Friday, August 31, 2007

where was I?

At the gym. At the studio. At home, paying bills. At the post office, finding out that if I sent a quilt in the USPS priority mail triangular tube it would cost me $25 to ship it to California. If I packaged the same piece in a Priority Mail large flat rate box, $5 and change. Happily, the guy who worked in the post office (not in MY town) clued me in and was great. Can I tell you that it is cheaper to go FEDEX most of the time?
But I digress. Here is the THING on the wall from earlier this week. Taken apart. Put back together. Better. The blue fabric is my handprint; the purple is commercial. Interesting? Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, it is not MOI. Not sure what I will do to make it mine, but I am not going to do it tonight. My grandson Benjamin and his ice cream match the blue in the piece above.Josh preferred strawberry - an inspiration for my next piece?? Nah - the cone is too fuzzy. But do you notice that the colors in the picture all harmonize? Boring, IMHO. Where is the zinger? Acid green would do it.So, tonight's assignment (should I choose to accept it) is to do something interesting with the THING on the wall. Too tall an order?

Thanks to all of you who commented in response to my question yesterday about why you print fabric and what you expect/want to do with it. I had some other thoughts, but they will have to wait till next post.

In the meantime, i will continue reading Alexander McCall Smith's latest book and tomorrow,will schlep to some appliance store 50 miles away and across 2 bridges and umpteen nasty highways, just so we can take a look at a cooktop that is not available anywhere else. Monday, my kitchen designer comes again. It is certainly an interesting exercise. Has anyone out ther redone a kitchen lately?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

the thing on the wall and other stuff

Ah, first the other stuff. I did spend a few hours in The Studio this week. I printed some fabrics, of which this is one smidgen. I'm really happy with this result and I expect that someday I may even find a use for it . For those of you who print fabric - (and there are more and more of us who are either doing it or want to do it) - are you usually printing with a particular piece in mind that you want it for?
Are you filling in where you need something and don't have the right piece? Or do you just print and print and print and collect an inventory, from which you know at some point you will pull enough to make a piece that works?
Here is a detail of a piece I printed the other day that I would love to duplicate, but can't.
This texture is a complete suprise and was an unintended result of my screening process with a flour paste resist. Very cool. Someday it will show up in a piece of my work.
In the meantime, enough for now. I had a busy day with the grands at the Liberty Science Center and I am plum tuckered. I will get to the thing on the wall tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I love my sewing machine??

These are words I NEVER thought I would hear myself say, since I dislike sewing. But I really don't mind these days because this 6500 is such a pleasure. Thank you, Pam. This weekend I made a baby quilt for one of my daughter Jessica's oldest and best friends. A baby quilt? Yep. I was just in the mood. It's called art avoidance. Here I am tonight, putting on the binding. With mitered corners. Binding? Mitered corners? Do you believe it?

These are string blocks that I pieced on newspaper - the old fashioned way. Because they are sewn on the bias but not cut on the bias, it was very difficult to get them to lie flat. But I think I've managed. Sewing on bindings is work for people who watch tv - but I read, so I am not sure how I am going to do this. Offhand, I don't have any doctors' offices to sit in, either. I used to knit and read at the same time, but it's different - you don't have to look at your knitting. At any rate, here is the quilt with the binding sewn on one side and pinned, waiting for hand sewing on the other side.
I prefer that people use my baby quilts as mats on the floor to put the baby down on. That way, the kid can be stimulated by all the color and pattern and movement. There should be nothing precious about these things - they need to be USED.

Tomorrow I will sew the binding and - oooh - embroider the baby's name with the amazing capability of this Janome. My life must be pretty dull for me to get excited about THIS.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

a day in the country

When I went to the farm stand this morning to stock up on Jersey tomatoes, fresh corn, baby eggplants and New Jersey white peaches, I hardly expected to hear a Mmmmm0000000. But there it was - a little cow, standing under the Plant Sale Now On sign, contentedly mooing away. Shades of Elsie, Elmer, and what was their kid's name???

This afternoon, a wonderful absurdist performance of Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, followed by a discussion with the actors and the artistic director of the theatre. It was such a treat to be in a literate, intelligent audience and hear the ideas flying in a stimulating conversation. It's a play you can't think about while you are watching/listening to it -- you just have to BE and think about it afterward. Lots of layers there - and lots of interpretations, all of which had validity.

We left the theatre and headed to the mall to pick up a bag I had bought last week at Furla on a HUGE sale. It had a couple of stitches that needed fixing and today it was perfect. I can't wait to use it. Then, we turned the car around on a whim and headed out to Sammy's - a restaurant we hadn't been to in 20 years or more. On a country road, it has no sign to indicate what it is: an ex-speakeasy left over from prohibition, established in 1933 and still run by the family. If you don't know to look for it, you'll drive right by. Decades ago, there was no printed menu. You walked in and ordered either lobster or steak. Period. Then you went down to the basement bar, complete with pool table and a pinball machine and waited till they called you. Here we are downstairs in the bar. You can see the elegant surroundings; the bartender insisted on taking a picture of us, so - ok. With it came salad, fries to die for, corn on the cob, and dessert. Today, it is still a dump, the procedure is still the same, except that there is now a printed menu at the desk when you walk in and there are other choices. They still take no reservations and the lobsters are sweet and the fries are THE BEST in the world. My hands smell of the ocean. The place was always expensive and that has not changed. But it is a treat and now that we've rediscovered it, we will probably return at some point.
As usual, I forgot to take a before picture of the food - but they give each person two 1-1/2 lb lobsters. Well, not GIVE, but you know what I mean. Here is my second one, uneaten, along with two claws from the eaten one. Monday night, cold lobster for dinner. How is this post art related? It isn't, but I'll see what I can do for the next time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

what day is it?

I've lost count of where I am - it's been one of those weeks. Today, I had to stay in to wait for two FedEx deliveries, one of which required a signature. Of course, the delivery was promised for this morning - FedEx ground. Don't ever send anything FedEx ground. It came after 3:00 this afternoon. FedEx ground is "subsidiary" of Federal Express, which means that the ground people are independent contractors who own their own trucks. This also means they are unreliable; they leave the stuff on the truck overnight, and if the weather is bad or they get tired, they simply go home and deliver the next day. This was confirmed to me by FedEx this afternoon after I called to complain that my delivery had been promised for this morning. Bleh.

So the day was not a total loss, I sewed. This is really embarrassing, but here is what I am experimenting with: COMBINING my hand-prints with some of the more godawful, out-of-date, ugly fabrics in my basement. I can't tell what anything looks like without taking digital photos and I can see that the big strip of my hand-printed fuschia fabric is distracting. By the time you see this, the pieces on the wall will have been reconfigured. Bottom line - even if you make traditional quilts (if you want to call this traditional) you can use your wonderful hand-printed fabrics. You just need to go to the fabric store and pick out gorgeous commercial fabrics to go with them. Don't use the uglies in your basement if you can help it.
Just give them away and treat yourself to a fresh look - as in "do as I say, not as I do."
I simply don't know how I ever worked without a digital camera. Or lived without this Internet and all of you. What's next? What will our children wonder how they never lived without? I actually mean our GRANDchildren - I already know about my children, one of whom will be 40 in a few weeks. How did that happen? But I digress...

With all the screening I have been doing, I decided it was finally time to supplement my el cheapo screens with a couple of good ones. My friend Kerr told me eons ago about Pocono Screens but I never got around to ordering from them till this minute. Well, not THIS minute - a couple of days ago. In a moment of insanity I ordered two screens that are something like 20"x24" - practically bigger than my entire print table. They weigh a ton but they are beautiful and sturdy and they have already been shellac'd at the factory so I don't have to worry about warping.Because I had to stay home all day and didn't have a chance to get to the farmer's market, we were forced to go out for dinner. Boo hoo. Better luck tomorrow - we get to eat home tomorrow night - joy of joys. In the afternoon, we have tickets to a performance of Eugene Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano." I think I read it in French in college, maybe a decade after it was written. The performance is in English and I am laughing in anticipation. Life is indeed fit for the Theatre of the Absurd.

Enough. I need to get back to the thing on the wall.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

studio afternoon

Ahhhhh - happiness. Another drizzly day and an afternoon in the studio. Five of us were there today - and in between working, we had a chance to vent about the disgusting political situation in this country. Frightening! And it doesn't look hopeful, even with the next election. But on to happier things. Last night, I decided to print a dry thickened dye screen that has been sitting here for several months. This morning, I steamed and washed the fabric before I left for the studio. I wish I could remember what color dye I used because I would love to duplicate the result. But no such luck, of course. I'll have to be content with a one-off. Here are a couple of details: notice how the dye has broken down into a couple of different colors. You just never know what it is going to do. I played "can this fabric be saved?" with a few pieces that needed more work, and I discovered another way to print with wax which pleased me very much. Tomorrow I shall have to experiment some more with it. In fact, I think I may not wait till tomorrow. I'm on a roll - so think I'll go downstairs and play a little bit tonight. Now that I'm back to work, I am feeling much less grouchy. Last night my caller ID said that our homeowners insurance company was calling. In a completely unusual move, I picked up the phone. You know how you get these nuisance calls where the person says "Hello, Ms. Yockenfloss, this is so-and-so from Company X - how are YOU tonight?" I HATE that. But last night, I asked "are you a real person or a computer?" and the guy cracked up laughing. Well, I had my answer, didn't I? We had a perfectly pleasant conversation and he ended by saying he hoped everybody else he was going to call was as pleasant as I was. Trust me, it was an aberration. I don't know what got into me. A day in the studio, maybe??

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

bqck qgqin:

Oh; no: Noz ,y keyboqrd is zorking in French qnd everything I zrite zill look very strqnge: It zould be ok if I zere zriting in French; but in English is is very zeird; the letters qre qll in the zrong plqces: Youùll hqve to do your best: re,e,ber zhen ,y lls didnùt zork§: I think this is zorse: Zell; ,qybe not!

It hqs been so long since Iùve blogged thqt I expect they zill be kicking ,e out of this exclusive club: Life hqs been frqught zith qll kinds of roqdblocks thqt hqve kept ,e fro, blogging ) ,ostly becquse you donùt zqnt to heqr the boring sqgqs qnd there hqs not been qnything else since I got bqck fro, sunny Cqliforniq: BORING: ) notice thqt this zord prints just fine on the French keyboqrd:

Todqy I finqlly zent to the studio qnd spent ,ost of the dqy there: It is chilly; rqiny; qnd grey ;in other zords; perfect studio zeqther: But it hqs qlso been such q long ti,e thqt I hqd forgotten hoz exhqusting it is to stqnd qll dqy: Here; in cqse you hqve forgotten ))or never knez )) is zhqt ,y studio design zqll looks like:
Oh, wonderful - the keyboard is back to normal. It seems to have a mind of its own. What a relief.

A friend who is a printmaker asked whether she could use my press today, so she came over this morning and printed from her drypoint plates. Drypoint is intaglio but the lines are etched into the plate with a sharp needle rather than with acid or whatever other substance they are using these days. I forget. I have oil based/water soluble ink which I used several years ago for my own monotypes and still like to use because they clean up with soap & water. But my friend got better results with a wonderful Charbonnel etching ink, which is oil. Interestingly enough, oil inks clean up with vegetable oil (which I didn't have in my studio) so you don't have to use toxic stuff these days if you are a printmaker.

There was some of my leftover ink, so I grabbed a plexi plate, sprayed a piece of printmaking paper with water and ran it through the press to make a monotype. Here it is, hanging on the board and drying. I may go back into it - or I may start putting fabric through the press.

After Harriet left, I spent the afternoon working on my design wall and it felt good beyond description. I hope to get back every day this week for at least a few hours.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday's treat

I had a whole day free yesterday before taking a late night flight back to Newark and I was able to make the most of it, thanks to the charming and talented Ted Orland, who drove up from Santa Cruz and took care of me for the day. We drove down the coast, stopped for lunch in Half Moon Bay - a charming little town along the way, and stopped en route to see the kite surfers. Kite surfers? Never heard of such a thing, but hey - it's California. Here are a few of the kites, which the surfers inflate and then attach to their surfboards. The sky was full of these kites, which seemed to lift the surfboards into the air along with them - but it was sunny and my new little travel camera doesn't have a viewfinder, so I couldn't really see to shoot what I wanted. Picture a sky full of balloons. It was VERY windy and I personally think those surfers are nuts - but then, I am highly risk averse. Here is Ted, who is, after all, a photographer, braving the wind to get a picture with his good camera. We arrived in beautiful Santa Cruz, getting to his house just as his wife, Frances, pulled into the driveway. After a while,the three of us took off on foot, along with Sophie, their dog, and walked over to the harbor. The water taxi was just about to leave, but Frances ran ahead to see if there was room and yes, it waited for us. Here is a view looking toward the Pacific. This is a rather dreadful picture of me, but a good one of Flopsy and Mopsy.And an even better one of Ted, Frances, and the dog who is much happier with her mother around! Ted's book The View from the Studio Door has just had its second printing -- another hit! He made a few revisions based on feedback from readers, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it. I did notice that he listed Melanie Testa and me in his acknowledgements for all the conversation on our blogs -- gee, thanks, Ted. And I forgot to ask you to autograph my copy.

'Twas a delicious day, followed by a delicious dinner out before Ted and Frances took me back up to SFO to catch the midnight flight.

I got home early this morning, fell into bed, and slept some more in an attempt to get back on Eastern time. Back to real life: the supermarket, laundry - and tomorrow, the dentist. Marty, who was in San Diego while I was in the Bay Area, just landed in Newark and will be home shortly. Hooray. It has been a revolving door.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday, still Berkeley

Had a great dinner with Liz Berg last night! We ate too well and solved the problems of the art quilt world, of course, with lots of conversation. I've done a lot of people-watching here, which is different but almost as interesting as in NY. No pictures, but I hope to get some tomorrow as I drive down the coast with a friend. Just want you to know I'm still here. Taking the red eye home tomorrow night and will have Sunday to re-adjust to east coast time, I hope.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

If it's Tuesday this must be Berkeley

But first, a little backtracking. Helene left yesterday - I took her to the airport to make a 4:00 flight. She had a bit of difficulty getting her suitcase closed because of the fly swatters, door stops and other assorted goodies, including a metal bulletin board she found at IKEA. All great stuff to print with (except the bulletin board, of course). Northwest has had some slight problems and poor Helene didn't get home to Paducah till 3:am. Continental, anyone?
I flew Continental today and it left only 1 hr 15 min late; not bad, according to my sources. There were 30 planes ahead of us on the runway at Newark waiting for takeoff. I left 100 degree weather and here I am, in the chilly Bay Area without a jacket. Duh. I think I brought a couple of 3/4 sleeve cotton shirts, though.

Tonight I had a gourmet dinner with Patricia Smith, who moved here from NJ a while ago and took my class at AQ Claremont in April. ANd I expect to see LizzieB one night this week - how wonderful to see friends when I travel!


The shuttle driver from the airport was French - from Avignon - and it gave me a chance to play a bit with the language I love best. History, politics, and all kinds of exciting things - a monologue from the drive who spoke to me the whole time, turning his head to the back seat where I was sitting, as he drove. The man next to me was a little upset that the driver was going across the bay bridge while looking back at me and yakking nonstop. LOL. He dropped us at the Hotel Durant - a vintage hotel that is clean but a little - uh - frayed around the edges. But so am I, so I don't suppose I should complain. Here is the view into the lobby from the bar, where I headed as soon as I got here.
Enough for tonight. I am still on East Coast time and have to get up early tomorrow with a busy day ahead.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

back to yogurt & fruit

Other people take pictures of elegant meals or gorgeous desserts. I tried, but the only one that came out was this one at the left: The Owl Diner's excellent corned beef hash, 2 eggs over, etc. My favorite breakfast - five mornings in a row (although without the extra potatoes). I must admit that these hearty breakfasts keept us energized till well after normal lunch hour and then we ate light lunches. But tomorrow - back to the usual fare: low-fat, healthful, and guaranteed to have me noshing by 11:00 in the morning. Maybe there is something to this big-breakfast theory.
After breakfast, a few of us waltzed over to see the traditional quilts . Just in case we were in danger of forgetting what we were going to see, here was a reminder.

Then, in the afternoon, art quilts. Yesterday's opening of Art Quilts Lowell was mobbed, with yummy Cambodian hors' d'oeuvres catered and sponsored by Misty Fuse. As usual at these affairs, I was so busy chatting that I almost forgot to take pix. But here are a few - posted with the permission of the artists, who were warned that these were going up on my blog. This is Diane Wright in front of her piece. Shelley Baird and Judith Plotner, enjoying themselves. And Penny Myles, along with the three models for her piece. After this morning's breakfast,a kind stranger snapped this picture. L-R: Helene Davis, Rachel Cochran, yrs trly, Laura cater-woods, Shelley Baird, Corni Forster. I hope we are all safely at home by now. I have unpacked, done laundry, re-packed (sort of) and will be leaving again on Tuesday.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lowell again??

Yep. More goings-on. Today, after breakfast at our favorite place (see sign at left), we went for a walk in downtown Lowell. Outdoor art! What a whimsical display of public art made by artists and students - we had to park the car and walk over to take a closer look at the wonderful dresses that were part of the downtown scene.


This one was a traffic-stopper.

And these were wonderful, too. All in memory of the Lowell Mill Girls who worked and slaved in the textile mills till they were closed only about 50 years ago. Then we couldn't resist a closer look. Here are Rachel, Shelley, and Helene amongst the art, wishing they could play dress-up. But it was even hotter today than yesterday, so those long sleeves weren't really tempting.

Tomorrow is the opening of Art Quilts Lowell 2007 in the afternoon and beforehand, we hope to see the quilt show and get back to the Western Ave. Studios which will all be open on First Saturday. More, anon.