Friday, September 29, 2006

AARRGGGHH

We've been without power since a transformer went out in the neighborhood yesterday afternoon. I'm in a wireless Internet cafe right now but have been unable to send/receive/print at home and I am frantic. Trying to pack boxes to ship out for workshops -- working in the dark -- and getting a different story from everyone at PSE&G whom I speak with. All my neighbors are back up - and we have one outlet in the house that works! I guess I can throw out the refrigerator's and freezer's contents... Am about to buy takeout lunch so I don't have to open the fridge. Life is such an adventure.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I forgot to tell you

that I discovered, thanks to my clever students in the wild west, that these items make great rubbings. Despite the label that says "livestock marker," each one of these is nothing more than an oilstick in disguise. If you live in cattle country, you probably already know that you can buy these in livestock or animal or farm supply stores. NOT that we have a lot of these in NJ - but I brought home a few to keep me busy. The silver and copper ones are the best. I used the silver one to do a rubbing on the rather bland piece I had gelatin-printed last week. It's an improvement, but I think it needs a touch of black to zip it up a bit. Perhaps I'll play a little when I get off the computer.

I've been very grouchy since I got home from the mountains and I believe it is because I have been doing endless paperwork and tending to business since I've been here. It dawned on me today that I desperately need to do some creative work -- so I threw some fabric into a dyepot and hoped for the best. As usual, it is far from the best (pictures after I wash the fabric) -- but it will be fine after I add some layers.

Finally unpacked and am waiting for my box of teaching supplies to come back tomorrow so I can empty the carton and put the stuff into the suitcase. I also spent part of today cleaning up the studio so I could walk in without stubbing my toe on cartons of stuff. Ouch! But somehow, I manage to have lost my 256k compact flash card. I bought a 1 gig to supplement it, but now whatever was on there is gone - unless it turns up.

The kitchen sink is leaking and we are having puddles on the floor, so can't use the faucets or dishwasher. Swell. We're eating on paper and plastic and I just hope the plumber calls me back tomorrow.

In the meantime, I stopped at the farm to buy vegetables and bought a few mums, asters, and other things to brighten the fading garden. Of course, now I will have to wsh the lettuce in the powder room sink...a not very appetizing prospect. I think we'll skip the salad for the time being. Happy Autumn to all, and a Happy, Healthy New Year to some of you.

Friday, September 22, 2006

the paving of Colorado

This used to be a farm. It is now some bare land separating condos (in rear) from the LaQuinta hotel and parking lot. This wonderful old farm machinery (whatever it is) is a feeble attempt to be cute, but it just looks sad and incongruous next to the cars and macadam. I am back in NJ, frantically cooking for the start of Rosh Hashanah and a house full of family for dinner. I made a noodle kugel yesterday: good ingredients, but somehow it didn't come out as well as last year's. With all this travel, I've lost my touch in the kitchen. Egg noodles, apples, raisins (soaked in bourbon - I'm out of rum), eggs, sugar, cinnamon...should be good, but isn't. Or maybe it's me. Everybody in Colorado that I met has just lost 30 lbs, so I figure if they can do it, so can I...starting two days ago. South Beach Diet - but enough about THAT. Just taking a minute to post before I order supplies to be shipped to the John C. Campbell Folk School for my workshop in October. There is only one space left in the class, so if you are coming and have a friend who wants to come and play - act FAST! Sorry to have been away from this space for so long, but I've been so busy in the last two days catching up with business e-mails and chores that I haven't even had time to pay bills, let alone post. Thinking of all of you, though. I promise to post during the 2 weeks I am here -- even if I have to make something up - LOL

Sunday, September 17, 2006

80301

Couldn't have had a better day than Saturday! Judith Trager, who lives in Boulder, kindly took me in hand for the day and it was, for me, pure happiness to see my beloved Flatirons. It was a morning of visual pleasure: first, Judith's work and then we stopped tp see Carol Watkins, so I got to visit with her art, too. Double treat. Judith and I then went to Pearl St, had lunch at her favorite Asian restaurant, stopped at Chico's (where once again, did not find anything) and then went to a preview of the exhibit that takes place in conjunction with Boulder's Open Studios. Alas, I will be gone before the event, which is in October. But if you live within driving distance, you should make it a point to go. On the way back to Judith's, we stopped at 3250 O'Neal Circle so I could take pictures of where I lived in a furnished apartment with two toddlers and their father in 1970-71. The place still looks the same, except that end of 30th St. was unpaved back then, there were prarie dogs living in the complex, and there was no fence around the swimming pool. Judith said she wished she had gotten a picture of the expression on my face when I was walking around taking pictures.

Good grief, I am SUCH a sap when it comes to memory and the past.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

up for air

Can it already be Saturday? I haven't had a minute to blog since early this week but am determined to catch up as much as I can tonight. What a week! I hate trying to recap after so much time has gone by, but I'll do the best I can. I already told you what a fun and talented group this was. Days 3-4, after having printed lots of fabric, we worked on what to do with it. One of the challenges was to work relatively small, using fabric we'd made during the previous days, combined with others if we wished, to begin new work. Two of the participants used this photo I'd taken in Belgium to jump-start new work. The results were stunning -- and totally different from one another. Each captures the essence of the picture and each artist is speaking in her own voice. Here is Liz Kettle with her interpretation.

And below, Lili Christensen with hers.

Sheryll Robbins with her small piece.Below, Franchi Rosenfeld's piece.

Wish I had room for more, or that all my photos had come out well (they never do) - but you get the picture (ouch!). By now, it is Sunday morning (I was too tired to finish this yesterday) but after breakfast, onto the next adventure.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

multitasking

Good morning from Fort Collins. I'm at breakfast, trying to get some pix up before I run off to teach day two of the workshop. The workshop is at Fort Collins' Lincoln Center, which is a beautiful facility with theatre, galleries, and other cultural things. Here is an idea of the gardens surrounding the building.
Yesterday was such fun -- and what a wonderful, talented group of artists they are. Today we are doing gelatin printing -- but yesterday, the class screened, stamped, rubbed, and syringed to their hearts' content. Here is Elaine, working away. Here are some of the goodies that were drying as we left yesterday. Like being in a candy store!

Time to go to class. More, later.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Q&A and Denver

The other day, Liz Plummer asked a question about the fabric I had dyed and overprinted with thickened dyes. "is this the same fabric that you are overprinting each time? (ie. are you adding more dye on top of the one in each previous photo or is it a separate piece of cloth each time?). Either way, the results are stunning!" (thanks, Liz!) I answered her privately but thought someone else might want to know the answer. I tore the offending blobbed fabric into several pieces and each piece you see was done separately, in succession, with the same screen. I did not add more dye; what was in the screen came out a bit more each time. With the first two, I used print paste and with the second two pieces, I used Thiox paste on the screen to get the results. On another note...I arrived at Denver airport late yesterday afternoon. This is the view from the car on the way to Fort Collins.

Need I say more?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

a bundle in the mail

I really have no business sitting here and blogging: I should be finishing my packing, since tomorrow I am leaving for Denver to do a 4 day workshop for Front Range Contemporary Quilters. Two days of printing and two days of Jump-starting the Art Quilt, using some of the fabric we will be printing. I'm excited because Front Range has so many talented artists as members. I'm delighted that I'll be back in Denver, where I haven't been in a decade; and even happier that I'll get to take a day trip to Boulder: a town that still had dirt roads when I lived there in 1970-71. Given my druthers, I would never have come back to New Jersey. I was very happy in Boulder. I have to take a picture of 3250 O'Neal Circle, where we lived in a furnished apartment when my first two kids were 1-1/2 and 3-1/2. The apartment had a garbage disposal! What luxury! Nobody in NJ had garbage disposals back then, but the first thing I did when we came home was to put one in. Couldn't live without it. Still can't. BUT I DIGRESS... what came in the mail?

Sonji's Bundle Study #62 which I bought as soon as I saw it at Ayers Loft in Lowell last month. It is already on my studio art wall, brightening up the place. I can see that one of these days it will be time to redo the wall and reorganize my collection. On that wall, in addition to my own work and now, Sonji Hunt's,are pieces by Nikki Bonnett, Linda Colsh, Claire Fenton, Helene Davis, Laura Cater-Woods, Marlene Cohen, and Jette Clover. Karen Stiehl Osborne is in a different room...and I have some yummy postcards by other artists that I have to find a place for. In the meantime, it is a feast for the eyes.

I took down one of my own pieces, Luxury Lofts, so I could hang the Bundle: It is one of my favorites, which is image transfer and paint on canvas. Marty loves it and is going to take it into his office so he can look at it every day. Ok. A change of scene is good for everybody - and I don't want to ever sell that piece, so it's ok.

luxury-lofts224k

We all have pieces we don't want to part with, for whatever reason. The other piece I don't want to sell is Anniversary Waltz. don't ask me why - I just love that piece. It's 8"x8" and just moves me.

anniversary-waltz

Do you have pieces you can't part with? Which ones, and why? It's the why that is so interesting: if you really think about it, you might gain some insights.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

silk purse

Here is the sow's ear.

I had dyed some fabric, which came out great except for the green blobs which mysteriously appeared. I seem to have a knack for these things, don't I? So, when I spent the afternoon on the deck yesterday screening with thickened dyes, these were the perfect foils for my experiments. I ripped the fabric into pieces and went to work. Above, the original.

The first pass was with thickened dyes which had dried in the screen. Notice how the green blobs seem to recede in the face of the overprinting. Better? Well, certainly not worse.

first-pass---no-discharge

This is what I call "impromptu screen printing because once you let the dye dry in the screen, you can print on a moment's notice. Kerr Grabowski, who introduced me to the process, calls it 'deconstructed screen printing' --and Leslie Morgan & Claire Benn call a similar process "breakdown printing."

On the second pass, more of the dye came out and I think it is gets yummier and more interesting than the first time 'round.

You can't even see the green blobs. Of course,if you are a conservative person, you might not be happy with the impromptu, unpredictable result. You don't have a lot of control over what happens.

The third time around, I threw some thiox into the mix to see what would happen. This is what happened.

The last time around, I used only discharge past to go through the screen and the color of the fabric changed completely.

Ok, so now you see it all. (Of course, I have spent the last hour trying to upload one of the pictures and getting very frustrated with Blogger -- but it's done). An interesting exercise, from which I learned what I should do differently next time around. If I can remember - LOL.

BTW - the shoulder is better today -- thanks to Missy for advice and to all of you for your empathetic responses. The fingers are back to normal, too. Or what passes for normal around here. Now I need to address myself to some paperwork and the requisite 9:pm cup of tea and the last two biscotti.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

remember these?

Well, you MIGHT if you knew what it was. It's a RICE BAG. If you were on a quilting list in the early 1980's - when the listservs were all text and no graphics, and the screens were black or blue with white text, and there were lists like Genie and Delphi and eventually, Quiltnet - you will remember rice bags. This one is on my right shoulder at the moment, giving it moist heat to relieve the ache.My shoulder has been killing me for days: feels like bursitis. Here's the deal, for those of you who don't remember when everybody on the planet was making these things. You dump a bunch of cheap white rice into a little pillowcase thingie you've made on your sewing machine. Then, when your back or shoulder or neck or wrist or elbow or whatever, aches, you stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes and s too hot, wrap it in a towel and put it where it hurts. Ahhhhhh. You can use it again and again - but when it starts to smell like popcorn, dump out the rice and refill it. This one is about 6"x9" and is filled with a big box of Carolina rice. There used to be these discussions about whether rice worked better, or split peas, or some other grain or bean. I couldn't be bothered doing the research: rice always worked for me. I used to keep a few around at all times but the one I used in desperation last night was gross, and I didn't have a grain of rice in the house. So we stopped at Whole Foods on the way home from dinner tonight. I had to paw through rows of basmati, brown, wild, jasmine, and 17 other varieties of exotic mixtures till I found my $1.99 Carolina cheapo rice. i think I overpaid, but I was desperate. I sewed up and filled this (above) ugly piece of fabric I printed when I was in Florida on my mother's dark porch: looks like a gelatin print that might have potential if it didn't have blobs of black paint on it. See, there is a use for everything! Today, between phone calls that I was not going to answer but did, I was out on the deck again printing more fabric samples with dyes and discharge paste. I haven't ironed them yet to see how they have turned out, but maybe later. I threw out an iron yesterday because it leaked and then the handle got too hot. One of my kids used it in college (or didn't use it,which is more likely) - and I think that kid has been out of college more years than I care to contemplate. So, on my list for tomorrow - buy a couple of cheapo irons to discharge and do batik with.

One of the phone calls today was from my friend Barbara in Atlanta. I'm going to stay with her when I am there teaching Soy Wax Batik at Fiber on a Whim, Oct 11-12. Apparently, there has been a lot of buzz about the workshop there, so if you live within driving distance of Atlanta and want to sign up for the workshop, I think there are still a couple of spots left.

I am going to rinse out my fabric and make a cup of tea and will be back with an update if there is anything worth posting a picture of - LOL.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

what I learned today

Spent today out on the deck working with discharge. It was cool, sunny, and a perfect day for that activity; too nice to stay inside after days of pouring rain. I tested out several different cottons and several different discharge agents and, needless to say, I got several different results. I also learned a thing or three. 1. don't test an iron with your fingers. If you do, ice for several hours.

2. If you drip soy wax on your deck floor, iron your floor. 3. when you discharge, your fabric will look different after you wash it than it did before you washed it.

BEFORE

AFTER

4. Clorox gel can turn the fabric a lovely shade of orange that lightens when you wash it.

5. Thiox turns the fabric yet another color.

6. I liked most of the fabrics better before I washed them.

Enough for today: tomorrow I am on vacation - lunch out with our kids and dinner out at our neighbor's. What could be bad? Hope you enjoy your Labor Day, too.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I promised

that I would post the biscotti recipe. Just be forewarned: in the interest of research, I tried one with my martini tonight. Trust me, it was NOT a good combination. You can do your own research with this recipe - and you can play around with it, as well. You can't expect me to have followed the recipe exactly, can you? With gracious thanks to Florence Fabricant of the NY Times, I give you the original with modifications of one of 3 fabulous biscotti recettes (the other 2 were Toasted Almond and Chocolate Hazelnut) that appeared in the paper on Sunday, Dec. 12, 1993. 1993???!!! How is that possible?

Rosemary Pine-Nut Biscotti

1) 1 cup pine nuts, toasted at 350 on a baking sheet 6-8 minutes & set aside. 2-3/4 c. flour, plus flour for work surface (I used whole wheat flour, but you might prefer unbleached white) 1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 tsp baking powder pinch of salt 4 eggs, beaten lightly 1 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla 2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped (you could probably use dried leaves) 1 tsp lemon zest 2) sift the dry ingredients and set aside (I don't bother sifting) 3) beat the eggs until blended. Remove 2 T and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs till blended. Stir in vanilla, rosemary & lemon zest, then flour mixture to make a soft dough. (uh - I added the sugar to the dry ingredients by mistake, but it didn't seem to matter. I also added 1/4 c oil to the mixture, because the whole wheat flour makes a really dry mixture.) 4) Divide dough in half and on a well-floured surface, with floured hands, pat each into a 6" square. Scatter half the pine nuts on each square and press into the dough. 5) Roll dough into cylinders about 2" diameter and 15" long. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with reserved beaten egg. 6) Bake at 350 about 15 min or till golden and firm to the touch (in my lousy oven, this takes about 25 min). Take out and slice into 1/2" slices and lay on baking sheet. Return to oven for 10 min, take out, turn slices over, bake another 10 min till golden on each side. Cool completely before serving. Yield: supposedly about 60 biscotti, but I only got 44. Whatever. Enjoy! I am going back to the studio.