Friday, December 29, 2006

bonne année à tous

Ce soir mon cousin Frédéric m'a téléphoné pour nous souhaiter bonne année. C'est mon petit cousin (alors, pas vraiment petit parce ce qu'il est plus grand que moi - mais c'est moi qui est plus âgé. Alors...France télécom offre un "deal" où on téléphone à n'importe où par l'internet et c'est compris-- donc, il me téléphone de temps en temps. (Ok - assez. Je continue en anglais.) Non sequitor to-die-for, no-brainer Cookie Crescent recipe NOTE: This will not do much for your waistline or your complexion, but it is worth it. makes about 4-5 doz, baked at 300 degrees 15-20 min. In food processor, mix: 3/4 c. butter (aarrgh -yum)= 1.5 sticks of the stuff 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar 1/2 c. cornstarch 1 c. flour (I used whole wheat flour to get fiber and make myself feel less guilty - and they are just as good!! In fact, better!) Take 1/2 tsp of dough, roll into log and shape into crescent. Flatten. Bake as above. I got about 5 doz out of this batch. I make 'em small because they are so addicitve I will eat 6 of them - no matter what size they are. Aarrgh. No fail. You can roll them in confect. sugar while warm, but I don't like 'em that sweet. I was seriously considering making this batch with salted pistachios either added in or crushed so I could roll the cookies in 'em. But lazy. So, instead, I am sitting here eating the cookies with a side of salted pistachios. So delicious. So decadent. Trust me, these are so easy your 6-7 year old kids or grandkids can make them.

If there are any left, I am taking them into NY to give to our friend Arthur, who loves any cookies. His favorites are my lemon squares but I didn't have time to make them today. This morning, I paid bills (my mother's and my own)and then this afternoon, went to the Short Hills Mall to buy a weekend house gift for Rosalie & Arthur, since we are staying at their East Side Manhattan pied à terre from Sat. to Monday. milan I'm bringing the NY Times listings with me so we can decide what we want to do tomorrow and Sunday during the day. Museums? Chelsea galleries? Ah - la vie de luxe! Dinner at a neighborhood French restaurant New Year's Eve and then we come home to a party down the street from us. I love this time of year! Last year on New Year's Eve (or maybe before dinner) we went to see Woody Allen's new movie -whatever it was - and I thought it was a delight!! Uh - SCOOP. Rent it if you haven't seen it!

So, where was I? After I bought the weekend house gift, I hightailed it over to Saks Fifth Ave. to treat myself to my 2007 makeover. After all, I have this wonderful haircut and color - and this crappy old makeup. What is THAT? Spent a king's ransom on my face but - oh, well - am I not I worth it? How you feel about yourself makes all the difference, even if it has no basis in reality.

Unfortunately, I have to wash my face tonight. Will take my camera to the City and try to take pictures to post when I get home. Aarrgh. My husband has the day off on Tuesday: the stock market is closed in memory of Gerald Ford. Nevertheless, I have to work after I get home from my root canal appointment.

Happy New Year to all - and to all, a good night. (I think wrong poem - but you get the idea

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday's adventures

This morning: I was packing supplies and my found objects drawer fell out of the cabinet and onto the floor. This is how my day started. I am still not done, and I suspect the box won't go out till Tuesday.
This afternoon: I went to a new beauty salon and got a beautiful haircut and color that looks fine(so far). Chrissie, my stylist, says it takes about 2 weeks to know whether a haircut is reallly good or not -- so we'll see. I no longer look like an overgrown tree, which is a big plus. Tomorrow, I may even treat myself to new makeup... This evening: I washed out some fabrics I had thrown in the dye bath earlier today. And they turned out pretty well, if I do say so. Somewhat better than my usual mudcloth (meaning color that looks like mud).Hooray!! Tonight: Where is my sewing machine manual???? Since my Bernina is useless till I get it to the shop, I've rediscovered my Viking 210 which I bought for $400 in 1994 and put away in 1998 when I got this used Bernina, thinking it would make me a better quilter. Ha ha ha. So now, the bobbin on the Viking isn't winding properly and I KNOW the manual was here the other day. But it has vanished. No doubtit fell into the trash when I was out of the room. Do I feel like buying another one? Nope. Will I? Sans doute. It is probably with my husband's 1 year old passport, which has also vanished. And with the hammer, which disappeared during my first marriage. Now: I have discovered that staying up late makes you hungry again, so I am going to bed. Maybe my sewing machine manual will turn up when I am less tired

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

weeding out

See this? Tomorrow is garbage pick-up and this bag of too-ugly-to-deal with fabrics is going out! Trust me, you do not want this stuff. Even I don't want it - and I am a pack rat. I have another bin full of hand dyed/printed scraps to finish up with, but I see the light at the end. It is a long tunnel. In going through my scraps, I made several discoveries. 1. I don't have a lot of brights. 2. I don't have many darks. 3. I apparently like muddy colors. 4. I have tons of yellows,oranges and greens. 5. I don't really like yellows, oranges, and greens. 6. My palette needs more contrast. 7. All that standing and sorting makes my feet hurt. 8. I need to make more postcards. 9. I really hate pink fabric. As I was going through the big pile of wrinkled scraps and ironing them, I put them into plastic bags pretty much by color. I came across lots of fabrics I had forgotten I had, and for some, I understand why. Others, I was happy to re-discover. Today's fabrics on the wall are more cheerful than yesterday's - thanks in part to Ms. Closet, who gently suggested that I should try to put some fabrics with more contrast and brightness up on the wall. So, I did. One of the fabrics I had forgotten I had was a piece I had radomly discharged about 6-1/2 or 7 years ago. Sometimes I wonder about this piece; I have decided it was my subconscious telling me something.

    Another fabric I found was one I had totally forgotten -- and in fact, I only recognize that it is typically mine, but have no memory of having printed it. I think this piece of yarn perks it right up.

    Tomorrow, I need to finish up a bit of sorting, get back to work, and then go get a haircut at a new, hip place I haven't tried before. I am probably too old for green and purple hair, but we'll see.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    My Dec. 25th

    Decided I was going spend the day sorting fabrics and trying to make some sense of the mess in the overflowing bins of fabric scraps. There are so many little bitty pieces and no place to contain them, it seems. I started ironing scraps. But then I decided to make some fabric postcards and then, of course, some of those fabrics needed just a little bit of something screened on them...and you know how that goes. The bin has now overflowed onto the table, which is also covered with jars of paint, Thermofax screens, and bits of cloth in piles. I am, I think, worse off than before I started.When I started sorting, I also threw the larger pieces at the design wall just to get them out of the way. Here is my design wall - without design. And, oh, dear, the bin of fabric and part of the chair which is also covered in fabric. Of course, the up-side of this is that I've discovered pieces of fabric that I had forgotten about. The down-side is that I have to leave all this mess here till tonight because I am working today. So I am off to get my infusion of caffeine and get busy.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    life giving more gifts

    Chanukah is over, but yesterday I received a gift from a stranger who has seen my solo exhibit, not once, but several times. One of my own postcards, addressed to me in an unfamilar handwriting, with a message that made a difference.While she said her art-buying days are over because she has a large collection in a small apartment, she also said that if she were in the market for a meaningful piece of art, it would be one of mine. A meaningful piece of art. Could she have said anything better? This morning, I looked her up and phoned her to thank her. She is a poet and journalist who teaches writing and poetry workshops to other senior citizens - at the Y, at assisted living facilities, and through on-line workshops. We had a wonderful conversation and she is sending me a copy of her book. I will make her a textile postcard that might or might not qualify as meaningful art - but will be from my heart. The kindness of strangers: small gifts with large impact. More gifts - from me to me. Marty, my mother, and I went to the movies today and saw Helene Mirren in "The Queen," which I highly recommend. We got there early enough to go into a nearby antique shop and poke around -- and I bought several items that called my name. The owner of the shop also gave me a deal I couldn't refuse, which made it relatively easy. But tell me what kind of a lunatic would buy such items?? Item #1: a large advertising thermometer from a long-defunct fancy men's clothier in Passaic, NJ. Item #2: no doubt from the same store - a box FULL of suiting material samples from Hart Schaffner & Marx, Winter 1929-30. Winter suits would have been ordered at the end of the summer, so I assume this was witness to Black Friday - Oct, 1929.

    inside lid

    inside box

    sample card - no moth holes!

    Item #3: a sample book #193 of vat-dyed rayon from National Analine, including formulas and instructions. The colors are still vivid.

    So now I am off to make a meaningful (but small) piece of art for my postcard-writer. I wish those of you celebrating Christmas a happy December 25th.

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    Art Quilts Lowell 2007

    The typo in the prospectus for this national juried exibit has been fixed and it is now correct and on-line here . Go for it!

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    life gives us gifts

    I just read that phrase somewhere: life gives us gifts. The trick is being able to recognize them and then being able to open our arms to accept them. Life gave me a gift this week. Not a FREE gift, mind you. But a gift nevertheless.

    At some point, there will be walls where the blue tape is on the floor. And this will be 550 sq. ft of studio space I will be sharing with another artist.

    The building is in a complex dating from 1880 and this space, being sub-divided by one artist for other artists, fell into my lap as a result of mentioning I was looking for space when I was at last week's artist crit group. The painter was at the same meeting, also looking for space, and we went to see this sunny, airy loft yesterday. Hope to sign the lease next week and move in at some point next month, if it is ready.

    I am already wondering what effect this space will have on my work, once I settle in. The painter is also going through a creative transition, so it should be interesting.

    Even if I had not been sure the moment I saw the interior, I would surely have known that I belonged here when I saw this wall adjacent to the exterior door. Another gift.

    This is uncannily similar in feeling, if not in fact, to some photos I took in London several years ago and to many other pictures of graffiti and old walls that I've taken over the years. Layers of time...

    Now I should go take advantage of the gift of time. I don't have to get up early tomorrow, so I can work late tonight if I choose to.

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    more on gelatin, etc

    Last night, I decided to cut my gelatin plate into shapes. But before I got too far, it decided to break apart all by itself. So much for having control over your art! During the week in the fridge, it had developed pock marks -- added texture that made it even more interesting to work with. Kinda cool, huh?

    Here is the ugly piece of fabric I decided I needed to put another layer on. I had batik'd it and was underwhelmed with the results.

    This is what it looks like now that I've introduced it to gelatin printing.

    Right now it is on my design wall, looking like this.

    We'll see what it says to me tomorrow morning.

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    crit groups and crit groups

    Earlier this week I attended a crit group meeting. Not my usual textiles art crit group, which is dear to my heart, but a meeting of 9 artists (out of 16 in the group) who work in mixed media, sculpture, photography, ceramics & glass, fiber, and printmaking.
    I felt like the least talented member of this awesome group, but it was interesting that everybody has the same uncertainties: how to price, how to get the work "out there," how to market; how to shift creative gears...it doesn't matter what the medium or how spectacular the work -- we all have common ground. And it was a great forum for networking!
    The phototographer, who is doing some cool digital work, is quitting his photography group after umpteen hundred years because they told him that what he is doing is too abstract and too much like ART, not "real" photography. DUH. One member has been painting landscapes for years and has decided she will shift gears and is trying to work more abstractly. She's just beginnng to experiment with something new. Getting input from people who are not familiar with each others' work is a vital and valuable thing -- and those of us who brought work and asked for feedback came away with something to think about in terms of where to go next. I brought the piece above because I am not completely happy with it. In the meantime, check out the websites of a few members of this talented group. Keely McCool Susan Lisbin Lisa Westheimer
    I can hardly wait till next month's meeting.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    replies, etc.

    Tonight, I wanted to repsond to the rest of the comments and answer some more questions - so here they are. Anonymous Diane said I would use it to create a piece of jewelry--a truly unique piece, no doubt!Happy Chanukah. Looking forward to making latkes with your recipe from last year.Diane in PA I thought about creating a piece of jewelry with the fossil - but it's about 5" SQUARE. Veddy dramatic - and too big for me. We'll see. I'm keeping an open mind. Latkes. Diane, you reminded me that I had posted my recipe last year (good grief - where has the time gone?) so I printed it out to take with me. We're going to my daughter Hilary's tomorrow so I have to take all the ingredients there and use her Cuisinart to shred everything. Karoda said... until i read the answers, i was gonna say hardened wax. i also had a question to ask but not i forgot...oh, does discharge paste and thiox discharge differently...i can't use bleach at all but the discharge paste doesn't bother me one bit...does the thiox smell worst than the discharge paste? Frankly, Karoda, I think discharge paste smells worse - but they are pretty much the same smell. I have done experiments and sometimes they discharge differently and sometimes not Depends on the fabric. The chemical makeup is different - although Jaquard does not list ingredients on their bottle. Liz said... Is this the same as the Jacquard discharge paste? I really must have a play with mine - I bought it over a year ago, hope it keeps!! Yes, Liz, discharge paste keeps. Thiox, once mixed, does not keep as well but will stay in the fridge for about a week. I only mix up what I think I can use up at the time - and you can mix up small batches, so that's good. When you use your discharge paste, wear a gas mask or do it right in front of an open window. With either one, I like to hold the steam iron just above the fabric rather than ironing it; it is a bit more gradual but gives me more control. Fool around and see what works for you.
    So much for the replies -- now for the etc. Yesterday, I gelatin printed a piece of muslin (I love muslin) using a bunch of washers and other random objects. Today, not being especially enamoured of the piece of fabric, I screened one of my trees on top of the gelatin prints.
    If you click on the image, you can see it larger. Not quite sure what will happen to these prints, but I will probably add them to the pile of other random prints.
    In the meantime, I have to peel 5 lbs of potatoes tomorrow morning, so I'm off to bed to store up all the energy I'll need. And oops - my houseguests from Pittsburgh are also arriving tomorrow later in the day. This promises to be one of those weeks.

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Thiox and stuff

    Animal, vegetable, or mineral?? While you are pondering the answer, here are some things about Thiox... 1. Its real name is Thiourea Dioxide and it is a color removing agent. 2. I buy mine from ProChem and there are directions on the jar. No doubt, Dharma sells it also. 3. It does not destroy fabric so you do not need to treat it afterwards. 4. Unlike bleach, it is safe to use on silk. 5. It is activated by moist heat and does not smell till you steam it. 6. When you steam iron it or boil it (thiox bath), it smells rather vile so you will want to wear a respirator and/ or do it near an open window or outside. 7. It smells similar to discharge paste but is chemically different and may discharge differently. 8. Not everything discharges with Thiox. Some things only discharge with bleach. 9. Bleach and Thiox will discharge the same fabric to different colors. 10. If you steam iron the fabric, you can control how much discharge you have. I boiled those shirts and fabrics from yesterday in a discharge bath, but most often I use it the way I use discharge paste. I'm sure you'll have some excellent guesses as to what the picture above is. I will check back tomorrow.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    on the surface

    It was warm and rainy today. After I spent the morning at Barnes & Noble and Toys R doing the last of the Chanukah shopping (well, almost), I rewarded myself with an afternoon of sheer play. I set up my $5 garage sale hotplate outside under the deck (and btw, that's all it is worth, since the dial doesn't turn to the hottest setting).
    I put up the Thiox bath to cook, and dumped in a couple of yecchy black cotton shirts to be revived. You know the kind; cotton knit, washed umpteen times, and mostly faded to sort of greenish black except for a few still-black spots that didn't and look like grease. One of the shirts had some paint on it and still does, of course. I'll print over those spots -- I think. Anyway, now I will be able to wear them without feeling like a complete slob.
    I love the unpredictibility of this process. Just out of the bath they looked like they were a soft green. Once they were washed - grey. But that's ok. I could overdye them...
    SHIRT A (paint not in picture)

    SHIRT B

    While I was at it, I threw in some Kona black to see what would happen. I had some sitting around that had already discharged a while ago to a lovely pink. Today's fabric -- from the same bolt -- discharged to a beautiful light purplish-blue. Here are both of them.Interesting, huh?

    IMG_0565

    Here's another piece I printed at the museum last week. I then painted Thiox paste into the spaces. At the time, they looked lavender and were great next to the green. But again, after washing, they ended up off white. I may paint back into them with thickened dye. Or not.

    IMG_0566

    Sometimes it just pays to shift gears: the discharge was a much-needed change of pace. Tonight I went back to the gelatin printing I've been doing off and on for a week;finally, the plate came apart and I was able to print a piece of fabric that speaks to me.

    old-wall

    Past my bedtime.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    gelatin and more

    I have finally had a chance to mess up my print studio again by spending some time there. I haven't played with gelatin for a while, except for when I am teaching it, so I thought I would work with it for a change. Here is my gelatin plate after a long afternoon of printing. Actually, the plate is more interesting than the fabric, but I did get a few results I am happy with. I won't show you the picture of what a plate looked like after I forgot to put it away in the fridge and it sat on my table for a couple of days. Eeeewww. This one, however, is going strong and seems indestructible. Just when I am eager for it to break apart, it refuses to budge. I'll just keep working till it self-destructs (or till I do). In the meantime, I'll just keep playing and see what happens. I did this next one with strips of paper randomly arranged on the plate.

    This piece was randomly printed with some found objects. It needs another layer. But doesn't everything? Then, tonight I went back to the process I have been playing with and overprinted on some ugly fabric. A definite improvement - believe me! And the fabric is not even dry yet.

    It felt good to get back into the print studio. Tomorrow morning I have to finish my gift shopping and then, hopefully, I can go back and do more work. I have so much fabric sitting around that it is insane to be printing more. But that's the way it goes.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    an opening

    Quilts for Art Sake IV, I think it was, opened last Friday night at Gallery 214 in Montclair, NJ. Here are Patricia Malarcher, Rachel Cochran, and Barbara Conte-Gaugel having a serious discussion aboout something appropriate to the occasion. I joined the discussion and if I remember correctly, it was about the challenges of jurying and the wish to see fresh work submitted rather than pieces that are similar to those submitted to previous shows, or that have "made the rounds." I will be one of the jurors for Art Quilts Lowell '07 - a national show - for which the organizers hope there will be fresh and interesting work submitted. It is a relief to know that I am not submitting to this show because I do not, at the moment, have any fresh work. But, back to Gallery 214... This is the first time the annual show at 214 has been hung so you could see every piece. In previous years this show was juried and accepted so many pieces that they were hung salon-style, which made for a highly overcrowded exhibit. This year, the show was an invitational and the work was more even in both size and quality -- and was hung more more effectively because there were so many fewer pieces. Rachel and Barbara each had pieces in the show (Barbara's is the large orange and green canvas) and there were pieces by Carol Taylor, Denise Linet, Dominie Nash, Diane Savona, and other artists I can't recall at the moment. Why? Because I had such a terrific weekend that it sent everything else out of my head.

    These three luminous young women treated me (and themselves) to a spa weekend at the divine Short Hills Hilton.L-R my daughters Hilary & Jessica; my daughter-in-law, Anne Marie. My brithday present as I enter official decrepitude - was this wonderful mother/daughter escape and pampering that was the BEST. Hil, Jess, and I checked in for the weekend and Anne came for an afternoon in the spa on Saturday. This was the first weekend we could coordinate our schedules.

    What could be bad? Massages,manicures, pedicures, facials, drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the Executive Lounge, dinner at Legal Seafood, plenty of laughter and heart-to-heart discussions over dinner, more laughter, and then today - a lavish brunch (ah, the caviar & creme fraiche) and shopping at the Mall at Short Hills with no husbands to look annoyed that we were taking too long. Pure luxury: time together with no agenda other than pleasure. We had so much fun that we decided we should do this once a year.

    Tomorrow: back to real life, groceries, bills, and I need to go back to the mall all by myself to do my own shopping for Chanukah, which starts at the end of this week. Everybody is coming next Sunday for latkes and to exchange gifts.

    I know I have been missing in action but I have needed to take a break. Will try to get back on track: I haven't had time to either write my blog or read anyone else's. But don't give up. I'll be back to a better schedule soon

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    at the museum

    After a long period of creative inactivity, today was play day. Studio Six - the seven of us who depend on one another for support, advice, critique, and general group therapy - -- met today at the museum. We are lucky enough to have a studio to use one Monday a month and we feel so lucky to be able to work 'en groupe.' One of our number was missing, but we'll see her in two weeks: the first time we will all have been together in eons. As usual, everybody was working independently. Here is Diane Savona, making felt, after which she switched to doing wax resist on cotton. I didn't get pictures of Judy Langille screenprinting and discharging, or of Randy Keenan who was busy making Thermofax screens and doing deconstructed printing. Next time. But here is Rachel Cochran concentrating on some multi-layered process that will undoubtedly yield an exciting piece of orange fabric.

    Here's Joanie San Chirico, looking happy to be here and pleased as punch with the results of her discharge experiments.

    Me? I was experimenting with something new and am very pleased with the results.

    Blogger won't let me upload any more pictures - sigh. Guess I've reached my limit for the day. Will try to be more diligent about posting, but honestly, you would die of boredom if I REALLY told you what was going on. So -- unless I decide to make stuff up, I'll be back when I'm back.