Saturday, April 29, 2006

goodies in the real mail

This beautiful postcard from Vivika DeNegre arrived the other day to brighten my life. Vivika is the program chair of Shoreline Quilters, and makes the most exquisite pieces. I am lucky enough to have two of them in my postcard collection! She was doing a whole series of detailed bird cards when I was in Connecticut and I truly marvel at such work because I could never do it. Thanks, Vivika! Today, despite my horrid allergies - sneezing, itching, and general ickiness, we are going to the opening of SAQA's juried show at the Katonah, NY Art Center. Hopefully, with enough antihistamines and what my husband calls "war paint," I will feel and look less horrible than I do at this moment. I'm charging my camera batteries now and hope to post pictures of some sort. Not sure they will allow photos of the work - but I will take pix of the people, at the very least.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Art day in Philadelphia

Joanie & Rachel do Philadelphia

My friend Seema and I take one day a month to see an art exhibit. Today, Seema, Rachel, and I drove to Philadelphia to see the Fiber Biennial at Snyderman-Works and we met Joanie in the gallery. It was a huge outing for Joanie, who hasn't gotten out much lately. The show at Snyderman was wonderful -- but that was just the beginning of our fun day. After lunch, we walked around the Old Philadelphia neighborhood, which is peppered with galleries, shops, the wholesale restaurant supply district, and Betsy Ross' house. Just about everything we saw today was art. Look at the talent in this gallery window.

Then there was the street art. A doorway being restored. An old glass sidewalk grate whose gems shone pink and purple in the noonday sun.

Buildings being rehabbed.

Along the way I passed a sign on a door that said">"Plumber you are 1-1/2 hours late. Perhaps we should reschedule." Sounds like an understatement my father would have made. Perhaps, indeed. Or not.

This wonderful wall is a piece of sculpture. But apparently, not for long.

Around 2:00 Joanie headed for home and we headed for the wholesale restaurant supply store because I was looking for a big stockpot for steaming fabric. What a wonderland!

Plastic bread baskets. How festive! Seema said they reminded her of the restaurants in Mexico that have placemats hanging up outside as decorations. Well, you can't say the place is drab. i saw some items on this wall that I would have loved, but they were special order.

The man who owned the place -- well, they don't make 'em like that any more. Everything I asked the price of, he answered "one hundred dollars!" ha ha - jokester. I found a pot but the lid was extra. "Not everybody needs a lid." HUH? Well, I bought it anyway. With the lid. Extra. And then I needed something to put inside that I could use as a steaming thingie. I found a pot with holes all over it: all I have to do is find a way to remove the handle and it will fit inside the stockpot. Seema bought a frying pan and Rachel bought I don't -know-what, but she was busy snapping pictures. Here is Seema in the background, and me with Mr. $100 entertaining me as I paid. I grew up in a hardware store, so I loved it here. Still laughing, loaded down with pots and lids.

Finally time to go. It wasn't our last stop of the day, but it was the most fun.Everybody needs a day of such hilarity and nonsense at least once every six weeks or so. It was so much fun, it felt like a Friday!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

treats in my e-mail

Mid-afternoon is always the low point of my day (as it is for most people). I've been doing paperwork all day - so I was delighted to be perked-up by a couple of gorgeous pix that came floating into my mailbox! I asked the artist, Vicki Jensen, if I could post them on my blog. Here is one, followed by a detail. Yummy. I will be teaching my famous soy wax "Easy as Pie Batik" workshop at ProChem in Fall River, MA from July 21-23. Vicki is ProChem's dyer-teacher-technical expert extraordinaire. After a couple of tutorials by e-mail, she has been playing with the soy wax that we will be using -- and I have to admit I was blown away by these stunning examples! Here is one I wish I had done. So, if you want to spend 3 days playing, experimenting, and having a wonderful time discovering how easy it is to do batik with non-toxic vegetable-based wax that just floats down the drain, come and play with Vicki and me. This is the only time I'll be giving this workshop in the Northeast this year. Check http://www.prochemical.com for details. One more e-mail treat I forgot to mention: I received an e-mail saying that my piece, "Time and Again" which was the on the postcard for the SPUN:Small Art Quilts exhibit opening April 29, was awarded first place in the show. Gee, and I didn't even know they were giving out awards. I was very diligent doing paperwork all day. Tomorrow - a day off! I am going back to Philadelphia with a few friends and we're going to Snyderman-Works to see (again, for me) the fabulous fiber exhibit. Then, lunch. I won't even think about the $3/gal price it will cost me to drive the 180 mile round trip. OUCH.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

not again!

Around 6:00 tonight, when I went down to get something out of the fridge on the lower level, what was at my sliding glass door, but THE FLOCK, nosing around in the grass. By the time I grabbed my camera and opened the door, they were already a few feet away - but I got this picture through the screen. That vertical is the garden hose that goes to the upper deck, where there may ultimately be a few plants. After my visit to the dentist this morning, I went to Home Depot to pick up some things and ended up buying a few petunias and a nice big hanging lobelia for the front of the house -- plus a couple of cilantro plants, some rosemary, and some mint. This is the earliest I have been with herbs - but it is only a beginning. My favorite thing is to have them on the deck, open the kitchen door and snip them fresh all summer. I still need to buy dill, thyme, and good Greek oregano. Those and the basil, will have to wait a bit. It is still too cool for me to be in the mood to actually plant anything in the ground. Next door to Home Despot there is a wonderful Asian market, where I spent about an hour and came home with Chinese eggplant, cute little tender bok choy, ginger, bean sprouts, black soy sauce, black bean sauce, pea shoots, and my favorite dried black mushrooms and cloud ear mushrooms.

I made hot & sour soup, which I haven't done in years. And I dug out the wok and made a delicious stir fry with fish. Gee, I actually cooked tonight. I also bought some seaweed, a jar of kimchee, pickled ginger, soba noodles, and a few other random items. Would have bought out the store if I had known what to do with all of those interesting things.

I am sewing a sleeve on a quilt and I think I will go to bed early. Turned in last night at 8:30 - all this sneezing from whatever is growing out there is simply wearing me out. Oh, no, I just realized it could be the TURKEYS! I happen to be allergic to feathers.

Monday, April 24, 2006

gobble gobble

The view from my studio window this morning. I head loud barking - uh - gobbling - and couldn't grab my camera fast enough to shoot (I only wish) them as they marched down the street in front of my house. Above, as they wallked into the parking area across the street.
Next stop, heading for my neighbor's lawn. There is a sixth one over to the left that you can't see.Looking for worms? Who knows? Yeccch - disgusting creatures who shortly after this, turned tail and headed off into somebody else's backyard.
Cheesh - you might mistake this for the middle of nowhere instead of the most densely populated county in the most densely populated state in the U.S.

Friday, April 21, 2006

postcards

Yesterday's postcard workshop at Gilda's Club was great, although the turnout was smaller than expected because several of the women who had signed up did not feel well enough to come. Most of them are cancer survivors but because Gilda's Club also provides a haven and support for families, one woman who was in the class has a daughter who had a rare type of cancer but who is doing fine after a stem cell transplant. Let's hear it for stem cell research!!!! I brought fabric and trimmings from home, as well as irons, cutting mats, rotary cutters, and Misty-fuse. It was the first time I had used it and it worked very nicely. We even used it to fuse rickrack! I also brought one sewing machine, which a couple of the women had a chance to use. Most of them were planning to finish their cards at home. I was so busy with my demo and with helping them fuse that I didn't remember to take a lot of pictures. But here are two of them.

All in all, a very rewarding experience for me and a happy one for the women in the group. They were very enthusiastic about the postcards and one woman even suggested that these would make great bookmarks if you sliced them the long way into thirds. Hmmm... what a nifty little gift idea.

I spent the rest of yesterday with a kitchen cabinet guy, who was trying to prevent me from fainting dead away at the nightmare cost of a dream kitchen. So, I shall keep dreaming for the time being. But I might get a new stove - LOL.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

out the door

On my way to teach a workshop. Still no e-mail. Still grouchy. But the day should bring good things, so I'll take pix and check back tonight. Watch this space.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I am grouchy

And why, you may ask, am I grouchy?? (not that I need a reason). No e-mail. None. Except the spam, of course, which gets through because it is addressed to a different address. All of the e-mails since yesterday (4/17) have vaporized, never to be seen again. So if you have sent me an e-mail in the last day or so, please send it again. Today, Rachel Cochran and I drove down to visit Joanie SanChirico and play catch-up with show and tell and yakking. Joanie has just finished a fabulous new piece - well, almost finished - and we were the first to see it. Rachel brought along several she has finished, not the least of which was this little gem. Then, take a look at the closeup below of the center. Rachel is a wizard with beads and her work just glows. I am putting sleeves on a few pieces but don't have time to start anything new at the moment. Especially since it is bed time for me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

procrastinating again

I just threaded a needle to sew a sleeve on a piece I have finished. You see how eager I am to do this chore. So here I am. Debra Roby was complaining about not having brilliant things to post: I know what you mean, Debra - although I don't agree about your blog. I think you've always got something fun on there. Nonetheless - we all go through these periods. The question is: do I post something inane or nothing at all? Mostly, I opt for the latter. But sometimes ya just feel like blathering on, whether anybody wants to read it at all. SO - I am going to blather about the kitchen - although I am having a hard time making this art-related. I forgive you if you skip the rest of this post. Yesterday was summer weather and oh, my, it was wonderful. Today - back to cool weather - a disappointment to me but I'll take it. I spent a good part of the day organizing my materials for Thursday's fabric postcard workshop at Gilda's Place. It's one thing to MAKE a postcard -- quite another to pay attention to the sequence and details so you can teach other people to do it. Do step 1, write it down - and be sure to write down the things you take for granted because you are teaching to people who may never have done anything fabric-related. I had to make a sample postcard out of commercial fabrics because that's what we will be using.

Gilda's-sample

On another subejct... yesterday, my husband finished our taxes and took them to the post office. Hooray! Can we put the refund toward a new kitchen? Uh - sorry, it's going toward his dental work and a new roof - it might might pay for one tooth and a roof tile or two. BUT I NEED A STOVE!! (actually, they call them ranges these days). The clock/timer thingie is broken. They don't make the part any more. The self-cleaning oven doesn't work without the clock/timer thingie. I am allergic to the oven-cleaning chemicals. The paint is chipped and it looks entirely disgusting. Paint from the original knobs is worn off, so you don't know whether the stove is off or on. The temperature numbers on the oven knob are gone so you don't know what temp you are baking at. This is not a problem, since I have stopped using the bottom oven. The problem is that I can't just replace the damn thing. It's a double oven range of the type they don't make any more. Without going into construction details, suffice it to say that I either keep this horrible appliance that came with the condo or we redo the whole kitchen. For reasons too complicated to go into here, believe me - those are the choices. I am buying lottery tickets tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 14, 2006

name that piece! - part I

Carol Ludington, of the Shoreline Quilters Guild in Branford, CT., sent me this picture of a finished quilt she started last weekend in my Jump-starting Your Next Quilt workshop. She can't decide on a name and asked me which one of two I liked better. Since I liked both, I couldn't decide either. When I asked for permission to post the piece to my blog, she thought it would be a great opportunity to ask for name submissions from all the creative minds out there. I loved the idea!! - So -- take a look and either comment or e-mail me with what pops into your head for a title. I'll post the suggestions on Monday night and we'll see what Carol thinks. In the meantime, many of us are celebrating either Passover or Easter, so I hope you have a good holiday weekend. In either case, we will all have eaten too much, no doubt.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Museum Monday

This morning, I loaded up my suitcase with fabric and screens and stuff and headed to the museum to meet Judy Langille, Diane Savona, and Rachel Cochran for a play day. Or a work day, however you chooose to look at it. We had all been at the Sedgwick opening (Judy won the Surface Deisgn award) and discussed the event and the art as we worked. By 2:00, I was toast and packed up, heading for Whole Foods where I managed to ring up a three figure bill in no time flat. 20% of it was for Scharffenberger 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate -- seriously the best chocolate I have found to cook and bake with. And to eat. I tried a different brand that was half the price, and it was good. But it was not extraordinary. And I just hope that the fact of Scharffenberger's being bought by Hershey's will not kill it. I have my doubts.

Fast forward to tonight. My downstairs (print) studio is back to its normal condition. This is not news. The news is that I am able to accomplish anything at all in this mess. You can see that I have been screening over some fabric I had batik'd and discharged.

Here's a piece in the closet on the drying rack, which started out very orderly but didn't suit me, so I added another layer or two. God knows what it will look like tomorrow, after I steam and rinse it. And finally, in a complete departure, this piece below. I don't remember what it looked like before except I hated it. I had batik'd it and then I overdyed it. Today I discharged on it - a first layer. Now I have to think about what else I want to do with this fabric. But I will think about it tomorrow.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

the Philadelphia story

Friday morning, Marty and I headed down for the weekend to attend the opening of Art Quilts at the Sedgwick. This is the Ben Franklin Bridge, the gridwork of which I could not resist shooting and which will undoubtedly turn up somewhere in my work. I didn't have a piece in this year's show but several of my good friends had pieces juried in: Diane Savona, Judy Langille, Judith Plotner, and Jette Clover, so we went to celebrate with them. Anyway, it is always such a fabulous weekend for textiles in Phila that we go no matter what. Weather on Fri wasn't promising but it ended up being a perfect day for walking - mild and sunny. Not so for Sat, which was COLD (I was wearing 5 layers, including my ski jacket) raw, and pouring rain. No matter. We had a great time. Friday afternoon we headed straight for the Snyderman-Works Gallery for the Fifth Biennial Fiber Exhibit. An eclectic show of fiber pieces to-die-for, and I mean to get back there before the exhibit ends on April 29. I think it is the strongest fiber show Snyderman-Works has had to date. I did not like everything -- but all of it was stimulating. Go if you can. It was great because I saw some people I knew and met some I had not previously run into but had wanted to meet among the members of Friends of Fiber Art as well as Art Quilt Network New York who were there. At the Sedgwick opening, Friday night (henceforth called Art Quilts Philadelphia because it will remain in center city). I finally met Lisa Call and Pam Rubert, both of whom had work in the show. It was so hectic and crowded that we hardly had time to chat, but it was great to see them. And of course, I kept running into my friend Mary Manahan, which is always a treat. Mary wasn't so crazy about the exhibit at the Snyderman and I can certainly understand that, since there were some rather strange pieces and everything from gut to wire. Fiber at Snyderman-Works is defined very broadly. I didn't like everything but there were a couple of pieces I would gladly have acquired if I had won last week's lottery. Here are just a few links to the artists I thought did especially interesting work. There were many more. Yvonne Bobrowicz Barbara Lee Smith Dorothy Caldwell Mary Merkel-Hess Shizuko Kimura Rebecca Medel Meantime, back at the Sedgwick opening and the next day at the brunch, I was so busy yakking that as usual, I forgot to take a lot of pictures. But here are the few I did take. I might note that everybody looked about ten times better than my photography makes them look. But, oh well.

Lisa Call, Pat Autenrieth, Pam Rubert

Valerie Goodwin & Sandra Woock

and in a moment of pure, spontaneous joy --

Corni Forster and Jette Clover

My high-living and late nights for the weekend have caught up with me and I'll try to finish up my report tomorrow night

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Imagine my delight

when the postcards for the SPUN exhibit came today and my own piece was staring back at me from the front of the card. I have quite a few to get out in the mail but I hope that if you're within driving distance of Katonah, NY (Westchester County) you'll come to the Art Center and say hello. It promises to be a beautiful exhibit -- and you have a few weeks to plan who you are carpooling with - LOL. I think Katonah is a charming town and we are making a day of it. Artists include such luminaries as Linda Colsh, Karen Stiehl Osborn, Melissa Fowler, Rachel Cochran, Elizabeth Poole, and more. All the works are small and it's a great chance to add one to your collection. In the meantime, I am about to take my hands out of the dyepot and go do something useful, like pack for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

judging a book...or two

This morning I had to go to my mother's apartment (no, that is not it on the left) to let in the maintenance man, who was changing the air conditioning filters. He wears the brown pants and beige shirt with the name of the condo written in red on his pocket. I don't know his name. He has worked his way through all the rooms and is in the bedroom. I am in the hallway, looking at the art on the walls: a Miro, a Konrad, two lithographs by Raphael Soyer, and some other pieces I always see but never really study. He comes out of the bedroom and says "oh, you like paintings." "Yes," I say. "I love art." "Me too," says he. "Let me show you which one I really love." I follow him into the spare room where he goes to the corner and points to a watercolor of the Kreuger Mansion in Newark, NJ painted by my grandfather. ( At left is a recent photo, not grandpa's artwork, which was painted 50 years ago, before the building had been vandalized. Then, Jose (as I later discover is his name) tells me he is an artist who works in oils and he whips out his cell phone and opens it to show me a painting which looks pretty good. He tells me he has sent the painting to his cousin in Puerto Rico so that his cousin will have something to remember him by after he is dead. I do not mention that I am an artist. This is HIS moment. But you can never assume. You can never tell by looking at someone or surmising from the way he/she earns a living, what creative process and talent is going on to enrich his/her life. And I realize that for 13 years, he has been looking at the art on my mother's walls every time he comes in to fix something. I want to cry. Which brings me to Ted Orland's book, The View from the Studio Door, which I was reading at my mother's before I wandered into the hall to look at the art. There is SO MUCH in that book that I can't begin right now to discuss it - but I have decided that I should have married this author. Of course, he didn't ask me - but that is irrelevant. Has anybody else read it yet so that we can have a conversation?

It's not that I don't have work to do...

I just don't feel like doing it. Brain wants to move, body doesn't. So, time for some caffeine. BTW - the darker the roast, the less caffeine it has. Did you know that?
You Are an Espresso
At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping Your caffeine addiction level: high
I'll be back after coffee break.

huh?

What is this white stuff? and what is it doing in my yard?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tuesday and home

Back to my messy studio, which is the same disaster area it was on Saturday when I left. Did I actually expect that the good fairies would arrive and sprinkle magic cleanup dust around while I was gone? Yep. Just like I hope that the next time I open the fridge that something wonderful to eat will be there that was not there 5 minutes earlier. Just as I was feeling the letdown of being home, Diane Wright's e-mail with jpg arrived to cheer me up. (Diane and Vivika DeNegre are the program co-chairs for Shoreline Guild and they are both dynamos). By the time I had arrived home this afternoon, Diane had totally finished a piece incorporating some of the wonderful fabric she had block printed with trees she carved on Sunday. I wish I had carved that block. It's called "Whistling Past the Graveyard" and it is 23"x30". Diane, you're a whiz kid!

This morning, before I left Guilford, we went over to see the Guilford Art Center. What a place! There was an exhibit of the most amazing puppets you have ever seen - some very dark and bizarre, others very clever and funy. If you live within an hour of Guilford, CT, it is worth a drive to see the exhibit, Art in Motion -- and to visit their shop which has the most elegant and beautiful crafts I have seen gathered in one place. Click on the link and you'll get to their virtual galleries. Yum.

Well, I just unearthed my April/May issue of FiberArts magazine, which was so buried that I did not think I had received it. I had better go read it before I lose it again. I can clean up tomorrow...

Connecticut day 2

Monday was the second of two workshops. Gayle, our class superstar, came in on Monday with a completed quilt from the fabric she had printed on Sunday. Amazing!!! On Sunday we had carved our own stamps. Most of the people in the workshop had done stamping but had never made their own, and they loved it. They brought back their printed fabric and on Monday, combined it with pieces from their own (or somebody else's) stash as we did a variety of challenging creativity exercises and small studies. I had also brought a bunch of Helene's hand-dyed strips to share with the class and boy, did those get used!! For the last exercise of the day, I cut up half of that piece of fabric and distributed it to the people in the workshop to see what they would do with it within 30 minutes. As usual, I was blown away with all the different ways people used one piece of fabric. These are not finished pieces, of course. But you'll get the idea. Click on them for larger images. Monday night was my guild lecture/trunk show and after a long, rewarding day, I slept very well. I suspect that everybody else did, too.