Monday, March 31, 2008

at the museum

On Friday, a group of us who normally meet together anyway were at the museum putting in studio time, working on whole cloth. Rachel is going back into her piece and is concentrating so hard that I couldn't resist the photo. I can see that this will be part of a series.

The next day I was back at the museum to give a soy wax workshop. A couple of the participants had worked before in batik, but never with soy wax. Their work was unusually diverse and it was a lot of fun to see some of the results. Wow! A real batik fish!!
Martha's brushwork took a completely different form; here she is about to combine the next screen with some mesh she brought with her.

Janet's piece was done with wax resist and then she added a layer of dye for a more abstract result.
One day was enough for just a taste, but everybody took some something beautiful and interesting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I love your work!"

What is the response to this statement? I've heard it at least three times in the past day or two, which is very nice to hear. Over the years, every time someone has told me they love my work, I've said "thank you!" But that is not what I wanted to say; I wanted to ask "What do you love about it?." I never have. Asking that question is so unexpected that I expect the compliment-giver would be stunned and maybe uncomfortable. I'd be putting him/her on the spot -- because it is unlikely that he/she would have an immediate answer. I empathize with that. What if I told somebody I loved their work and they asked me what I loved about it? In most cases, I'd have to stop and think. Really THINK. Because most of the time, my reaction to someone's work is visceral and then, when I THINK about it (if I ever do) I can figure out what appeals to me about it. But that takes work - and probably, time and concentration. Wouldn't YOU like to know, when somebody says "I love your work," what exactly it is they love about it? We're not talking about one particular piece here, this is a statement that speaks to a BODY of work. What is it about your work that evokes that response? Have you ever asked? I am going to ask the next person who says that to me, because I really want to know. Why don't you do the same? Let's ask "what do you love about it?" and see what happens. In fact, it would be interesting to compare notes -- report back and let's discuss it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday, Monday

Sunday was a quiet day. We both had work to do and since it is still unpleasantly cold and we had no need to go out, we actually got some things done. Marty worked on taxes. I worked on the piece I had started the other day and am now in the midst of quilting it (my least favorite part, of course). It turned out to be quite different -- more orderly than it began -- once I started piecing and trimming and trimming and piecing - but it is bright and cheerful and it will DO for the purpose.


Monday: Goodness, how did it get to be so late? (have you heard this refrain from me before?). My whole day was askew.

In the more-than-you-want-to-know category: This morning I had my annual colonoscopy - a recurring event since my first routine one in 2000 saved my life. If you knew me 7-1/2 years ago, you went through a couple of death-defying years with me - surgery, chemo, and a year and a half till I began feeling human again. But alive and well. If YOU have not had a colonoscopy and you are over 50, please, please don't delay. I had no symptoms and I was stage 3 when my colon cancer was discovered. Had I gone for one even five years earlier, it would have been a totally different story. Get yourself a doctor who will put you out and it's no big deal. In fact, today I told the anesthesiologist that I wished somebody would give me a shot like that every night. LOL.

I slept so well for the 20 min it took that I am now still wide awake. Back to the sewing machine...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I promised

to post again when it was daylight, but here it is again - 9:20 pm Sat, east coast time, and I am just sitting down to write. Sigh...

Art? Ha ha. I am continuing to make a sample that shows commercial & handprints in the same piece. Didn't have a chance all day, but tonight I have gotten to this point. It's done enough for the purpose.
We'll see how it looks when I sew it together. Actually, this is where fusing comes in handy - but I am not in the habit of fusing.

If you ask me where the day went, I will tell you that I spent a good part of it setting up my mother's files in the top drawer, shredding checks, throwing out papers, and paying her bills. This is a big accomplishment, trust me! Here is the file alcove, which has the only working outlet in the kitchen - so of course, electric kettle is there for the time being. The file drawers came in wrong, so the handles for the right hand drawers are waiting. The holes in the wall have to be patched so I can put up the corkboard backsplash. Maybe Monday??
The bottom drawer will be for my files, when I get to them. Sooner rather than later, I hope.
File drawers! What a luxury! Almost as good as the decadence of a dedicated ice machine.
If you have spent any length of time in my company, you know that when I am thirsty, nothing will do but a glass of ice. Not water; ice. This is probably a leftover need from all my hospital stays, when they wouldn't let me have water but I could crunch on/suck on ice. It makes me so happy to have this available, you have no idea.

Yesterday, the majority of the cookbooks went onto a couple of shelves between the pantry doors.
Today, during a much-needed break from the filing, I put a few of my beloved vintage tins on the shelves above the sink. Oh, joy. They have been put away for far too long. I think my love of graphics and text is connected to the old advertising signs and tins I started collecting back in the 1960's - when they were $1.50 -$4.00 because nobody wanted them. The two tins on the bottom shelf are my real tea tins: the Lipton one on the left came home from India with my ex-husband; the one on the right is, I think, a repro and contains decaf tea. That is all a repro deserves to hold, as far as I am concerned.
I especially get a kick out of the Maxwell House coffee tin on the right. Never opened, it is still full of coffee and the key is still on the bottom of the tin. This is the way coffee came when I was growing up; I can still smell the fragrance when the key got all the way around and opened the can. Do you think the contents are still fresh after being vacuum-packed for almost 60 years?

Enough for now. For those of you who are celebrating Easter tomorrow, enjoy your day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

7,000 of your blogs have changed

Every day, a similar reminder from Blogarithm comes waltzing into my inbox. And every day, I mean to read all 7,000 of them. Today I finally caught up with a few - and now I am updating my own, which has been languishing as I have nursed a wretched cold and cough that is still hanging on, plus a sore tooth that Richard, my dentist, looked at yesterday. Abracadabra, it is better today.

Starting yesterday, I attempted to make some sample blocks that used my fabric and commercial fabric so that shop owners at Market in Portland will see how my book can help them sell more fabric. Alas, I made the mistake of piecing two blocks from a very popular book whose author shall remain nameless. Can I tell you how much I hate following somebody's instructions on piecing what is supposed to be a free-form block? As in, "cut an assymetrical square using your ruler." What is wrong with this picture???? It's like planning to be spontaneous. Oxymoronic. I cut one block into shreds and the other resides on my wall, looking not spontaneous, just BAD.

Here is a piece of fabric that I really like.
Last month, I trotted around the Mancuso show vendors' aisles looking for fabric that would go with it. "Aha!" I thought - there are lots of things that will work. When I got them out this morning, they looked wrong.

Nothing was working. Everything I tried to do looked silly and awkward - and here I was, wasting fabric. Finally, I thought, "forget it, Rayna. Do your own thing." So, I now have a little piece started that will not appeal to traditional quilt shop owners - but I can't help myself. If something is going to be BAD, it should at least be bad and funky instead of bad and boring. I'll keep working tomorrow.

This afternoon I gave up and escaped. Went to see my mother and then made the rounds of Bed, Bath etc. and Home Depot, returning some stuff, buying more - and naturally, I will have to return some of the new stuff.

Inasmuch as I can't keep eyes open and it is already tomorrow I will post and catch up in the daylight. I promise.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

playing catch-up

MIA but back. The cold and cough I picked up last weekend really hit me hard and it has been a lost week. Well, almost. Friday at the museum, I printed some fabric. It was so wonderful to be working that I continued and overprinted at home last night. I added to this one but think I ruined it, so I just have to continue adding and subtracting till I get something I am happy with. At the moment it is yardage.

Here is another in-process piece, overprinted on fabric that was in my "redo" file. You can see the shadows of the first layer beneath the red and green stripes.
Then, another layer because the stripes had to go. (except, they didn't.) Right now it is waiting for the next step.
Yesterday was the opening of the Studio Six exhibit yesterday and I took a couple of pix, though not as many as I would have if I had been feeling well. The Mikhail Zakin Gallery is light and beautiful and our work looked splendid in that space, I must say. The curator, Rachael Fallaice, also did a beautiful job of hanging so the pieces had plenty of room around them. The turnout was quite good. Patricia Malarcher (artist and editor of Surface Design Journal) also had a bad cold but was nice enough to come and stay for a while. Here she is in conversation with Joan Dreyer. One of Judy Langille's pieces is in the background.
Below, behind Judy, is one of Joan's pieces - made of dental x-rays. The flowers we are holding were gifts from fiber artist Carol Westfall. Carol came to the opening and brought us each a rose as a thank-you for the joy of seeing our show. What a gracious thing to do! She and Joan are both part of this year's Fiber Biennial at Snyderman Gallery in Philadelphia. If you are going to be at the SDA/SAQA conference, "Breaking New Ground," you'll get a chance to see the exhibit. At the very least, check out the Snyderman-Works website.

Marty took this fuzzy picture of the five of us. L-R - Judy Langille, Diane Savona, Rachel Cochran, Joan Dreyer, and yrs trly. Joanie San Chirico was in Santa Monica at her own art opening - big exciting stuff!
After yesterday's opening, errands. I had a 25% off coupon for Linens 'n Things so treated myself to all new pots for the new kitchen. The last time I had pots that matched was in 1963 when my late ex-MIL, who worked for Faberware, gave me a few saucepans and a round electric frying pan. I still have the frying pan, which I love and use once a year. Finally had to get rid of my favorite Faberware saucepan when the handle fell off and refused to go back on. But now, they are made in China and the balance is different and the handles feel wrong. I bought a set of Cuisinart pots - also made in China, but much better quality.

Today, a trip to IKEA to buy cabinet pulls. Tomorrow, the parade: electricians, appliance service guy (the dishwasher door came dented and has to be replaced) and someone who wants to buy a piece of my work. Tuesday I will continue on the GREAT BACKSPLASH TILE HUNT. We finally have working faucets in kitchen and powder room and it is a luxury to have cold filtered tap water without having to go down to the lower level! (ha - thought you'd get away without renovation stuff, didn't you?)

I just LOVE this soapstone top for the vanity. Can't wait till the wallpaper goes!
That's all the news fit to print. It's been a busy weekend and feels later than it really is.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

busy week

On Saturday, Studio Six, the art group I belong to, is having an opening and you are all invited, of course. If you're within driving distance of exit 168 on the Garden State Parkway, it's about 20 minutes off the Parkway to the Mikhail Zakin Gallery in the Old Churce Cultural Center. Reception from 2-4. Click on the card to see the info better.

This morning the gallery director called me to say I had forgotten to include a hanging stick with one of the 4 pieces. No big surprise there; she'll have to hang 3 of them because I don't think i can get there tomorrow. Whatever.

Awoke with a code in my dose and haven't the vaguest idea where the anti-stuffed nose meds are. Can't find them anywhere; they must be with the battery charger for the camera and the hammer that my neighbor borrowed 40 years ago and swore he returned. Whenever my ex-husband and I couldn't find something, we said "it must be with the hammer." I still say it, except there is nobody around to appreciate the humor in it; you had to be there. This is the thing with shared frames of reference: the punch lines are funny until the others involved are no longer around to remember with you.

Kitchen is humming along. We found someone to make a frame for my range top so it will sit high enough off the bottom of the oven. Don't ask. The hood is in and it is lovely. (can a hood be lovely?) It is a semi-circle.
We have ordered the pendant lights and tonight we shopped for backsplash tile. Have I had any time for art? Noooope. But Thursday I have to be in the studio in the morning to meet the newspaper photographer who will be snapping whatever for the article on me in the local newsprint. However, I have to come home because Jay soapstone is coming in the afternoon to finish installing and fine-tuning.

I keep forgetting to show you my downstairs print alcove now that 3 of the old cabinets are up and two are holding up our old butcher block tabletop. Finally, a good print table for the house.

And on that happy note, i will go in search of at least some Benadryl.



Monday, March 10, 2008

hello from home

Home, after a terrific couple of days with the Potomac Craftsmen and soy wax. T I came into the house to find the upper cabinets in place and a few other things ready to be installed. Moving right along. There were 18 students in the workshop and some of them have never worked with dyes before, so they had to absorb a lot in only a day and a half. It was really less time because there was an event at the community center on Saturday night and we had to break an hour earlier than expected, pack up all our supplies, and cart them into another part of the building for storage overnight. Nevertheless, the energy in the room was palpable and there were lots of beautiful fabrics being produced.

The variety of results and the contrast of styles was staggering! Here is Cynthia with
two beautiful, subtly colored pieces.Judy Warren, on the other hand, worked in vivid colors.Ruan Robertson and Anne Datko posed with Ann's waxed and ironed silk. Such dimension!Here's Ruan at work.

And another of her pieces in a completely different mood.Sharon used a screen to create this piece, which was a work-in-progress when she left.
Sue Walen was talking to someone offstage while she held this piece for me to photograph. I don't know if she realizes what a great piece of fabric she has here.
Undaunted by the temporary loss of power due to Saturday night's party and too-powerful sound system that blew a fuse, the class worked around it. Some worked in the unaffected kitchen, others used tape resists on their screens, and others dye-painted the pieces they had waxed before all the circuits went.

The drive home was sunny - but it is way too cold for my taste. Daylight savings time means warm weather. Yoo hoo - where are you? I'm ready.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hello again from Bethesda

A quick catch-up before we start the day in class. I'm at Potomac Craftsmen and we're doing a day and a half soy wax workshop. Yesterday morning was the group's meeting and I give my "OOPs" lecture, complete with examples. I had asked that people bring along their own OOPS examples and we had lots of good show-and-tell stories. Bottom line,in most cases if someone didn't tell you it was an oops, you would have no way of knowing.

Here I am with Russ Little and his Oops piece, which is absolutely fabulous. It did not start out that way - but you'd have to see the slide show to appreciate the difference.
Potomac Craftsmen is an diverse and inclusive group: weavers, knitters, garment-designers, quilt artists, and more. As long as they work in fiber. This talented group has a shop at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. If you are ever in the area, don't miss this place!

Also had dinner with my daughter-in-law and grandkids from a FABULOUS Indian restaurant in Bethesda. We did take-out but tonight, Sue and David Walen (my hosts) and I are going to go there. Passage to India.

Off to class. More later.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hello from Bethesda

This has not been my favorite week. A few glitches with the kitchen which will turn out all right but have caused me to do a lot of sighing. Never mind - my contractor assures me not to worry, it will be fine. Ok. I'm not worrying.

The soapstone counters went in on Wednesday. We love them.


This gorgeous corner is now all covered up. Oh, well.
The Advantium will go into this cabinet and the contractor will put in the upper cabs tomorrow.

Meantime, I drove to Bethesda today in the pouring rain. 95 with all those huge trucks in this weather is not my favorite place - but I got here all right. I'm staying with Sue Walen who is a great hostess! She invited her art quilt group for dinner tonight and we had a terrific evening.

Tomorrow morning, I give my OOPS lecture - so thanks to those of you who sent me images and stories which I hope will make this lecture fun! Then a day and a half of soy wax, punctuated with dinner chez the Gillman children and grandchildren who live here.

By tomorrow night I should have some ART pictures to post.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

the computer ate my e-mail

Seriously. I turned on my computer yesterday to find a BLANK, EMPTY in box. You cannot imagine the horrible feeling: I am a pack rat (in case you didn't know) and I had not only current e-mails that I had not had time to answer, but saved e-mails from someone very special to me. GONE. Not even gone into the DELETE folder. Just gone. Not a complete disaster, since I have another computer which also receives e-mails and I was able to fwd: to myself the important ones, like when my work is due to the exhibit that my group, Studio Six, is having, when the opening reception is, and who needs a supply list for a future workshop. Well, I suppose my mailbox just exploded; maybe it is a message from the universe to clear the clutter. Feng Shui in action. - LOL.

SPEAKING of clearing the clutter (none of which is in the kitchen these days) Judy Carpenter has been on my case to post pix (is that a non-sequitor?) If you don't care, please feel free to skip to the next topic. Ok Judy - here is the quick look at today's progress.
The cooktop will go above it. I love this oven already because all 3 shelves are full extension.

This slightly fuzzy picture is of the island with the pièce de résistance between the two sets of drawers: a clear ice machine that makes teensy, itsy bitsy clear ice cubes. Oh, how lovely! Never again to struggle with ice cube trays and off-tasting cubes. What an extravagance: my gift to myself. It had to be in the middle because it was closer to the water line. Not as symmetrical as if it had been on the end, but when did I ever care about symmetrical?
I spent Sunday and Monday working on my presentation for this weekend (can i call it a slide lecture if i'm using a digital projector and no slides???). There is a slight learning curve with Powerpoint, the biggest one of which is that you don't burn the CD till you are absolutely, positively sure that you will not want to change or insert anything else. It's a lot less time consuming if you don't have to erase the CD 45 times.

I got my thin envelope from Visions yesterday. No big surprise and I am in excellent company.

Today I spent part of the day dividing 50 lbs of soy wax into little baggies; my contractor thought they were either soap flakes or drugs. I got through about 35 lbs before I quit. Tonight, I go back to ironing and sorting. Tomorrow, I have to mix up alginate paste and other things and pack some boxes. Oh, and Jay the soapstone guy is coming to install most of my counters. I had better get a good night's sleep.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Friday I did go to the studio. What a relief to have some space!! I dyed some fabric and worked on some batik pieces, experimenting to see what would happen to a green piece of cloth I had screened with brown paint a long time ago. It was ugly - trust me. Because paint doesn't penetrate cloth, the brown was only one one side. And because paint is a resist, it doesn't dye. Here is the piece with the back side folded over so you can see the difference. Frankly, I think it is more interesting on the side with the brown lines.
I am overrun by fabric: commercial, hand-dyed, and my own printed fabric. I don't ever have to print another piece of cloth and I will still have too much. Of course, I know how unusual this is: that I am the only one on the planet to be in this situation.

Tonight, I continued ironing fabrics - but they were Handloom Batik fabrics that I have collected from Usha over the years. Including Thursday's fabrics, I filled an entire bin. Now I have to use them. That's tomorrow's activity.