I Can See for Miles and Miles

ME-BN14 with logo

Shown is the official Mary Engelbreit Studios, Inc. 40th Anniversary Design. All ME vendors have been asked to create products with it. Our version,  #ME-BN14, “Journey of 1000 Miles” is on 18m, has an image size of 12″x 10″ and will be available to ship around May 1st.

I’m often asked about Painted Pony’s journey – how we got started and the like. We were born in the summer of 1989. My husband and I had moved to the Texas Gulf Coast region after spending our early marriage years in Austin, where I had worked part time at The Needle Works, while I dabbled in arts and crafts (I have a graphics arts degree, so it was legit dabbling!) Because I did custom work for the shop, the owners asked me if I would come up with a few new pieces for a Christmas in July event. After designing some mini-socks and coyotes, I needed to come up with a name. I really had no ambitions as to starting a business and figured what little money I made would go to my “horse” fund. The name Painted Pony was born because I was literally “painting for a pony”.

I traveled up to Austin with copies of about a dozen designs in hand and sold everything in one afternoon (less two coyotes, I think). I continued to fill orders for the store and one day decided to spread my wings, and, while meeting my sister-in-law for lunch in Houston, I stopped by the Needle House to drop off my card. The former owner, Susan, wasn’t there, so I left my card, asked directions to a popular German deli lunch spot close to the store, and went on my way. Here’s where it gets interesting: my SIL and I were ordering lunch, when a lady comes up to my table and asks me if I am Debbie of Painted Pony. OK, that’s weird. But it wasn’t! Susan had made it back to her store, saw my card, grabbed her purse and hunted me down to the German deli. She had been trying to find me for months because her customers kept bringing my canvases into her shop after their trips to Austin. Talk about an ego-trip!

So, the journey really began to map itself out. In February, I traveled to a regional show in Texas, where I sold so much, I felt like THE most popular girl in the room. (who doesn’t love that?! (By the way, this is where I met Kathy Wallace, who’s line, Needle Graphics, we distribute today). After discussing my sales tally with my Austin shop, the partners told me they had never heard of a first-timer doing that well! From that time on, our journey has been at full gallop!

This post is getting long, so I will save telling you about buying my horse for another day.

 *         *         *

Mary Engelbreit Studios, Inc is celebrating their 40th year and we are celebrating our second year of this journey as her licensed vendor for hand-painted needlepoint. What a trip it has been! Our stitches were so excited to see her designs on canvas again and we have been busy, busy, busy since we signed our agreement with her in May of 2015. We have built the canvas line to 130+ canvases and even have a Mary Engelbreit Trunk Show that ships out once a month. Here’s our ME schedule for the rest of 2017:

  • April – Chandail/Houston, TX
  • June – AVAILABLE – have your LNS call to grab the date!
  • July – Fiddlesticks/Hawaii
  • August – Expressions in NArt/Condadaigua, NY
  • September – Stitch Boutique/Boston, MA
  • October – Needlepoint Clubhouse/St. Louis, MO
  • November – tentatively in Ohio
  • December – Needle Nook of La Jolla/La Jolla, CA





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

She Looks Like an Angel…


We are back from market! Keep checking on us and our Facebook page for market photos. The day of set-up, my phone died and John, on the first day of market, instead of spending time helping me in the booth, was at Verizon trying to get my phone fixed and, later that day, picking out a new phone for me. I don’t have the cord I need to upload my booth pics from the cell to the computer, so I have a good excuse to invite you back to my blog and Facebook pages for “booth tour” pics later this week!

I thought I would write about this cool finishing idea that we discovered at San Francisco’s Luv2Stitch Needlepoint shop, owned by former TNNA president Dale Lency. Back in September, my daugher, Christina,  discovered this finishing idea on Pinterest, when she was searching the web for pics of our customers’ finished PPDs (yes, we “troll” y’all!). We immediately sent three of our unfinished models (stitched by my Austin friend, Susan Burris) to Dale’s. His finisher not only puts our angels on stands but she embellishes the pieces with little trinkets she finds at the base. Go to Luv2Stitch’s finisher’s Pinterest page (Debbie Castro “It’s Done”) to see more versions of angels on sticks. The Over the Rooftop angel has Putz houses on its base, the Pony Print angel sports western embellishments and the Witchy Woman angel has a pumpkin threaded on its stick. Compared to the Easter angel, finished maybe ten years ago, why go with a plain base when you can go crazy!

Thanks to Dale for delivering these to me at the show!

Now, I’m off to buy a new cord for my cell phone so I can load those booth photos!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pride and Prejudice

Heading to market in two days! Still painting. Still printing. Still packing. We (my daughter, Christina, and I) get to California late on Thursday. We’ll grab a really late dinner, an even earlier breakfast and head to the convention center by 8:00 am to start setting up our – count ’em – six booths. It will take all day and we usually don’t leave until the after-setup security guard passes by our booth a couple of times. Then we eat another really late dinner and crash in our beds, only to head back to the convention center at 8:00 am the next morning to finish all the last minute fluffing and straightening before your shop owners start showing up at 10:00. I’ll try to blog a couple of times once the market opens and show you some pics of the happenings around the show and in our booth. Be sure to follow up on my Facebook page – I will post a new chapter of our Booth Walls series, pointing out what’s new for January.


I wanted to give my readers a “Sneak Peek” about a new Petei series that will be unveiled at the show. Normally, I wait until after the show to start posting pics, but this one is just to good to not let you in on it! Petei has developed a new series based on Jane Austen’s greatest-chick novel of all time: Pride & Predudice. I AM IN LOVE with this new set of canvases. We are bringing the first twelve characters to the show: Lizzie, Mr. Darcy, Jane, Mr. Bingley, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Mr. Wickhem, Mr. & Mrs. Bennett, Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Because I have so much “Pride” introducing this series, I asked my friend, Susan Burris, to develop stitch guides for Lizzie & Mr. D.  We will have 20 Lizzie Bennett & Mr. Darcy canvases with stitch guides kitted and available for sale at the show. I’m not “Prejudice”d or anything, but I think this new series from Petei is going to be a hot item. If you want to be one of the first P&P lovers to stitch this series, ask your LNS to stop in our booth this weekend and pick up the Liz & Darcy two-canvas pack.


*I am more of a Spy/Political Thriller and Harry Potter/LOTR Fantasy kind of reader, but Jane Austen is my one go-to in the Romantic Drama department. I simply adore her characters and I read P&P and Sense & Sensibility every couple of years. The writing is brilliant – the last edition I bought, I underlined all the great quotes in the book! My daughter is also a huge JA fan. We’ll take it anyway it comes – books, movies, TV mini-series and, of course, in needlepoint!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Winter is Coming

Dreaded words if you insert the word “Market” between the “Winter” and the “is”.Getting ready for a show is just plain torture. I dread every bit of it – the late nights designing those very last angels, the physical aches from packing my booth for the trucking company to fetch (only to have them call on D-day, after I stayed up till 5:30am getting the last of it together, just to hear them say they aren’t coming until tomorrow – grrrr), the invasion of my art space by additional workers trying to get the show stock all together, the xerox machine that is always breaking down or running out of toner), the search for missing masters that we don’t know how or why they escaped from the market boxes from the last show we were at, the lack of sleep, not knowing that Madame Secretary was back on, the messy house, the fact that I still have my entire home decorated for Christmas (because honestly, what day was I going to set aside to take care of that)! I consider the week of getting ready for a show as my personal punishment for pursuing the American dream (i.e.; owning my own business). Why do I do this to myself? I do it because after this week, something happy is coming.


Market will have finally arrived – I will see  my needle buddies, we’ll catch up, we’ll go out to eat, I’ll visit with our shop owners and show off our new pretties, I will autograph an occasional canvas (true!) , I’ll spend half a day solving the world’s problems in my friend’s booth, my daughter is flying in to help us, someone makes my bed and leaves fresh towels while I’m at work (really love that!), I’ll get inspired to create new ideas and work on new projects, and, I even get to needlepoint in the down times!

So, you could say, I’ve got my eye on the Spring of Accomplishment that follows the Winter of My Discontent.


Speaking of Spring: when I opened a package and found this absolutely gorgeous stitched piece in it, it was like a spring breeze flitted into the studio yesterday. It looks like how I’m going to feel after the trucking company shows up and takes my booth away! Birds will be singing, flowers will be blooming and everything will feel fresh and new. Spring will soon be here!

Design note: the featured design is Diane Ulmer Pedersen’s Topiary Birds (#DP-FL08) and was stitched by my friend Kathy Kulesza of Austin, TX. We will have a stitch guide available later this spring.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After Midnight

pp-996iv-crazy-quiltNote – Here’s a sneak peek of one of the angels premiering at the TNNA show in three weeks. She’s not quite finished and I haven’t picked the charms for her yet, but you get the idea!

If you are a needlepoint designer, than New Year’s weekend is not spent holding flutes of champagne while dancing to midnight at some swanky party, but rather with a bowl of dirty paint water, sitting at our art tables while we burn the midnight oil as we get ready for our January Winter Market. For me, getting designs done for the show is even worse than that: I am such a last minute/under the gun type of designer that I have (for real) painted a new canvas in the front seat of our SUV as my husband drives me to the show. I’ve always been this way – when I was an art student in college, it was nothing for me to do my semester project the night before the deadline. It is not that I’m lazy – it’s that I need that panicked, frantic adrenaline rush to pop out my best work. If I started that semester project back when it was first assigned, I would spend 12 weeks “tweeking it” until it was overworked and making a Baroque church from medieval days look undecorated. My best work comes when the chips are down and I have to slap something out and there is no time to rethink about it. It is a stressful way to design, but so it goes. This go-round, I actually have given myself a couple of weeks earlier start, but the panic is still there as I’ve got several pieces that need to go to my Texas-based painters, Dana and Dian, so that they can make panic-painted copies and send one each on to my model stitcher, Susan Burris (of Austin, TX) to frantically work up stitch guides for, all to sell in pre-packed kits for the cash & carry component of the Winter Market. My next few blogs will be about all the new pieces we are working on to premier at the upcoming show. See you back here when the clock strikes 12:00!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Back to Blogging

I haven’t posted in SIX YEARS. I couldn’t remember my password, my user name or even the blog hosting site, thus I’ve been dormant all this time! Today, my daughter sent me a link to her blog and “low and behold”, I was forced to log into my site, which meant that this is where my site has been hiding all this time! I’ve written the log-in info down (so no more losing my blog again!) and now I’m officially “Back to Blogging!” So, what will I be blogging about in future posts? All things Painted Pony! Since I was last on, I have changed the company’s direction to include 13 artists that I now represent & distribute for. Here’s a list:

Needlepoint Companies include Designs by Petei; Needle Graphics; Betsy B. Originals; and sorority/fraternity pieces by …& more, and Funda Scully; and, of course, my personal handpainted line, Painted Pony.

Fine/Galleried Artists (these are designers who we have licensed their work to be produced as hand-painted needlepoint): Mary Engelbreit, Inc; Diane Ulmer Pedersen, Lynne Andrews, Two Bananas, Mary Charles (premiering at the January 2017 show) and two more designers premiering in the spring: Diane Kater and Sally Swannell.

Future blog posts will include “works in progress” (follow me as we design new canvases), original artwork from our licensees that will show you what will be developed into handpainted canvas, models being stitched, completed and finished, our road trips to market, shop visits, features of who is teaching our designs, features of stitchers doing remarkable interpretations of our designs, and the like.

I hope you’ll follow me down the trail of all things “Painted Pony”

To start off the re-boot, I’ve posted a picture of a canvas we will be premiering at the TNNA winter market next month (Just Say Cheese #MC-AN01, 10″x12″ on 18m).capture. Its by Our new licensed artist, Mary Charles, comes from Lancaster, PA. Mary’s paintings are influenced by the Amish and the “English” of the quaint country community she lives in. Her subjects include barns, villages and farm animals. Her colors are clear and her original works translate beautifully into needlepoint. To see her first 16 canvases during December, visit Rittenhouse Needlepoint in Philly, PA. The shop is currently test-marketing 16 Mary Charles canvases as part of a larger trunk show that includes all of the designs of Diane Ulmer Pedersen, Lynne Andrews, plus a hand-full of the artsy side of Mary Engelbreit.

While you are driving madly to Rittenhouse to check out the new Mary Charles line, I’m going to muse over more content for my next blogging post. I’m glad to be “Back” and I hope I see you “Back” here real soon!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Santa and His Sleigh Visit Austin

I don’t usually send my models anywhere but to market because of the wear and tear on them, but since The Needle Works’ new location in Austin is within walking distance of my daughter’s apartment, I’ve sent them to Colleen’s store, where they will be displayed on her fireplace mantel. I haven’t been to the new shop yet, but I’ve heard it is really nice. For those who don’t know, The Needle Works is where I got my start in the needlpoint world way back in the eighties! My first experience with them was when the owners (one of them is now the designer/owner of the handpainted line A Collection of Design) asked me to design their logo – it’s the basket full of needlework goodies that the shop still uses today. Later, I worked part-time in the store and also served as the store’s custom painter. My first design was a golf picture frame that is still in my line today (#800PI). Anyway, the Sleigh & Reindeer set will be there until the end of March.

Santa and Sleigh set from Painted Pony Designs

Since we had the reindeer set re-finished last spring, there has been a big jump in interest for the pieces. The set includes Santa and nine reindeer, inluding Rudolph. Each reindeer is themed as close to his name as we could get. My model stitcher, Susan Burris, also of Austin, has created stitch guides for each piece. Currently, Quenn Anne’s Stitches in Santa Clarita is teaching classes on the piece, so if you’re in their area of California, stop by their shop to see the models they’ve been workin on. And, of course you can order the pieces via your Local Needlework Retailer. To see the individually painted canvase, go to my web-site: www.paintedponyneedlepoint.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment