Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday?

It's hard to tell which day it is when you have a long weekend. It sure felt like a weekday to me after I spent 2 hours and an amount I would be happy to win in the lottery at the supermarket. I was out of everything: even onions, so you can imagine! And of course, the place was mobbed. Marty didn't believe me when I told him there was stuff I didn't buy, but it's true. Among the things I did buy were lobsters at $5.99/lb - a bargain too good to resist, even though they were 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. I bought four of them and steamed them all tonight. We ate two, with corn and home made coleslaw. The other two are Tuesday's dinner : my husband would rather eat cold lobster than anything. Tomorrow, I will try my son's sparerib recipe - the one he swears by. We will be home again. The weather here has been the most gorgeous Labor Day weekend I can remember: usually it gets cold and rainy and ruins the end of the summer. This is perfect weather. Nonetheless, I am keeping my friend Claire and all the other people fleeing N.O. ahead of the storm in my heart. I hope they all get to safe places. I have a pile of pieces that need to be stitched. And this one, which I printed tonight while listening to the hurricane reports. Lots of possibilities here but I'll deal with them tomorrow. P.S. Just in case your brain needs a little waking up - here's a little challenge my alter-ego Rayna from Dallas sent me. It takes an average of 5 tries to get it right. It took me 4. How'd you do?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

à la recherche du temps perdu - sans Proust

One more day of August and the leaves are already starting to come down. Little yellow leaves among the green, tumbling gently onto the outdoor chairs. My woods are still lush, but this dead cluster, which hangs there all year 'round, suddenly became visible today. They are there when the rest of the forest is bare in winter and when the trees are green in spring and summer or red and amber in autumn. It gives me the creeps. The past - some of it mine - has come up to meet me these last couple of days. A confluence of events. The Kennedy memory I posted about yesterday. Then, last night I finished reading Bridge of Sighs - set in the 1950's in a small town in upstate NY- an exploration of the past of the town intertwined with the characters' sense of past and how they remembered it. I felt a sense of loss when I finished it. This morning, I opened a package and found my teenage self staring back at me in one photo and in another, my head thrown back in laughter. A wonderful gift from the friend who had taken them decades ago, had just found the negatives, and printed them for me. Visual madeleines, sent and accepted with love. Finally, this afternoon, Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Woody Allen's new movie. Funny, thoughtful, poignant, and extremely interesting. Not to be missed: the past is prelude. I am looking forward to September: for me, it is always a beginning.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday morning

This morning dawned overcast, muggy, and cool -- a strange combination. I am sewing this morning and will finally get to the hair salon this afternoon, much overdue. I was going to blog last night but once I turned on NY public radio to listen to the convention, I resorted to cutting fabric so I could pay attention to the radio. I don't watch TV so this was really the first time I tuned into the goings-on; I didn't think I should miss tonight's acceptance speech. I am glad I didn't. Obama was brilliant and while he spoke, I was a college student again, transported to Boston Garden in the fall of 1960, riveted by Jack Kennedy as he ran for President. Here is the campaign button I bought that night - it has never left my bulletin board. How I feel today is less about politics than about hope and change and renewal -- and a sense of connection - - something Laura c-w spoke about so eloquently this past week. And through it all, an overwhelming sense of mourning and the loss of our collective innocence. Enough said. I need to attack the pile of almost-done pieces that are piled on the chair waiting to be stitched. But before I go to work, I wanted to post a few examples of what I printed while I was standing at the booth in Ohio, playing and talking to shop owners. Pool noodles, sequin waste, stencils,stamps, blue tape. What fun! Paint and Shiva Paintstiks.I was a little limited with materials but it was fun, anyway. Now, time to get down to work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

stone soup

"Aha," I thought, this morning, after my morning walk in the cool air, "today I'l make soup!" Then I looked in the refrigerator and found this rather pathetic assortment: leftover grated zucchini, 1/2 an onion, a shriveled parsnip and some scrawny stalks growing from the top of a celery root. Oh, dear. I was seriously challenged. But I threw it into the pressure cooker, added a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, garlic, dried great northern beans, more garlic, pasta, the heel of a parmesean cheese, some olive oil, salt, oregano, fresh basil and more garlic. Cooked it under pressure for about 1/2 hour. And magically, it became soup!

Monday, August 25, 2008

hi honey, I'm home

Can I tell you that there is nothing more energizing and exciting than meeting 1)shop owners who are open-minded and want new things for their customers 2)other vendors and authors with whom you can connect and network and make friends. Yesterday was such a day - exhausting (don't even try to talk to my feet) - and exhilarating at the same time. Toward the end of the day, when Shelly and I were on the verge of collapse from standing and chatting and demonstrating our surface design processes - some nice man offered to take our picture and we managed to conjure up these smiles. Actually, we WERE happy because my books flew off the shelf and Shelly's Paintstiks did the same. I think every shop owner from Michigan was there, along with many from Ohio (naturally), Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Va. and even from Canada. I loved talking to them - and of course, the ones who stopped to talk to Shelly and me were self-selected: people whose customers were art quilters - which seems to be more and more the case. I was especially happy to meet Wanda Nash, the program chair of the Ann Arbor Guild, where I will be going next year. Such fun to put faces to e-mail names! In front of our booth, the line of customers stretched for what looked like miles: shop owners and buyers as far as the eye could see, buying for their stores. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.After we cleaned up our spaces at the end of the day, we took off for the nearest watering hole to put our feet up and unwind before the nice Checker people took us out to dinner, yet again. I got home at 4:00 this afternoon after a couple of pleasant flights on American Airlines and now I am going to go back to reading the best book I have read in years: Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs. You may know I am a Richard Russo fan. I have read every one of his books, and this might be his best yet. My other two favorites are Nobody's Fool and Empire Falls. He writes so well that every other book I pick up after having finished anything he has written seems like so much pap. Trust me, you NEED to read Bridge of Sighs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

greetings from Maumee

My flight experience was not the usual. I flew American Airlines (Continental is my regular carrier but I might have to rethink that) and the flights took of on time and landed early. The plane out of Newark was decent sized and there were some empty seats; the landing was so soft that I did not even realize we had landed. Nice. Then I had to change planes to get from Chicago to Toledo and the plane was so small they had to stow my little carry-on bag. I had two carry-ons, actually -- these days they charge $15 to check the first bag - bah. The puddle-jumper had about 6 passengers and the flight, which was only 1/2 hour, was not what I would call smooth. But it did land early, something in its favor. A cute little airport. I spent all afternoon today in the Checker warehouse, setting up my booth and pre-printing a few pieces of fabric just so I'm not rusty tomorrow when the hordes descend - LOL. I'm here to demonstrate a couple of different stamping and stencilling things shop owners can teach, even if they don't have wet space. Of course, I have only half a table -- a true hardship (for the other person) -- but we'll have to cope. Fortunately for me, Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles (paintstiks & rubbing plates) is sharing my table, so it should be fun. I've already opened up the painstiks and started improving some really ugly fabric. This warehouse is enormous. Acres of fabric, a whole separate space for notions - amazing! Here's the aisle right across from our demo area. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, I can shop -- but I'm not sure I will. On the other hand...when tomorrow's demo is over (from 7:am when shopping madness begins in earnest) till 5:pm, if I am still standing and there is anything left on these miles of shelves - we'll see. There were a number of shoppers today: shop owners who had come to take the new EQ 7 (or some such number) class. They had shopping carts and pallets full of fabric - oh, my - I hope these people were driving. Most of them will be back tomorrow, but there will be an estimated 600 people here so shopping the empty aisles today was a luxury. Checker is taking all the demonstrators who are here out to dinner tonight at some ribs place (I assume) that has BONES in the name. I'm sure it will be fattening, and probably good. More tomorrow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

picking out stitches

Wouldn't you think that a person who has to get up at 5:am to make a plane should be in bed at 9:pm? Instead, I am sitting here picking out stitches from something I am working on. Working at. Working through. I actually like taking them out better than putting them in: in some perverse way I feel I am accomplishing something. The biggest problem is the Bottom Line thread, which is so fine that I can't find the stitches underneath to pull them out! So it is slow going. I will ask my crit group next week to give me some suggestions, as they will look at this piece with different eyes and at a distance. Tomorrow's flight is to Chicago and then to Toledo. I'm attending an open house for shop owners and it should be a lot of fun. Why it took me all day to pack my tiny carry-on suitcase, I have no idea. But I am done puttering around and think I should bite the bullet and get the suitcase off the bed. Next post will probably be from Maumee, OH.

steaming at midnight & other miscellany

I'm packing tomorrow to go to Ohio and as I was cleaning up my work table, found a few small pieces I brought home from the studio and forgot to steam. So, why not? I'm up anyway. I have spent the last 3 days lining shelves, unpacking cartons, and running up and down stairs from the basement to the second floor at my son and daughter-in-law's new house. They are moving in next week but are bringing over tons of stuff ahead of time and I'm giving my DIL a couple of extra hands. Lost a couple of pounds running up and down all those stairs! Read Gerrie's blog and saw that she and her fiber group had a big play day with soy wax and paint. I was doing the same thing earlier this week in the studio. Wanted to play with wax and didn't have any dyes mixed, so I worked with paint. Got some terrific results. And then I found this piece, done eons ago. It is a bit strange. Well, I am sure I can find some use for it - and it will certainly be more interesting when I cut it into pieces. For now, the steaming is done and it is, as usual, past my bedtime.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

studio afternoons

Monday and Tuesday I spent the afternoon in the studio, moving fabric around and doing some printing. I made a couple of thermofax screens and brought home the fabric I had left there by mistake, in dye in a plastic bag in the sun on top of the fridge. Batching??? heavens! I have not yet taken them out of the wash but I know they are candidates for a few more layers. Over the weekend I finally got my studio fridge! After a year and a half of dealing with print paste that got thin from the heat, and nohwhere to put my lunch or store ice cubes, we went to Target and for $95 grabbed a small refrigerator, which we took over to the studio. Now I have a place to keep my print paste and my lunch/snacks. Best of all, there is a little bitty freezer compartment for ICE. Dinners this week have been easy. MOnday morning before I left for work I made moules marinières yet again. Wonderful fresh mussels from Maine are available at Whole Foods and it takes only 5 min to prepare them. I don't use a recipe, I just throw. Saute'd onions and garlic, then threw in the mussels, some vermouth (per Julia Child the only white wine you should cook with - it's dry, inexpensive, and always good), a bit of thyme and salt. Put the lid on, steam till they open. Last night and tonight, shrimp salad and random stuff. Today I worked with DIL from 10-4:30 nonstop, and I mean nonstop - without even sitting down - lining shelves, unpacking boxes, and putting away the kitchen stuff. Tomorrow I have to meet Public Service before 8:am because she has to take the kids to camp and can't get there that early. Rest of kitchen, linen closet, and who knows what else. I had better get my beauty sleep.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

the sound of cicadas

During the last few weeks, the night air has been filled with the scratching & croaking of the cicadas. (except for last night when they were drowned out by the thumping of the music) . Brood XIV has returned to New Jersey in 2008 and a bunch or a horde of them or whatever the term is, have landed in our woods and are squawking their hearts out. There are 13 year cycles and 17 year cycles. Our cicadas emerge every 17 years and according to those in the know. the summertime cicadas are noisy but harmless - unlike gypsy moths or locusts. I still think they are horrid. 17 years ago there were so many they were absolutely crunching under our feet. This year's brood is a lot tamer and I have not seen any - only hear them at night in the back of the house. I do not like their songs -- I much prefer the chirping of the crickets in the front of the house. But they will not be back till 2025 and by then I will probably be too old and deef to hear them. If you want to find out when they will emerge in your area, go here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

we interrupt this noise...

to bring you a pie. Peach-ginger-blueberry crumb. By the time I took a picture tonight, half of it was gone, but here is what is left. I must admit that it is outstanding; I have no recipe - I basically just winged it, so I will probably never be able to make it taste like this again. I cook the way I dye and print. It is 10:50 pm. I would like to go to bed. But there is a slight glitch. A VERY LOUD glitch. For the past 4 hours, somebody 2 blocks away has been having a birthday party outside. There is a dj who has been playing LOUD salsa.People are shouting with the loud music. I mean LOUD!!!!!! We hear it in our house. Our windows are open because it is cooler out than in and there is no point in running the A/C when we get a perfectly lovely breeze. But with the breeze comes this commotion that might as well be in our living room. Drums. Carryings-on. Thumping. Dogs barking in rhythm to the noise. Oy. I called the police when it started and asked if there was a noise ordinance. Yes, after 11:pm. Nevertheless, the police showed up and the music stopped for 30 seconds. As soon as the cops left, louder than ever. I want to go to SLEEP!!! Instead, I am listening to noise that is not even drowned out by the airplane that is now flying overhead. Sigh. I guess it's time to turn on the air conditioning after all...

it's late

Goodness, it's almost 2:am on the east coast and I am still up. That's what I get from chomping on dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. Well, at least I put the facing on another piece. And I may do one more thing before I finally turn in. Amazon finally has my book in stock, so all you people who have been waiting or have pre-ordered, you should have it in your hands shortly. Reviews are welcome! In the last two days I have baked two zucchini breads and a peach/blueberry pie. I still have a pile of work to finish stitching but tomorrow I may go to my studio. One week in the house is more than anybody should have to endure.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

it is raining

I am sitting next to the open windows, hoping for a breeze. It is raining. I am sewing down a facing on a small piece and trying to figure out how to sew and type at the same time. I haven't perfected it yet. There is something so comforting about the sound of rain - especially in the summer, when you know it won't turn to ice. The earlier thunder has vanished, only to be replaced by the sound of an airplane -- another comforting sound for me. I don't know why. Odd, isn't it -- how certain sounds evoke comfort? Proust's madeleine comes in many forms: taste, smell, sound. I'm not sure which is the strongest - or maybe it varies with the individual. Beethoven's violin concerto in D always brings back memories of my first love -- in high school. The smell of damp cloth makes me think of my mother ironing on a rainy day when I came home from school. The sound of crickets - another comfort - evokes a vision of the front porch at night in the summer; my father reading the newspaper. I can't think of a taste offhand that brings back a world of memories to me, which is funny because my sense of taste is not only strong, it is very nuanced. I can taste something and almost always identify the ingredients and the complexity of flavors. When we go to a restaurant we have frequented for a long time, I know immediately if there is someone new in the kitchen. It is never a good sign. Today, there was a whole discussion on the QuiltArt list about blogging and why people blog/don't blog; the benefits and caveats, the whys and wherefores. Thinking out loud - that's why I blog. It helps me think. And I can pretend I am not by myself if I write something that might just be read/responded to by another human being. What we do is such a solitary activity that all this blah blah blah on the blog gives us the illusion that we are not alone. Well, I should not generalize. It gives ME the illusion that I am surrounded by kindred spirits. I think a lot of these blogthing quizzes are really stupid, but I took this one today and it was right on. Take it and see if you think it's accurate. And tell us what sounds/smells/tastes evoke strongest memories for you>

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

slogging through the website

In between my sewing moments today (yay- I am making progress on one piece) and whatever else I was doing, I worked on revamping my website. Now I know why they pay the big bucks to the professionals! So far, I have redone two pages: the front and one gallery page. And in response to the whining (not unjustified, I might say) of two people last week, I have put up the dreaded PRICES -- along with a link to Paypal (even though it doesn't say so). Redoing is long overdue. I am taking a lot of pieces off so I can rotate them, and I am reorganizing my work by some other random method than the previous one. I have only one gallery page up, but that's enough for today. If you want to take a look, go here. And let me know what you think. Does it work? Do the links work? thanks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

random Tuesday thoughts

I feel as thought I accomplished a lot today, but if you asked me to be specific, it would be difficult. Spent a lot of time avoiding making important phone calls by pretending to work on some pieces that need to be finished. Did you ever have something on the design wall that you thought was exactly right and then when you were putting it together, changed your mind? That was my day. I've been doing more fusing lately and I still think it is the most time-consuming part of the process. It does come in handy for getting around certain construction problems but I don't like doing it. Tonight I worked on my poor, neglected website. Didn't get beyond tweaking the front page, but I will get to the rest bit by bit. In the last few days, two people asked why there were not prices on my website so that is my next project. This topic comes up periodically on the LISTS. A comment on comments: I find it interesting that the post that got the most comments in the past week was the one in which I asked for suggestions on how to stitch the piece I was trying to finish. There were 17 (count 'em - SEVENTEEN) responses to that post. On the other hand, when I referred to Diane Perrin Hock's thoughtful post about whether art cloth that is quilted is ART and how so many people are reluctant to cut up their hand-prints, and where composition falls in all of this, etc. etc. - and tried to get a discussion going that was stimulating, where people didn't agree, and that made us think a bit -- there were 8 comments on the first post and 4 on the next one. What do you think accounts for that difference?

gelatin and rubber stamps

My gelatin plate from last week's class has finally gone to the great refrigerator in the sky. But over the weekend (is it only Tuesday?) my granddaughter Kayla, who is 9, printed a t-shirt with the last broken bits and was thrilled with the result. Here she is, putting the finishing touches on the shirt -- very efficiently using a small blob of gelatin as a stamp. Gee, why didn't I think of that? Speaking of gelatin and stamping - two things happened this morning that were pure synchronicity. Enough to make me really wonder about the universe... First, there was an e-mail from the lovely and talented Sherrill Kahn, whose classes on creative stamping many of you may have taken. She wanted to show me some of the fabrics she had gelatin-printed for the first time --and sure enough, they are as gorgeous and luminous as her other work. With her permission, I'm posting a couple of them because although she used the techniques in my book, her fabrics are undeniably hers. I forgot to ask her what kind of paint she used - the colors look good enough to eat.I love the geometry of the stamps she used and they look very cool used with gelatin plates. Of course, I am sorely tempted to buy some - but do I need ONE MORE thing to print with? (don't answer that). Then, I saw that Kate Pullen, who runs About.com's Rubber Stamping forum, posted a review of my book for the rubber stamping audience. Who knew? I love that people are sending me pictures of what they printed. Laura Reardon, who owns The Quilted Banty Fabric Shoppe in Meridian, Idaho, experimented with some gray fabrics she had in the store, doing rubbings with paintstiks, rubbing plates, and stencils. This was the first time she had printed and she was delighted with her 10-minute results.
Fall is in the air. You can't see it but you can feel it and smell it. The temp dropped into the 60's overnight, the humidity is gone, and I can taste September in the air. The windows are open, the a/c is off, and everybody's energy level has soared. I'm working on a piece I brought home from 66 Franklin (my "real" studio). It wasn't quite there, but I brought it home to sew it together. In the process, I decided the proportions were wrong and (GASP) I CUT two of the too-beautiful-to-cut fabrics down to size. Better. Now, back to the design wall. Can you tell I posted mid-afternoon as a procrastination??

Monday, August 11, 2008

intermission

Today is a sewing day. I'm sewing a sleeve on my 1 ft. square for the SAQA auction, which I hope will get there by the designated deadline:-/ - nothing like last-minute decisions! But I can't just sit and sew by hand - and I'm not a tv watcher. So I sew a few stitches, type a few sentences. Sew a few stitches, upload some photos. Sew...get a cup of coffee. Sew--- look out my front window to see what's up. Sew...pick up Laura Cater-Woods' book, Tempting Your Muse. Mind you, this is a really personal muse - not just any old generic muse. MY muse has me seeing differently these days. Pictures of dinosaur eggs in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago -- and at the end of last week, the makings of pesto-stuffed zucchini on my counter. Maybe I should be a food stylist in my next life. Saturday we went into New York to meet some of the people I've become friendly with from the Garden Web Kitchen Forum (a place for the kitchen-obsessed: those who are contemplating doing their kitchens, those who are "en train" and those who are finished but still hang around the site). We met at Blue Water Grill in Union Square and afterwards, I simply had to go to the Union Square Greenmarket. It was mobbed, so it was difficult to take pictures. But I managed this one.We had taken the PATH so we couldn't carry much: the heirloom tomatoes are already gone and I've been whittling away at the incredible artisinal sheeps milk cheese from an upstate (NY) dairy and that's almost gone, too. But tonight, radishes and radicchio will be on the menu. I'll have to find a creative way to use them. One more picture and then I have to go put the label on my quilt. I took this one this morning during a storm. These white things are not edible. They are raindrops on my camera lens. TTYL.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

making the cut

We probably all have pieces of fabric we are attached to -- but in most cases, the fabric would be much more interesting if it were cut up and combined with other fabrics. Last week's demo piece in a gelatin printing class was a mishmash; I wish I had thought to take a picture of it before I cut it up. Printed without forethought, it was going nowhere fast. Then I cut it up and used it selectively. Earlier, I was reading Elizabeth Barton's blog and she mentioned that she's okay with cutting up her own fabric because she knows she can always make more. True - we can always make more. It won't be the same (why would you want it to be?) and could easily be even better! Try this: pick a piece you've printed but really don't like. Cut it up and force yourself to use it in something. You might be surprised at how terrific it looks after you are done.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

art cloth or art quilt?

Yesterday, when I read Diane Perrin Hock's post about my book on her blog I was struck by her thoughtful comments about how people are using hand-printed fabric and since it is something I have grappled with myself (as have we all, if we print) I asked her permission to have a conversation here about it. Here's the excerpt I thought was so thought-provoking and right-on. I have the impression that, as surface design techniques are being taught and used more widely, more people are making cloth, adding quilting to it, and calling it "art." I feel like I'm seeing more and more pieces made to simply show hunks of hand-created fabric, without (to my eye) good composition, thought to artistic principles such as balance, focal point, etc. Wrongly or not, I've concluded that a lot of people who delve into surface design end up falling in love with the fabric they make and then can't bear to treat it as actual cloth to cut up and integrate into anything. I can see that making the cloth is an artistic process, but to me, that doesn't necessarily make the resulting cloth "art" in and of itself. I will admit that when I first started printing, I was guilty as charged if I printed a large piece. I still have yardage I have not used in a piece. This is only one quick example. For the most part, however, I print on scraps and 1/4 yards - and the mostly small pieces are easier to use because they are already cut up. Putting them together into a composition is more of a challenge...and I have said many times that composition is not easy for me since I work so intuitively. I'm not sure, however, that cutting into your own cloth is so different from the perceived trauma of cutting/using a "gorgeous" commercial fabric you might never get again. How many of us have yards of stuff we have bought and can't bear to use? Or are we mature enough to have gotten over it because we know there will always be something else we love? Let's talk.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

kitchen- doctor's office-kitchen

Cooking again. This time, a recipe from yesterday's NY Times got me into gear. We had it for dinner with grilled trout. Yum. I know this is supposed to be about art: isn't that an artful photograph above? Ok, so I have nothing to blog about today: I had an appointment with a new primary care physician: one of two women who share a practice and are each in for 2-1/2 days a week. This doctor, who is young enough to be my youngest child, is a real sweetheart. She input everything I said into her laptop (how modern!) and told me this: "there is no such thing in this office as If you don't hear, everything is fine. If everything is fine you will get a letter within 7 days and if everything is not fine, you will get a phone call." How nice. How unusual. She spent an hour with me and I finally feel that somebody is taking care of ME. Back to the kitchen. Candiedfabrics requested a tour, so if this will bore you silly, you have my permission to skip it. The room is 99-44/100% done. Needs paint. After auditioning untold jars of Benjamin Moore yellow that looked horrible, no matter which shade I chose, I was in despair. Last time we painted, we used Devine Paints, whose colors are just enough off from the mainstream paints to get it right! They were perfect. The company, based in Portland, was started by an artist and I could spend hours on their website, which is all about COLOR!!!! But the store in NJ that carried them 5 years ago no longer does, and they are not available anywhere in NY, NJ, or PA. I was about to mail-order color samples when I discovered that another local paint store has Devine color samples (real paint, not paper) and will color match. Apparently they all share each others' formulas these days. Open architecture for paints. Devine Honey: on the nose. Picks up the yellow in the tile and will brighten up the room that gets no sunshine. Now I just have to find a paint-ner. Here's the kitchen when you look in the opposite direction from the above picture. After a 5 month wait, our Zero Table from Design within Reach finally arrived. Behind it, next to the fridge, the file drawers, a couple of too-small junk drawers, bulletin board wall, the phone and the mail slots. Chaos contained! Yay. Finally, my beloved woods - the view from the kitchen table that makes it all worth living here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

home alone

Today was one of those leisurely, peaceful days - completely unexpected. I slept late - an annoyance call woke me at 9:30 and I hung up on the guy. What ever happened to the DO NOT CALL list? Cheesh. Well, I had to get up anyway... By the time I made coffee, read 2 newspapers, and looked at yesterday's piece, half the morning was over - or so it seemed. I looked at the photo I took last night of the piece and was not happy.I worked back into it and then decided it was part of my crap quota, so aptly named by Jane Steinberg. Time to move on. This is the state of the table in my little sewing room/home studio and I was not going to my other studio, so I needed to find an alternative. In the meantime, it was lunchtime. Since I had a number of pathetic cucumbers languishing in the fridge and some previously-fresh mint that had dried out, and I always have yogurt, it was time to make - yes - you guessed it - cucumber yogurt mint soup. I never putter around in the kitchen in the middle of the day anymore: I am either out at my Franklin Street Studio or, if I am at home, I am working, working, working. It is a luxury I don't have time for these days, so something must be afoot. Yesterday afternoon I made moules marinières and threw some beets and eggplant on the grill to roast. Today, this! Actually, it was more like a raita than a soup, but it was delicious. While I was in the kitchen, I realized that I have the perfect work surface right there! So I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting, pinning, and ironing on this wonderful soapstone island. It's long enough for a large piece, is completely heatproof so the iron doesn't damage it, and I was right near the coffeepot. What could be better? Tonight we had omelettes, leftover cold marinated roasted beets, French potato salad ( oil, lemon, mustard, dill dressing) and the rest of the raita/soup. Ah, contentment.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

un-stymied, thanks to you!

Gee, what a group! Thanks to all of you for your comments and suggestions. All were good ideas, but I wanted to finish quilting this piece TONIGHT. So when several of you said "silk thread," I remembered that I had some. I had never used it, but I knew where it was. Can you tell I bought it at a house sale? The price tag on the upper left of this satin quilted box says $3 all. I must have this for a decade or more. There are scissors in there and I think tape measures and who knows what else? Some of the thread is mercerized cotton but much of it is very fine silk in all these colors. Coats. They don't make 'em like that any more! The green on the left was the perfect color. So I went to work. Still not finished - I have to attach the facing before I finish quilting up to some of the edges. Stitching with silk is a whole other thing. I had to find the right tension for this very fine thread, and then, because I don't have a large-eye needle, the thread kept shredding so I had to stop. Stitches are large and uneven but I don't mind. It is almost done. Now I can take a break, go reward myself with some Haagen Dazs vanilla and raspberries. Do you think if I mix the ice cream half and half with nonfat plain yogurt it will count as a diet dessert?

stymied

Ok, all you quilting gurus out there - I need some help. Quilting, as in stitching. I'm working on a piece and have most of it stitched - my afternoon's activity. Easy. Black on black. But wait!! This piece has two pieces of gorgeous hand-dyes by Helene Davis in it and I'm dead stopped. What the H---L do I do with these? What would you do? Let me preface this by saying (as if you haven't heard me enough times) that my free motion is a)not so free and b)doesn't have much motion. As a result, I always want my stitches do disappear into the cloth, so I change threads a lot. And although these are small pieces - maybe 6x10, they are complex and beautiful and I dont want to ruin them. I am sorely tempted to use transparent thread. The light olive was too shiny and light; the dark olive was ugly; the maroon was fine in the maroon spots but nowhere else. We haven't even gotten to the stitching decisions yet - we're just on color. What do you do when you have variegated fabric (and don't tell me you use variegated thread because on this fabric, I can't see it. Besides, nobody makes maroon and olive variegated, i am sure. Think about it while I go prepare dinner and let me know what you think.

I've discovered

how much easier it is to compose a piece if I have already determined what size it will be. This is antithetic to the way I normally work but there is something to be said for it. Yesterday I decided I would make as many pieces of a certain size as I could, in preparation for open studios. I may amend that size but for now, it is working for me. So far, since last night, I have made two pieces, working backwards. Instead of starting to build and having the piece end up whatever size it decides to be,I've started from the size. I have cut batting X" x y" and worked within those boundaries, using the size as my structure. I realize that when I made postcards, I worked the same way. Hmm... No pictures, because they are not finished and I am combining fabrics I printed eons ago with those I have printed recently. This is a good challenge for me and if I get antother made tomorrow, I may share it with you.

Monday, August 04, 2008

no Lowell for me this year

I won't be in Lowell for the Quilt Festival for the first time in a decade and I'm really sorry. But life intervenes and I'll just have to rely on pix and reports on other peoples' blogs. Boo hoo. I will especially miss breakfast at the Owl Diner, dinner at La Boniche, and the opening of ARt Quilts Lowell at the Brush Gallery. I was a juror for this show last year, so I feel very connected - but I'll be there in spirit at the opening. In the meantime, I have been catching up with bills:-( and signing books to take to the post office:-) in a little while. Then, I'll spend the afternoon in the studio after an absence of more than a week. I need to make some small pieces for open studios at 66 Franklin St, which will take place on October 5. It will be here before I know it and I need new work! Last night, I was up late working. I have about 3 pieces that need to be stitched and quite a few that need sleeves, but not in the mood. I cut up some of the gelatin printing demo fabric I printed last week in class and made one small piece from some of it. Then, I have about 5 pieces I cut from another demo. Here are two of them. I think I'll take them to the studio to see what develops. Off to the bank, the post office, and the studio. Later.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

argh - are we all unblocked??

Like many other innocent bystanders, I was blocked from posting on my blog. Blogger decided that we am spam because we have too many nonsensical posts. What a nerve! Nonsensical? Can you imagine how depressing that is? Amazing that so many people are reading this nonsense daily. What does that say about all of us? So if we're dealing with nonsense - here is a picture I took as I approached the lovely and talented Tappan Zee Bridge yesterday on my way home from Somers. Traffic was backed up for about 3 miles approaching the bridge and though this doesn't actually look bad, it was. I hate bridges. Rather, I hate driving OVER bridges: I love looking at them because they are either beautiful and graceful or gritty and industrial. I don't mind driving over the Tap because it is low for most of the way and I never feel threatened the way I do on the Bay Bridge or the Throgs Neck or the Verranzno or some others. I don't mind tunnels - but bridges do me in every time. Aside from the Bay Bridge, the Coronado Island Bridge is the WORST. I don't even like to be a passenger on that bridge and I refuse to drive over it. Perhaps I should do a bridge series to rid myself of the panic. Which bridge is it that people get so hysterical on that they have police to drive them over it? What a topic! No wonder I have been classified as spam. Time to make more coffee and see if there is something I can do to distract myself from the SPAM /bridge topics. Actual sewing???