Tuesday, March 31, 2009

signs of spring

Can it really be spring?? First a raging thunderstorm Sunday night, then these little guys poking up their heads. The daylily shoots are coming up and I really need to dig and divide them while the ground is wet. But no time to do it. I took a walk this morning for the first time in about 6 months and plan to ease back into that morning routine, now that the weather is bearable. This afternoon I sent out my quilt, Whose Woods, to Teri Springer. Teri generously contributed $1600 to the American Cancer Society and in return, is the new owner of my piece. I'm thrilled to have helped make this last fund-raiser a success. Finally almost finished packing my supplies for Thursday's trip and tomorrow I have to go to the studio for a little while, then finish my Passover shopping before I leave because I have 2 days to cook when I get back and we will be 22 people: a record! Our 9 grandchildren will have to have their own table. Yipes! But that's next week. This week I'll be spending two days at the Guilford (CT) Art Center with Sisters in Cloth -- Diane Wright, Vivika deNegre, Ruth Anne Olson and a host of other talented artists. I taught there a few years ago and am so happy to be returning! But I need my beauty sleep, so goodnight for now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

home again

I got back last night (my luggage was first off the plane - and they also waived the $15 luggage fee for the trip home). I am still catching up with e-mails and tomorrow I need to do laundry so I can pack for the next adventure. The workshop was great fun and the group who took the class were ever-so-enthusiastic, even if some of them had never done surface design before. This lively piece is one that Merrilee Tieche brought with her to show me what she had made with gelatin prints. She painted directly on the plate to get these prints. The Ozark Piecemakers is an open-minded traditional guild that has two art quilt sub-groups. Uncommon Threads has been together for a number of years and they are all experienced art quilters that do beautiful work. The second group, Quilt Odyssey, is newer and is led by Maureen Ashlock and Lily Kerns. How lucky to have such wonderful mentors! Here is Maureen with her charming piece, Artspeak, which she brought to show me. Be sure to click on the picture to really see it. The class spent the first day making their own stamps and discovering the possibilities. The variety on the wall was amazing and if you click on the picture, you'll see them better. Cher brought along a silk scarf and printed it with the stamps she had carved. She hadn't liked the first layer, so she washed it up and wadded it up in a ball. I encouraged her to iron it dry and keep going. This lovely wearable art is the result! The second day, we did image transfer and worked with thermofax screens. Merrilee and Karen (below) are concentrating on their images, some of which transferred well and others of which did not. We are still trying to figure out why prints supposedly from a laser printer did not transfer easily. Merrilee finally got results, but it took more effort in the burnishing than it should have. I just don't think there is as much carbon in the toners as there used to be. Karen is taking notes right on her fabric so she can remember what she did in each case. Everybody simply loved doing the tape transfer! As usual, I was too busy teaching to take many pictures but Roberta Ranney has lots more on her blog, in addition to pictures of her work which you really should see. For now, I am going to finish the book I started on the way home and then find some other projects that I hope will keep me up late.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a post before breakfast

It's been a crazy-busy time and I've been too tired at night to post - but Tuesday was a really special day...despite wearing day-old clothes, LOL. This wonderful guild has two groups: morning and evening, and I gave two lectures (in my jeans and old shirt) on Tues. In between, I had the best time!! Pam RuBert, Emmie Seaman (pictured) and Merrilee Tieche took me to lunch at a Japanese restaurant near Pam's studio. Afterwards, Pam was kind enough to give me the grand tour of the wonderful space she and her husband work in. What fun!
Here is the famous Tiki Bar.
Pam's studio Have to go to breakfast and then class. Hope to have pix of class later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A note from Virginia Spiegel

The Fifth and Final Reverse Auction opens today, March 24, at 10 a.m. CST with 100% of the proceeds donated directly to the American Cancer Society: http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/ReverseAuctionArtwork2009.html The minimum donation will drop each day through Thursday, March 26. Wait too long and your favorite piece of fiber art will be gone! The generous artists who have donated their fiber artwork include: Natalya Aikens Gerrie Congdon Marjorie DeQuincy Rayna Gillman Carol Larson Linda Teddlie Minton Susie Monday Judy Coates Perez Leandra Spangler Roxane Stoner Don't forget that you have two additional ways to support FFAC before it fades off into the sunset. You still have time to meet the April 1 jpeg deadline to donate artwork to Collage Mania and Collage Mania itself opens on May 5. All the details are here: http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/CollageManiaCall08.html Thank you for your ongoing support of Fiberart For A Cause. Warm regards, Virginia --

Monday, March 23, 2009

do I have time?

Last night I went back into a number of silk scarves tht had the first layer and needed more. I was working at home and had a limited number of tools/screens to work with, but I had a good time improving them. I was up late but got them all done and ironed and packed to travel with me. My process, after I have done whatever I have done (here, added the dark layer you see on top) is this: 1. Hang to dry, with a fan blowing on them. 2. When dry, roll up in newspaper and steam for 20 minutes. This gives the fabric both heat and moisture, which sets the dyes. I do not like to microwave my cloth. 3. Rinse in a bucket of cold water. 4. Throw in hot wash with Free & Clear detergent or Synthrapol or Blue Dawn, whatever is on hand. 5. Put in dryer. 6. Iron. This takes me from start to finish in about two hours. oops -airport driver is here. TTYL. Can you guess which is my favorite?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

weekend warrior

Yesterday was a clean-up and start-throwing-stuff-into suitcase day; a task that continues today, after having spent the a.m. paying bills. At the end of the day yesterday Marty and I went over to the art exhibit I had judged so I could give out the awards. While we hung around, I finally had a chance to look at the exhibit of pieces from local school children and I found them absolutely magical! Honestly, if they had been for sale, I would have given them awards and purchased these three. The first two were done by first graders and I assume they are self-portraits. I think we have a lot to learn from these kids, whose work is delightful, whimsical, and hasn't had the joy replaced by rules. Don't you just love these?This is also by a first-grader -- can you believe it?? I don't know what the assignment was but it doesn't matter. Should I say that these children's art were more exciting than anything in the adult show? No, I should not. But I just did. Backtracking again to Thursday in the studio when Blogger wouldn't let me post pix. I have nothing as interesting on my wall as these 3 pieces above, but I did get something accomplished. BTW - this is how it typically looks rather than what you saw in the photos that were in the Cloth Paper Scissors last studio issue. At any rate, I took a lot of the fabrics off of my design wall and worked instead on paper. Here are two pieces I did on Thursday. This one started as a demo piece of soy wax on paper with paint and I finished it Thurs. What now? And this was the newspaper sheet I used under the above picture, which got full of black paint. Then I decided it was - or could be - something or part of something. Who knows? Blogger is very s-l-o-w today and I have to finish packing, so I'll leave it here. Tomorrow morning, the joy of stopover flying and connecting flights. I am delighted to be going to Springfield, MO., home of Ozark Piecemakers, the Uncommon Threads art quilt group, and Cashew Chicken (which I will NOT be eating). Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

working my way back to yesterday

Ahhhh - spring! This morning's gift from the season gods; a counterpoint to the little green shoots coming up in the patch of dirt outside the front door. Fortunately, the roads were clean and unfortunately, the pretty white clusters were gone by noon. Can't have everything. The local arts association has an annual exhibit and this year they asked me to judge the show. The show was diverse: photographs, mixed media, watercolor, acrylics, and one piece of pottery. Since there was no such thing as apples to apples, I really had a hard time. There were many pedestrian but technically well-executed pictures but that wasn't what I was looking for. In the end I finally picked the three pieces I would most liked to have taken home with me. I took composition into consideration, as well as an original approach to the subject..but primarily, I was looking for something that SPOKE; an image that implied a story -- that had context and a strong viewpoint. I didn't look at how many paintstrokes to the inch or turn the artwork over to look at the back. Nor did I think of asking the question "how'd you DO that?" when I finally meet the artists tomorrow at the opening and give out the awards. First place was easy but 2nd and 3rd were like flipping a coin - it could have gone either way. An interesting experience. Yesterday was a full day. I drove to Judy Langille's for our March Studio Six meeting -- a much needed break from the computer. I had no work to show but did have my piece, My Woods, with me so I could finish putting on the sleeve. This is the piece I donated to this year's Invitational FFAC auction that Virginia Spiegel spearheads to raise money for the American Cancer Society. (click to see what it really looks like). But I digress... Lisa showed us some of the collages she has been working on, and this one is a winner. Joanie brought a couple of her paintings - here she is showing us one of them. Rachel brought her series of three pieces and is discussing two of them. I went directly to the studio after the meeting and spent a couple of hours cleaning up and actually doing some art! I have more pictures but Blogger is being ornery so that must be a sign I should go to bed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

things in rows

SHOES
This was one of the pieces of art at the exhibit I went to on Saturday afternoon. A whole wall (well,not a WHOLE wall - but a good part of one) was taken up with these shoes. CERAMIC shoes. Truly amazing and all identical pairs. My friend Ritika used to do ceramics and was trying to figure out how they were made. A mold, but then what? There is something very zen about this -- and it made me think of the exhibit of shoes I once saw in Lowell at the Boot Mill, years ago. Anyway - I love the orderliness of this artwork - probably because my life feels a little chaotic these days.
COOKIES
I baked tonight after dinner. Cookie Crescents. My rows of cooling cookies aren't as exact as the shoes above but then, you wouldn't expect them to be, would you? This is another way to bring calm and peace to my world: baking. And these are so simple and so delicious that I have to give you the recipe. (see below)
Cookie Crescents (this recipe made 58 cookies - what kind of a number is THAT? I probably ate two cookies' worth of dough while I was making the crescents)
Into the food processor, throw the following ingredients and mix till dough just holds together.
3/4 cup butter (cut into pieces) 1/2 cup cornstarch 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat just to make myself feel virtuous and I always throw in a drop or two of vanilla - you can't go wrong with vanilla) Form the dough into little crescents and bake at 325 for about 15 min or till slightly brown around the edges. ( You can roll them in confectioner's sugar while they are still warm but I prefer them without it). That's it! They are easy and addictive.
WINDOWS
This is one piece I am sorry I cut up. I thought it would be too dreary and boring as a whole cloth piece, but I think I was wrong. I never really did anything with the individual pieces and now they are scattered. Gelatin print demo piece from a workshop, maybe 5 years ago.
COFFEE CUPS
1993 - you know the story. I quit/was fired from/ the job from hell. The first thing I did was make this quilt, which I drafted myself. Order in another time of chaos. It hangs in the guest bedroom and I think it is still my favorite of everything I have ever made. Isn't that odd? It makes me feel calm every time I look at it. And they are definitely coffee cups, not tea cups. That was the next version. So with all this talk of cookies and tea, it is time to sample the goods (Marty already ate 3 of them hot out of the oven) and check my Entourage email. If you have sent me a personal message in the last few days, please send it again. When the genius reformatted my drive yesterday, I lost yet more e-mails...and if I haven't answered you it's because I didn't receive it. Off to make a cuppa. P.S. - I have also lost all my zillions of e-mail addresses. If you leave a comment and I can't click the link to your e-mail, please send it to me off list.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

10 days of computer hell

Maybe it's over. It is 3:am and I just got my computer to print remotely after the Mac decided not to recognize it. Big sigh of relief and a dark chocolate/chocolate Haagen Dazs bar.
Entourage seems to be operating ok - if it doesn't disappear. I did take a break from my 24/7 computer hell yesterday and went to an art exhibit at the Ben Shahn Galleries. This was a Studio Montclair national juried show and it was a mixed bag: very heavy on photography, light on printmaking, and otherwise a bit edgy which made it interesting. The portraits by Karen Alexander were my favorite things in the whole show. There were two from this HoJo series - fascinating concept. When I joined SMI about a decade ago and they asked me what my medium was, I said fiber. "We don't have that category," they said. "If you want to join you'll have to pick something else So - mixed media it was. Today they have quite a number of fiber members. I don't know whether the artist that did this piece in the show is a member or not, but I thought it was pretty cool...and it was indeed the only fiber in the show. Tomorrow, I continue trying to throw stuff out and throw it into the box I am going to ship to Missouri for next week's class. But at this rate, I will probably sleep late in the morning.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Here's the requisite annual picture of Usha and me - 2009 version.  I went back to the quilt show this afternoon for a few hours to hang out with my friend and to get a bargain that had been promised to me by one of the vendors if I came back when the show was over. 
Handloom Batik will be at the Empire Quilters show in Manhattan, March 21-22, along with lots of other vendors.  I don't know if I'll be there because I am leaving for Springfield, Missouri on the 23rd.  Nevertheless, if you can get into the City, go! The partial vendor list looks really good. Usha will be at Paducah, too.
Back at chez Gillman my sewing room/office/home studio is its usual mess and I have been in the throes of cleaning out.  Almost all of my Fiberarts magazines are ready to find new homes - either the recycling or your house for the cost of book rate postage.  Ditto Surface Design and Quilters Newsletters from the '80s.  I'll get to the commercial scraps in the basement storage at some point and on and on.I am seriously clearing the decks. 
Here's one that is not going: a piece I particularly like that I printed with freezer paper stencils and then went back into.  I just took it out of the dryer and ironed it.  May cut it up and re-assemble it.
I have wondered, off and on, whatever happened to certain pieces of fabric I was partial to --but had somehow disappeared.  Wracked my brain but couldn't figure out where they had gone - but didn't lose sleep over the issues.  Lo and behold, they appeared tonight when I opened a carton that arrived on Friday from C&T.   Fabrics I had printed and sent out there two years ago; some of which were used in the book.   Of course, just as I am beginning to unload, here comes a plethora of hand printed cotton.  This green piece is one of my vintage soy wax pieces and I couldn't figure out where it had gone.  Hooray - I love this yard of fabric and am so happy to have it back!!
And I was thrilled to see this morsel  -- I had forgotten all about it!    I haven't begun to open the plastic bags but will take them to the studio tomorrow and add them to the pile. At least they are reasonably sorted in plastic bags.
Daylight savings has caught up with me: my body says it's midnight but the clock says 1:am. And so to bed.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

learning curve

Remarkably easy in some areas; impossible in others.  Tomorrow morning, a getting started class - but they probably won't be able to answer my question about how to make Photoshop the default for importing/opening pix instead of that silly iphoto...or a few other silly things.
Yes, Laura - I'm using Word and Excel and the Mac version of outlook express, which really takes a lot of work to set up the way I want it. A work in progress.  
Nevertheless, I am posting from my new machine tonight for the first time. Thanks for all your support - I am still wondering whether it will really be better than my dead Dell, which I loved. 
My sciatica nerve is screaming from sitting for 3 days at one computer or another.  But until the Advil takes effect, I'll tell you briefly about the NJ Quiltfest, where I was on Thursday.
I was happy to see that the book vendor had placed these two next to one another.  She had me sign the books on the shelf, so that was nice.
Finally, I had to take a picture of this quilt which is hanging in Usha's booth. It's the inspiration for the commission quilt I am doing -- although it can never be duplicated.
The advil is starting to work, so I am going to attempt to climb the stairs.  I'll fix the sidebar problem tomorrow when I am not quite so tired.  The formatting is different at Blogger for the Mac - it won't let me shrink pix once they are posted.  One day at a time.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I did it!

Ok, all you Mac fans - I'm there. I went to the Apple store this morning and by the time I left, an hour and a half later, I had a MacBook under my arm, along with Office for Mac and Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac (need to transfer those files from cyberspace backup). Altogether, much more than I wanted to spend but I have just had it with Windows and decided it is time I went back to Apple. I had an Apple IIe in 1982. I worked for a computer magazine and not one person on staff had a computer because it was all about mainframes & mini computers and desktops were not really common. We worked on our IBM Selectrics till I got the idea that it was idiotic for the promotion director of a COMPUTER magazine not to do her word processing on a COMPUTER. So I submitted a proposal, batted my eyelashes at the VP finance and got my Apple. That meant I had to have one at home so I could take my work home - So, at Christmas 1982 when the new IIe came out, we bought one for the house. 128K RAM and a floppy drive or two. As I recall, the early floppy discs were the same size as today's CD's. Tomorrow I will get organized with it. Today, I was at the NJ QuiltFest - Mancuso show. It was very quiet - but hopefully, it will pick up tomorrow and over the weekend. I visited the vendors, replaced my Omingrid 24" which had broken off at 19" (don't ask how) and hung out at Handloom Batik, keeping Usha company, chatting with the customers, and generally relaxing. I didn't take any pictures - I told Usha that I could just put up the photo I took last year of the two of us in her booth and nobody would be the wiser. But I'll be tack there on Sunday afternoon for a while and by then I hope to be up and running with photos again. Meantime, black & white text for the most part. When I am less tired, I will get back to the discussion on style. Wish we could all be in one room together.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

a thrill a day

Ok, so the Dell guy helped me last night. Tonight, 24 hours later, my system crashed. I am now downstairs at the desktop which is so ancient that it won't recognize my memory card reader for photos. So I'm typing here while I install my old Photoshop Elements 2.0 on Marty's laptop. Photoshop to the rescue - and his USB port recognizes my card reader. Thank goodness I have been using Carbonite as a remote backup - recommended by somebody on one of the lists! In the meantime, I need to buy a new laptop: FAST!! And then I can download all my files from them. Thank you, whoever mentioned it. I can't complain about my Dell, which has lasted for more than 4 years...and I was thinking about a MacBook - but this is an emergency and I don't have time for a learning curve...and the Macbook is probably out of my price range now that I just bought a car. Oops. Anyway, I was in the studio today. I won't show you what I'm working on, but when I left this pile of inspiration was on the wall - so when I go back (maybe Friday? ) I'll have plenty to keep me busy. I have two things in progress - but as I was putting the fabrics together, I was thinking that it looks too much like same-old/same-old. Then, on the way home, there was an interview on All Things Considered with T.D. Max,the author of an article about the late writer, David Foster Wallace. Wallace was apparently, among other things, struggling to change his writing style because he didn't want to write "that way "anymore." Max said something I thought was interesting: he said "style runs so deep, you think you can change how you write. But to change how you write, you really have to change how you think. ..." While he was talking about writing, it seems to me that this is just as applicable to any of the visual arts or to music. Changing the way we think is so difficult and drastic because how we think is, in a sense, hard-wired into each of us. We can modify - but deep and complete changes don't seem possible to me. On another note, clean-up-itis must be the disease of the month. Everybody seems to be throwing out STUFF and clearing the decks. Getting ready for spring? Whatever it is, I'm filling up a trash bag in my sewing room/office/home studio. While I was going through miscellaneous bags of crap lying around blocking the entrance to that room, I found my collagraph plates (I knew they were here SOMEWHERE) and some prints I had forgotten about. This is one I may have posted previously in one form or another; we had to use fabric to make the plate. This also has some shapes carved into it. But I wasn't happy with the plate, so afterwards I took off all the stuff I had stuck on there and decided to reuse the plate for our next assignment, which was to use wood glue to make a plate. These 3 prints came from the wood glue plate, which I didn't think would look like anything because I just dumped the glue and spread it around, free form. But they turned out to be quite interesting. They are all the same but I photographed the second one upside down and looks entirely different. As usual, up too late. I need to get to Staples early and buy an external hard drive for the next computer. Then I have an appointment, after which I will head down to Somerset, NJ to the Quiltfest. I am looking forward to seeing Usha and hopefully, having dinner with her at that wonderful Indian restaurant she found last year. Tomorrow should be a better day.

never a dull moment

<--------(see below) I just spent more than an hour on the phone with Dell on Call after my system crashed just as I was preparing to post. Bless their hearts - they uncrashed me over the phone and deleted the spyware that had crawled in here despite my best efforts. Worth the money I pay for a software service contract each year! The toxic smell in the studio is lacquer and while it was less today and the landlords have warned the guy that he will be reported to OSHA, Mona and I worked with the windows open and the fans on -- in 27 degree weather. ------->( above is the pile of fabric I brought to the studio from home, with the intention of ironing it. hahahaha. Instead, I vacuumed the dust and pins off the floor and then shibori'd some fabrics to see if I could add to what was on the design wall. All this green! I don't even like green. Next to pink, it is probably my least favorite color. So what is this about? My neighbor Kaaren Patterson, a wonderful artist who works in mixed media, fell in love with these fabrics and looked at them from her painter/mixed media point of view -- giving me an idea or three. She works on canvas.So much for the studio. I left early today (4:30) and brought my shibori fabrics home to wash. This is on my wall at home and I might take it back with me tomorrow. Or not. In the meantime, as usual, it is too late for me to be up. But at least my computer is fixed and I am happy about that.