Thursday, April 30, 2009

between sneezes...

Allergy season is upon us in New Jersey. The cars are covered in green dust and neither Zyrtec nor Benadryl nor Nasonex nor anything else has stopped the sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, and coughing. This sorry-looking pair of red eyes actually looks better in the picture than in real life, so you can IMAGINE. Anyway, between sneezes and eye-rubbing, I am trying to distract myself (with limited success) by ironing and sorting. I did cut this guy/these guys out and put him/them on the wall, hoping in vain for some inspiration. These were class samples for image transfer.
l-r: ink jet on transparency, ink-jet on paper, citra-solv toner copy, thermofax screenprint
As of this month, I am no longer teaching image transfer because today's technology makes it almost impossible to transfer images successfully without a lot of effort and angst. Most people don't have carbon toner copiers at home and when they go to such places as Kinko's or Office Max, they don't get black and white copies that transfer. Digital copiers just don't do it - and that is what most office places have. I have had too many frustrated students and there is no point. Everything we need is going the way of the dodo bird (if there ever was such a bird). I have a couple of Polaroid cameras but can't get film - so that is the end of Polaroid transfers. And so on. If I sound grouchy, it is because I stayed home today to work on my taxes and that is enough to make anyone grouchy. Tomorrow does not promise to be any more interesting but at least I/we will be out and about at various appointments. I will take my camera and try to find some humor or beauty somewhere.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I have some more stitching to do on this piece, but not much more. As I was uploading this, I was reminded of why I started my blog in the first place, more than 4 years ago. I wanted to get back from my work as it was in process and remember what it looked like in stages. This is hardly in stages - it is pretty much done. If you click on it to enlarge, you can see it better...but believe me when I say it looks better in person than on the screen. By the time it is done, it will be approximately 26"x40.5" -- somewhat larger than I have been working lately, which is good. I am between two names at the moment. When I am teaching Jump-starting the Art Quilt, an important part is the discussion and feedback of works in progress (or finished works people bring in for critique). We also talk about naming a piece: some people start with the name in mind and try to make a piece to fit the name. (This is not the same as working to a theme, where the genesis of all the pieces is the same but the names of the individual pieces vary.) Then there are those of us who make the work and hope a name will miraculously sail in, floating above the piece amid flashing lights. I am still waiting for this to happen the next time I complete a piece. One way to name a piece is to look at it for a moment, then look away and ask yourself what stays in your mind. That could give you a clue to a name. On the other hand, it might be confusing if 6 people who look at it all come up with different responses. Happily, 6 people have not seen this piece, so I am left to my own devices. And on that note - la la land calls me: it is already tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

gobble gobble

I was on my way to the mailbox at about 6:00 tonight, right behind this fellow who was out for his evening stroll, apparently on his way to meet his buddies, who were loitering a little further up the street. Whether they were having a business meeting or just planning their leisure activities for the rest of the evening, I have no idea. But they were not in a hurry to leave as I approached them. I just happened to have my trusty camera in my handbag because after the mailbox, I was heading for the convenience store to buy a megamillions lottery ticket and a pint of Haagen Dazs Mint Chip. They did not move. Can you tell how close I got? This one was thwonking his feathers on the ground and they made a dragging sound. Action shot - a little blurry. And this one just stood, puffed up like a dragon. horrible creatures. But at least they did not bark or bite tonight. The heat must have gotten to them and made them lazy.Hopefully, they headed back into the woods to cool off. After a week of 90 degree days, the trees are finally starting to bud. We have the air conditioning on tonight. And I am going back to the sewing machine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

yesterday's news

I meant to post this last night. Glad you all enjoyed the Facebook You Tube (and if you didn't see it on yesterday's post, scroll back and hit the link -- we all need a laugh these days). It's a perfect replica of the kinds of instructional films they used to show us in school in he 50's. Not to be missed. Monday morning, DH came home from the office not feeling well so the rest of the day was taken up mostly with doctors' visits. He went to work this morning and hopefully, he will feel better as the day goes on. I never got to the studio yesterday, but - making lemonade from lemons - I actually cooked dinner since I was home. And I began to stitch a piece I have had sitting around here forever. Here is a bit with the stitching, which I am hoping does not show - LOL. My ironing chair is in the back of the station wagon I didn't dony heavy duty ironing last night. But actually, ironing is very creative time for me because that is when I see new possibilities and new combinations. It's the best thing I can do to get new ideas for work. Time to get this posted, albeit belatedly, and go to the studio. Tune in later.

If you are on Facebook, you must watch this

An hilarous '50s instructional video about Facebook.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This was how the studio looked yesterday, after Marty and I carried the foam stuff upstairs to the studio. I had brought in the two sawhorses (height adjustable) on Friday but we decided yesterday that we needed a third for the middle to give it more stability. After all, we are not dealing with plywood, here. What you can't see is the complete disaster area in the back area of the space, where there are overflowing bins, piles of stuff on the other table -and to your left in the front of the picture, the table that this is replacing. I was going to fold it up and shove it someplace against a back wall but it took too much energy and anyway, one of the other artists might need to borrow it for a project that is too big for her drafting table. Around noon today (Sunday) I left for Home Depot to pick up another sawhorse and then spent the rest of the afternoon moving stuff around, filling a trash bag, and vacuuming. I covered the foam stuff (which is encased in foil) with silver ironing cloth, then a canvas drop cloth, and finally, a sheet. It is really easy to pin into and I should finally be able to print large pieces here if I want to. The spare table went in front of the big print table, at least for the nonce. Right now it has some of my works on paper and collages lying on it, till I can bring them home. And books. I might just use this as a bookshelf - I have to dig up some bookends to take with me tomorrow. By 4:00 I was toast, so I shoved all the overflowing bins under the table and collapsed into the car. Tomorrow, I will iron and sort and I plan to do it sitting down.Right now, this beautiful leather barstool (counter height) is sitting near my front door. I bought it last year at the Design Within Reach warehouse for the ridiculous price of $49, intending to take it to the studio. Well, now it is finally going. And I am going to sit on it to iron, an activity which I love but which makes my feet very tired. (no smart remarks about ironing with my feet, please). I think my mother used to sit on the red metal Cosco kitchen stool to iron, but I think it has vanished...so this lovely leather one will have to do. Hmmm...maybe I will use it at home tonight to iron the fabric that is here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

early summer in NJ

The trees are still bare but that didn't prevent the temperature from soaring into the 80's today. Beautiful weather for walking, which is what I did this morning before it got too hot.. I had the a/c on in the car today, at least intermittently. But it is too early for that! Tomorrow is supposed to break a record for the date - but we'll see. Yesterday I decided that my studio needs a makeover. I want a 4x8 surface for printing and just want the place to feel less cluttered, as it has slowly become in the 2 years I have been there. So I headed for Home Depot to buy sawhorses and scout out whatever else I thought I would need. As I went through the lumber dep't it occurred to me that a piece of plywood would be too heavy for me to carry up all those stairs (no elevator, remember?) and then I'd have to put padding on top of it anyway. So my brilliant idea when I found a 48 sheet of foam insulation was to use that for a tabletop. You can pin right into it. How perfect is THAT? Well, we shall find out. Today, after doing a few other errands and going to visit my mother, we went back to the HD near my studio and, to make a very long story short, brought the foam insulation back to the studio and up the stairs. I think I will need another horse to support the middle of the 8 foot piece of foam, so I will take care of that first thing tomorrow. The studio is a disaster area right now but I expect it will get better. I'll take pictures tomorrow. Meanwhile, back at the house, I am filling a trash bag with hopeless things and starting to iron fabric. I am thinking of cutting it and packing up the pieces in little baggies for sale, but I'm not sure till I see what I have. More fabric than I will ever use in 30 lifetimes. Why do I keep printing more????? Rember this photo of the Aspens I took last week? I made it into a screen and printed it on white fabric. It was too stark for me, so I overdyed it and then cut it up. Here it is on my wall at home, cut up and reconstituted. It looks less ominous to me but I am not sure what I will end up doing with it. Then, as I was going through the random pieces of fabric on my table, I ironed this one and turned it in all 4 directions. Here is how I stuck it on the wall
And here is the orientation I prefer.
It was, I think, a workshop demo piece for printing with found objects and it looks industrial to me. I have to think about whether I should cut it up or whether it becomes part of another piece. Tomorrow, back to the studio to start reonfiguring and reorganizing.

a blog that always gives me a hoot!

If you don't mind my saying so, it is clever and funny and literate and original. Go take a look at this blog: Funny Word of the Day. I'll be back later if I can find anything nearly as interesting to say.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

can this fabric be saved?

Determined to get SOMETHING done today, I finally made it to the studio after lunch, red and green "face" fabric in hand. But by the time I got around to doing something, I had already done 10 other things - like dyeing some fabric and ironing. Ok - 2 other things. While I was going through ONE bin of fabric, I came across this and had to put it up on my wall. A piece of Helene's hand dye that I bought some years ago and loved too much to cut into. Is that not ridiculous? Time to use it! Are you surprised that I got sidetracked and decided instead to iron fabric in an attempt to make order out of chaos? And are you further surprised that the chaos looks worse at the moment, even with the neat pile of fabric on my table? Never mind; the photo of the neat pile came out fuzzy anyway. I had some leftover thickened dyes in various colors, so I just put them all together and screened over the fabric pretty randomly. It looked black when it was dry. Then I took it home and steamed it. Here I'm rinsing it in cold water before I wash it. It has faded a bit, which is what I had hoped would happen. Now it looks like a mess, but at least I am distracted from the face. Tomorrow I will add/delete but not quite sure how or what I will do. Here is another piece of fabric that has been through umpteen add/deletes and I am trying to decide what is next, if anything. In the meantime, I shall go to sleep and contemplate my next steps. Perhaps I will know what to do next when I wake up.

a day off?

Today I went to the Newark Museum to print on a square of cloth for their Centennial celebration. They have invited artists to come and each print one of 100 12" squares of duck that will somehow be fastened together and hung. I brought my camera but left the card at home - ha ha - fuzzy brain is still at it. While I was in Grand Junction Jane Aldoretta told me that Jacquard had a big sale on discontinued colors of Versatex paints: the 4 oz. were $1 and the 8 oz. were $2.50. So I went to their website and called them to order what were probably some of the ugliest colors I have seen. Except for the light brown, of course, which I will use a lot: the rest were metallics. I took a jar of the brown to the museum with me, along with some Thermofax screens and a bondo scraper. There were a number of artists there but I can't imagine that they will get enough of them showing up to make 100 squares. Nice thought, though. After that gig I went directly to the studio,where I have been promising myself to go since I got home. I left it in a mess and of course, spent most of the time straightening up - without a lot of progress. Tomorrow I must order a longer table for printing and then figure out what I am going to do for storage. I fear that my lovely area in the front of the studio will get smaller. And I need shelves!! I can't stand it. I should call in a feng shui consultant. Or maybe I should just iron for a couple of days... Here is a piece of fabric I screened on late one night after my class had gone home and I was alone in Jane's studio. Bleh. I had a brilliant idea of what I should do with it, but by then I was too tired. So I brought it home with me: that was smart. I'm still too tired. The camera picked up the yellow, which the naked eye doesn't see - although I did paint that color dye on to get rid of the PINK. Maybe tomorrow I can print on it....after I figure out what I am doing for storage. Or not.

Monday, April 20, 2009

back to real life

After getting home after 11:00 last night, I stayed up till 1:30 (right-coast time) to finish a book I had bought in the Denver airport yesterday. Well written, a fascinating cultural glimpse and a mystery all rolled into one. I highly recommend it. I love when I can't put a book down. Despite having Time Zone Brain, I managed to drag myself out of the house a little after 8 this morning to catch a ride with Rachel Cochran to Joanie's for our Studio Six meeting. Although we are 12, there were only 6 of us today. Diane Savona is in Japan, Kerr Grabowski is on the road teaching, and life interfered with art for everybody else. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant meeting. Below, Joanie & Lisa are holding up the silk and paper collage that Lisa made so we can see the light coming through it. Yummy. As usual, Rachel brought a couple of in-process compositions that she is working on and wanted feedback. Everybody but me had something to say: I was too tired. I am resting from feedback today and anyway, I was busy un-picking the last few stitches from a piece I printed, layered, and stitched probably a year ago. I was never able to make it work - especially after my dear husband looked at it and said "Oh, I see a face. Look -- two eyes, a nose, a mouth!" That was It. I turned it upside down and sideways and the damn face kept staring back at me. I should probably have given it some weird name and left it alone - but instead, I am going to overprint or slice it up and reconstitute it: or both. What would YOU do?? It is midnight, the thunderstorm is over (did I mention that it is 35 degrees and pouring rain here?) and I plan to sleep late and then go to the studio tomorrow. What a thought!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

tired but happy

I'm home. The flight was fine and at least in First Class they fed us airline food. I am glad to be here - doing laundry at 11:30 pm. Thanks for all your warm and caring comments!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

a bonus vacation day

That's how I have to look at it. I am in a lovely Hilton Garden Inn in Aurora, CO or some such place - about 20 min from the Denver Airport. You might think it is Christmas from this picture, but alas, it is almost May. Yes, we missed our flight to Newark by about 5 minutes due to several things. 1) a control-freak stewardess (or whatever they call them these days) who would not let us off the plane till she was in the mood. 2) A gate change that nobody told us about: we came in at gate 46 and the flight was supposed to go out of gate 57 (according to the above-named individual) but was, instead, at gate 15 -- the other end of the terminal and too late to make, even if you were a marathon runner. 3) United Airlines did not hold the connecting flight, even though they knew there was one coming in late from GJ with passengers aboard that needed to make it. Every other flight out was delayed but this one went on the minute. God forbid they should take the passengers into consideration. I have two words for United and they are not "happy birthday." I will not bore you with the 2 hour line of frustrated passengers at the counter that purported to be United customer service. Very long story short, I got the last seat on a flight out of Denver for New York/La Guardia tomorrow at 4:21 - getting in at 10:00 - a full 24 hours later than I was supposed to land...and a 2 hour, $90 ride home. United cuts flights on the weekends: people going to Miami have to go to Los Angeles to get a connection, etc. etc. The good news is that the last seat on the plane I am on is in first class. And a family of 3 heading for EWR has to wait till Monday to get a flight so I was lucky on that count. The other good news is that the room at this hotel is beautiful, costs only $54, and has free wireless. They have this special 800 number hotline phone at the customer service area that gets you a deal on a hotel room when you are stuck because of the airline stuff. I don't normally take pix of hotel rooms, but you can tell I am desperate not to have an image-less blog post tonight. I headed for the bar but it was too high so I went out across the parking lot to a really excellent place whose name escapes me. I sat down at the bar (I like to eat at the bar when I am by myself) and was lucky enough to have two cute guys next to me whose flights were also delayed. They were friendly and it made for a pleasant couple of hours. Now, after 2 martinis, a great buffalo burger, a good coffee and a not-so-good key lime pie (what was I thinking??) I feel immensely better. Also, the desk has spare tubes of toothpaste so I can be human tomorrow. I am not due to the airport till 2:pm, so I can sleep late (if I choose) which will be the first time all week. Sometimes I think things just happen for a reason: I needed the rest. MOnday is my crit meeting at Judy's in Princeton but luckily, Rachel Cochran has offered to drive. If I had a brain I would stay home, but that would be too easy. Tune in tomorrow for the next episode.

the joys of travel

Here is the charming,friendly TSA guy at the Grand Junction airport. You can see what a good sense of humor he has. He made me take my cosmetic case out of my suitcase and he went through it to make sure I didn't have any liquids or gels over 3.5 oz. an then he made me throw my toothpaste away because the tube was too big. Can you IMAGINE?? My toothpaste tube was too big. I don't think they have enough to do here. It is not bad enough that the flight out of Grand Junction is delayed for an hour and will get into Denver about 5 minutes before my connecting flight is to leave for Newark - but I had to suffer the indignity of having my toothpaste taken away. The security people in Newark suddenly look like warm fuzzies. The terminal has six gates and this is the comfortable waiting area, which now has 16 people in it, including several children who are tossing a ball, playing catch while they wait. As you can see, there is plenty of room for that. There is also a good view of security, just outside the glass next to those sofas at the right rear of the picture. Here is the view outside the terminal window. The plane in the picture has left (obviously, not for Denver) and nothing else is around. They have just anounced that the incoming Denver flight (which will be my outgoing flight) is late and I may miss my connecting flight in Denver and have to be rebooked. Never a dull moment with air travel!

wrapping up

Today was my last day of teaching in Grand Junction and it was a lovely way to end the week. There was ample time to work/play with fabric and design, do critique, and even some sewing for those who wanted to stitch up their pieces. I asked Lynn Mattingly if I could post her three pieces based on the photo she brought with her yesterday. She was happy to give permission, but I had to promise to post a picture of her wonderful skirt, which communicates the prevailing mood in the classroom. Well, a bargain is a bargain, so here are her pieces. The idea was to use a photo as a jumping-off point but not to reproduce the picture. The black is the design wall, not a border.Terry Lee looks serious here but she was having a great time experimenting with a series she is working on: today, in earth tones. And Sandra Hoefner, who looked down just as I snapped the photo, is actually working on a piece that is on the wall behind her.One of the things we did today was to "work from the fabric." translation: use a piece of fabric as a starting point and go from there. Since nobody could make a decision about which of their fabrics to start with, I tore a piece of mine into 8 pieces and gave them a starting point. Using someone else's choice of fabric, especially in a color you would normally never work in, is a great stretching exercise...and they all rose to the occasion. Everybody was very generous with their fabrics, auditioning with each other and sharing a piece that seemed just right for someone else's piece. No pictures for another 3 weeks: they are all doing something different with the piece of cloth I gave them and they have promised to send me jpgs when they are done. I can't wait to see -- and I'll share the end results with you when I have them. In the meantime, I have my own challenge. Jeanette and I traded pieces of fabric and I need to do something with her piece, below. Tomorrow morning Sandra is picking me up and we are stopping for a while at the AQuA meeting before she takes me to the GJ airport. Keep your fingers x'd that I won't get stranded in the Denver airport. There is supposedly a snowstorm there: in NJ it is 70 degrees and sunny. Grand Junction was 40 degrees and windy. Brrrrrrrrr.

Friday, April 17, 2009

no comments necessary

There's a lot of catching up to do so I don't get too far behind, so I'm frantically writing away. Stay with me.
Beverly Hart with the fabric she was working on in yesterday's post.
Jeanette Davis' transformed light brown commercial fabric. This is one I wish I could claim I had printed.
I don't remember whose, but it's beautiful.
Maxine Buckholtz is a collage and mixed media/book artist who does not work in fabric. This is more characteristic of her work - and yes, it's also on cloth.
Today - Thursday, we had seven in the class: an intimate group that lends itself to real conversation, interchange of ideas and lots of time to lay the verbal groundwork for individual work. One of the issues was finding one's own voice; a recurring theme on several of the Internet lists...and a real concern for a lot of people. Along with that, the idea of working in a series. We are tackling both in these two days. We did a few warm-ups with small pieces done quickly and then a "what if?" critique for each person. The chemistry, respect, and trust was there from the beginning and everybody focused on doing another permutation that took into consideration some of the feedback they had gotten. By the end of the day, Lynn had completed a triptich that evolved from a photo she brought with her. Terry had done a small study and a larger variation on a theme she has wanted to follow for quite a while. And everybody else was well on the way to somewhere they might not have expected to go. Pictures when I get permission. After a too-large Mexican meal, Jane and I went out for a walk around the neighborhood. If you know me, you also know that I was ecstatic and that my inspiration folder is full.
More tomorrow.