollution—a few of my favorites are:


Our activity today is based on my work sewing soft plastics onto large canvases in the shapes of sea creatures


Octopus (96 x 59 inches, photo credit: John Groo)


Whale (75 x 61 inches, photo credit: John Groo)



Closeup, Whale (photo credit: John Groo)


Closeup, Octopus (photo credit: John Groo)


Look closely, do you recognize where some of these plastics came from?



Here’s a simple version of this project appropriate for younger students



  • Soft plastics
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper



  1. Collect soft plastics in a range of colors


  1. Draw an image on a piece of paper




  1. Cut soft plastic into small pieces


  1. Glue pieces onto your image





  1. Voilà!




More advanced students can…

  • sew plastics onto fabric with needle and thread
  • create more elaborate images
  • create larger images
  • create more meaningful images (i.e., of species, landscapes, or communities impacted by marine debris)
  • use this material the way you would tiles in a mosaic



Shout out to the amazing Shari Bergel for inspiring this!

Download a PDF of the activity here:

Plastic in the Ocean_Art and Science