Saturday, February 28, 2009

snort

What a day! I picked up my new/used car this afternoon - a 2008 Subaru Outback wagon - and spent more than 2 hours at the dealer's with the whole process. Knowing that it would probably take a while, I was prepared with handwork: sewing the 1-1/2" sleeve onto my SDA entry while I waited. Interestingly enough, all the males who worked or hung out at the dealership's showroom (including you-know-what male I live with) had a very clear idea of what this piece was about. ANd YOU? What do you think it is about? It needs a name. I have to send it off tomorrow because the postmark date is March 1. Unfortunately, March 1 is a SUNDAY and I don't know about SDA's post office, but MINE is CLOSED. So, if they don't take it, they don't take it. Why on earth somebody didn't look at the calendar for 2009 when the Surface Design Association was deciding on a postmark date is beyond me. I am not running to the post office by midnight tonight because my post office closed at 8:pm and doesn't open till Monday, which is past the sell-by/send-by date. Meantime, I did my bit this week for stimulating the economy (according to MLG, I spent enough for the entire state of NJ to sit back and relax). I bought a car, a new phone for the kitchen, and a digital camera for my grandson Josh's birthday. Even tuna fish for dinner every night won't make up for it - and we will get mercury poisoning, besides. March will be a very long month, starting with a forecast for snow. We'll see if the AWD will make life easier. Don't forget to drop a name for the above piece into the suggestion box!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

coffee break

I'm frantically working on my piece for Off the Grid, SDA's exhibit at the conference this spring. I wasn't going to submit a piece because I thought didn't have time to make one - but I realized this morning at the Studio Six meeting that I had a piece in process that just needed to be cut to the right size. So, I'm cutting and stitching tonight in the hope I can make the postmark deadline. That's why I am drinking coffee. And taking a break, aka procrastinating sitting at the sewing machine. As usual, getting together for critique is a motivator -- especially when I see what other people in the group are doing. Today was a mixed bag: some serious art, some much-needed therapy sewing, some experiments and explorations. I didn't get pictures of everything, but here is a sampling. Randy is a book artist par excellence, but taking a picture of one of her amazing handmade books would not do it justice. Instead, here she is with one of her quilts, asking for advice about the border. "This one's for the couch," says Randy. Functional art! Not an oxymoron when it's Randy's. Here is Susan with one of the baby quilts she has just finished, in an effort to use up some of her commercial fabrics. Therapy sewing while the serious art takes a breather. There must be something about February that makes some of us take a detour while we are in transition to the next phase, whatever that turns out to be. Now Susan is helping to hold up some experimental pieces that one of the other artists has done, while we give our input. Can you identify whose work this is? Kerr is working on some new ideas, too. Rachel is concentrating while she explains what she is thinking about and where she's going with it. Makes me think it's time for me to start drawing again. Rachel showed a new piece which she is sending off to SDA, and then shared some wonderful fabrics her daughter Blair(who is in the Peace Corps) brought home from the Gambia and one other country my brain is too foggy to remember. Hollie is working on something exciting that I didn't photograph, and here is Diane's almost-finished piece that she showed us a few weeks ago when it was just getting started. Incredible! That's about it for this morning's meeting. I have to admit that the coffee has not helped to keep me awake enough to sew a proper stitch. I think it is time to go to bed - especially since I have to be out early tomorrow morning to stay with my grandson Jake, who is 5 and is home from school with a strep throat.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

sometimes it is a mistake

to sit down. You know the feeling where you keep going and going and then you sit down and you realize you can't move? Another busy day. Spent the morning paying my mother's bills only to find we were out of stamps. And the post office is completely sold out of forever stamps - naturally! This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours at the studio and had to do something with a bright pink piece of fabric I found. Yeccch. I shibori'd it with black dye (604 + 609)and it still looks blue. Oh, well. Better than solid pink! Had lunch with my friend Trina and was treated to a description of her encounter with the Obama family last weekend in Kensington, MD. Trina's granddaughter goes to the elementary school whose basketball team (of eight year olds) has played a 3 game tournament with Sidwell Friends' team. Michelle was at the first two games and rumor had it that Barak might drop by to watch Sasha play. Indeed, he did: and Trina, her daughter Amy and grandaughter Isabel were THERE, sitting only a few feet away from the Prez, who showed up and cheered his daughter's team on. Trina thought that Michelle was prettier without makeup than with it and looked like an ordinary mom, hair pulled back in a short ponytail. Both Obamas were relaxed, enthusiastic, and absolutely charming. How cool is that?? Tomorrow, my fiber group meets and I hope Hollie remembers to bring my shearling clogs that I left at her house last month. Don't ask how you leave your shoes at someone's house... 'night.xo to all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Helene calls it therapy sewing, other people call it mindless work. For me, it is not mindless at all- but it is certainly good therapy. I do it when I am out of ideas and need to just play with colors and design. Amazingly, I pulled out my sewing machine when I was in the studio this afternoon (my $400 Viking 210 that sews just straight and zigzag and is light enough to take anywhere). Normally, I consider it a waste of time to sew when I can print - but there I was - sewing away without a knee lift or automatic threader or thread cutter. Tonight, I am sewing at home. Kay Sorensen posted to her blog showing how she works - and I commented to her that my process is exactly the same: I throw fabrics at the wall, see what works together, and go from there. Therapy sewing works a bit differently. I sewed together a block this afteroon and several more tonight, throwing them at the wall as I finished them. The one on the left is the first one I did. I really like it but it doesn't work here. so I made another, turned this block around, and tried again.Filling in a bit with strips - but the whole exercise is silly because until I have sewn a billion blocks, I won't know what this will end up looking like. Perhaps completely different! It will wait till tomorrow. I am off to bed.

yes, it's a Blogger problem

My blog was blank this morning - eeeek -- clearly a Blogger problem which now seems to have been cleared up. Nevertheless, Blogger is still being ornery as I write. Saturday night was great fun -- it was just the best to have all of our kids together (minus our daughter-in-law Lesli, whom we missed - but the kids just had too much going on). My camera was misbehaving and took a fuzzy picture of the whole group, so I am not going to post it. But here I am with the Birthday Boy, who was in the middle of talking when the picture was snapped. Argh. After dinner, instead of coming back here to chat, the kids opted to retire to the lounge at the restaurant, so we hung out there and that's where they gave him his gifts (and we all had a few after dinner drinks). For somebody who doesn't NEED anything, he lucked out on the creative gifts he got. Did I mention that I got him 12 lbs of marble nut halvah? I figured it would be a year's worth but of course, he has already gone through a pound and a half in less than a week. Big surprise. The children got him a generous gift certificate to Lord & Taylor so now he has to go shopping for some new clothes that he ordinarily would not think to do. They also bought him a Kindle so he would find it easier to read -- we are waiting for the new model to arrive. What a terrific gift! And they got him an electronic photo album for his desk in the office, loaded with wonderful pictures of all of them, of us, and the grandkids. I can add more as we go along. Yesterday was back to real life: paying bills and visiting my mother. I was too tired to post last night and haven't had my coffee yet this morning, so I'm off to start the day: watching the the thundering herds of turkeys on a rampage through the woods (although they are too far away to see very clearly in this picture) paying more bills, going to the bank and then I hope, this afternoon, the studio. I'll post tonight, perhaps with more interesting pictures. Hope springs eternal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

playing around

Yesterday, Marty's employees gave him a b.d. luncheon and I was invited. Here is Valerie, presenting the cake after a huge buffet lunch. The birthday boy looks on with amusement. Three candles? I can understand four (one for each 20 years) but THREE? I guess that's all they had - LOL. Nonetheless, it was very lovely. Marty took the afternoon off to keep me company as I continued to comparison shop for a used car. We went to two Subaru dealers: the first one had nothing in my price range and the second one had a beauty that I was ready to start negotiating on - but Marty has long legs and was not happy with the leg room. We'll test another one on Saturday. Today did not begin well. 8:am at the eye doctor, this time for me. Less than halfway home I realized my bracelet was gone: the one I have worn every day for 27 years, except when I was in the hospital. If you have been in my presence, you know the one I mean. Went back to the opthamologist's office and retraced my steps in the building: no bracelet. Got home, no bracelet. I was on the phone with Marty getting the insurance company's phone # when the doctor's office called: One of the employees who came in late had found it on the curb in the parking lot (where I had, of course, looked about 10 times). Everyone was very relieved - not least of all, moi. I will take it to the jeweler tomorrow to have the safety catch repaired. Errands and housework - and I was tired and grouchy by the end of the day. So there was nothing to do for it but get out the paints and the wax.. A few of tonight's experiments: (can you tell what I used as a stamp?)
Paint and watercolor pencil on paper. Then, a layer of wax.
Paper coated with wax, then stamped with paint.
Stamped with wax and painted, side 1.
Side 2
Paper coated with wax, paint and oilstick on top of wax.
Well, there is some material for collage here. But it will wait for another day. Beauty sleep on the to-do list for now. Tomorrow, another hectic day. Test-drive, pick up Jessica at the train in Newark, visit my mother, come home and get dressed, go to dinner with the Kleiman-Gillman clan for the final celebration of this birthday week. Is anybody offering me a vacation??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

no pix

Tonight was my Studio Montclair art crit group meeting. We're limiting the meetings to 8 people so everyone gets a chance to show work and ask for crit or input. Each time it is a slightly different mix of people, although there is a core of about 5 of us. Tonight, it was a ceramic artist, 2 painters, 1 photographer, 2 printmakers, a collage artist, and me. At least 3 of us use wax in our work. Anyway, I am beat and have to be at the eye doctor at 8:am. Marty and I have decided we should just bunk there, we're there so much. goodnight.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today was Marty's birthday, although it has been more of a b.d. week. Yesterday morning we spent at the eye doctor and then he kept me company while I shopped for a car (still pending). He spent his birthday at the office and we ate leftovers tonight. But don't worry -- tomorrow, I am invited to a lunch party at the office that his employees are throwing for him. And Saturday night we are going to dinner with all six of our children and four spouses: my treat. I stayed home doing car research this morning and by the afternoon, I decided to make a gelatin plate and print on paper to amuse myself. I had the yucky plate left over from Friday's deal with the grands, so I melted it in the microwave, strained out the bits of paint and gunk, and added it to the last of the gelatin to make a strong, 9x13 plate. I used textile paint and it worked fine on the paper. Here are a couple of the prints.
The one I like best is the paper towel print.
Tonight, thinking I would do some collage, I unearthed my treasure trove of ephemera. I hadn't looked at it in so long that I had forgotten it contained some long-lost favorite inspirations. And I realized two things:
  1. All of these photos speak to me with a common voice.
  2. All, except the last one, predate 9/11.
1999
Shop window, Venice, Sept 1999
February 2000
2009
What do you see as a common voice in these photographs? And more to the point, why do they appeal to me so strongly? (I don't expect you to answer this). And now, after having stayed up till an ungodly hour last night, I am going to bed.

it's 2:am

Although I really do not have a sweet tooth, I have had a craving for white-chocolate-covered pretzels: sweet and salty together. So I bought some white chocolate chips (not chocolate at all, of course) and took a few minutes tonight to make some of these delectable items. Gorgeous, they are not --- but they are addictive, even to me. They are probably better made with little skinny pretzels broken into teensy bits. However, last fall I bought 6 lbs of these fat pretzels at the farmer's market and because I still have a lifetime supply, I used them. The recipe is a no brainer:
  • Melt a package of Nestle's white choc. chips in the microwave.
  • Throw in a bunch of pretzel bits and stir till they're covered.
  • Spoon clusters of the stuff onto cookie sheets lined with waxed paper.
  • Put in the fridge for a little while till they are cool. (I put them out on the deck because the fridge is full).
  • Try not to eat them all in one sitting.
Where has the time gone? It's not that I was even doing any creative work: I was reading epinions review of the used car I am considering buying and now I have more questions for the dealer tomorrow. But since I didn't write them down as I thought of them, who knows if I will remember? Since I am in a monochromatic mode here tonight, I thought this would work as a bookend.Taken April 24, 2007 at the World Trade Center construction site.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Busy day for a day off! The dentist took about 15 minutes and the supermarket, 2 hours and a king's ransom: I was out of EVERYTHING. I mean, when I don't have onions, you know it's pretty bad. That was the morning. Marty was off today so we spent the afternoon together: I took my car for inspection and then went looking for another car, on a lark. I have wanted a station wagon and today I found one I would love to have. There is nothing wrong with my car, so I can't really justify starting car payments again...but we will see what tomorrow brings. In the meantime, some of my inspiration graffiti photos from the archives.
London
New York
Paris
Philadelphia

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I forgot what I was going to say

Honestly, I had some brilliant thoughts earlier. But I got sidetracked sewing down a facing while trying to get Twitter and Facebook shortcuts organized so I don't have to go to the websites every time I want to post. Ah, yes. My nephew Oliver is in India now, traveling the country by himself and having an enchanted journey while he takes photos. Today, I caught up with his blog and apropos of Slumdog Millionaire, you MUST look at these photos. Read the brief text if you can, and be patient if the pix take a while to load. They are worth the wait. On the subject of pictures, I am stuck in a rut and thought I'd go back to my inspiration photos to see what was there. These may be enough to get me started... How interesting to see the consistency in these pictures. There are more, but this is enough for now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

budding artists?

Friday was another art day - but this time it was hands-on. You might recognize that this is my studio (Thermofax on the left behind Ben and etching press behind Josh) Ben was 8 in Nov. and Josh will be 10 in March. They slept over Thursday night; Friday morning they asked me if they could learn to sew, so sure enough, they took turns at my sewing machine and did very well, indeed, at putting together the top of a doll quilt for their little cousin. Their idea! I cut, they sewed - and in between, they played street hockey in the garage. After that, I took them to see my mother. and then we headed for the studio to do gelatin printing. I offered them the choice of printing on paper or fabric and they chose fabric, which I thought was very interesting. Here's Ben, adding some finishing touches to the plate. He loved pummeling the gelatin, but don't we all? Both boys chose to work in black and red.Next, it was Josh's turn. This is what the plate looked like and here's the first print. And here he is with the first and second prints on the fabric, looking proud - as well he might!When each of them had made four prints, we put them up on the wall to dry. It's a series!! Also interestingly, in most cases they preferred the ghost prints. Hilary left me with several pieces of their fabrics and a request that I find some way to stretch or frame them. Hmmm...a challenge because of the odd shapes. But I'll do my best. We had a fun day. Yrs truly was in bed by 9:30 pm and slept for 12 hours. Today was more leisurely and Marty and I are both glad it was Saturday. We got up late (see above) and went to the movies this afternoon to see Slumdog Millionaire. I loved it; Marty did not -- he found it difficult to follow (lots of flashbacks, noise, heavily accented English). I loved the color, the visuals, the language; the story, despite some violence. And I thought the cast was wonderful.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NY - free art & entertainment!

Art Among the Ticket Windows I love to photograph New York and today was no exception. I took the bus in to meet my daughter Jessica, my camera in hand (for a change). One of my favorite pieces of art stands near the ticket windows in the Port Authority Bus Terminal - George Segal's famous sculpture, The Commuters: Next Departure. He has captured perfectly the body language of people at the end of the day, waiting on line for the 5:00 bus. And their expressions...I think this is the first time I ever looked at their faces. Been there/done that. I know just how they feel. Art in the Subway As I walked across 41st street to the Times Square station, I smiled at the Broadway lighting of the sign, which flashed on and off and on and off. Is it new or have I just not used the 41st St. entrance before? This was the day there was so much wind that I was almost blown off the sidewalk, so it was good to go underground for a while. I needed to take the Shuttle across town to Grand Central Station and then walk over to the #6 train, which was going to take me uptown on the east side. Right near the shuttle, I encountered the Ebony Hillbillies (listen to their music at that link) -- a fabulous bluegrass group that almost kept me from getting on the train because I didn't want to miss a note! They're famous -- you can read about them and the history of the string band (and see a better photo of them here.) I got on the shuttle smiling and several other passengers sat with their toes tapping till the doors closed and the train moved. Got off the shuttle and was greeted with this amazing mural by Roy Lichtenstein - absolutely recognizable - but I couldn't believe it. It's wonderful - although I only captured a piece of it here. Public art - another reason to smile. Further on, the walls en route to the subways sparkled with mosaics that I quickly took pictures of but didn't have time to stop and study. Some of these people are real - LOL. After our appointment, Jessica and I crossed town to the new Hearst Tower to grab lunch in their cafeteria before I headed home. Light and airy and beautiful inside, it is a totally green building. This waterfall is just inside the front entrance and all the water is recycled. The addition to the art deco building really works - it is beautiful space. And the food in the employee cafe is nothing less than delicious. Jessica's office is all glass (she can't hide and take a nap) and this is her view from the 41st floor. Just beyond the buildings is the Hudson River. She stood and watched the airplane land right there a couple of weeks ago when that amazing pilot saved the lives of everyone on the flight. Day over, I took the subway down to the Port Authority, waved at the Commuter sculpture, and got back on the bus. Once back in New Jersey, I headed to Hilary's to pick up Josh and Ben. Tune in for the next chapter...and more art.