Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TMF

Too Much Food.  That's always how it is at a seder. And after the service and the meal, who has room for dessert? Uh - everybody.
Well, almost everybody. Some people skipped the meal and opted for happy dreams instead.
 My kids made the desserts -- Anne Marie's flourless choc cake is outstanding, with fresh berries, and real whipped cream made at the last minute. Jeremy's chocolate (and white-choc) covered strawberries and marshmallows were so elegant and professional that you can't believe they are house-made. Hilary's chocolate mousse pie was a hit with Marty, and her mandel bread, chocolate-covered matzo bits and toffee were terrific. 
I made two round-trips to Brooklyn in the past 48 hours. Yesterday, I was behind this truck at a light on Flatbush Ave. Made me smile.
 
Today, stopped at another light, coming off the Manhattan Bridge I noticed this Chinatown landmark, now marred by a Starbucks.

The pouring rain let up just enough for me to drive in with minimum angst but it poured again and I was lucky to be going home in the opposite direction from a multi-car pile up on one of the NJ bridges.  I was happy to get home.

In the category of never-a-dull-moment, we will have houseguests again tomorrow night.  Our Bethesda Gillman grandkids have the week off, so they and their parents will arrive just in time for dinner (which we will order in). There is a pizza place in the next town which is making matzo pizza. Sounds vile.

The rain is supposed to go away and the weekend will be lovely.  By that time, I will be in another country and miss the few days of sun we will have had so far this year in NJ.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ode to a mango

As long as I was on the subject of kitchen tools, I got out the beautiful mango cutter that Jane Aldoretta gave me when I was teaching at her studio last year and sliced a mango I bought the other day.  When I saw this item in her kitchen, I asked what it was because I had never seen one here. So she gave it to me - and then, of course, I had to buy mangoes every so often.
  I have never been a fan of mangoes; they are normally too sweet.  But they are a good addition to black bean salad. And I had a delicious salad the other night that included mangoes, tortilla strips, and goat cheese with the greens   So I had to buy one.  This was the best mango I have ever had: it was tart instead of cloyingly sweet.  Googling the mark on the label, I discovered it was imported not from Mexico or Chile or India, but from Israel. What symmetry! What color!  I couldn't resist the photo. 
Back to my wall...

taking a break


If you've checked, you have noticed that I have not blogged for a few days. Mostly because life is too hectic but also too boring.  If you really want an update, here it is -at the risk of giving you TMI, here is my non-art related story. Start yawning!

I'm working at home when I can fit it in between must-do medical appointments and chores that must be done before I leave for Canada a week from tomorrow -- including packing supplies. Won't customs be in for a surprise when they open my big suitcase? I have one more class to pack supplies for.

Add to this, cooking for Passover which starts Monday night.  My daughter is making the seder - but I still have to cook and bring the brisket, potato kugel and charoses. This is the least of my worries.  There are some logistical issues with getting there and back, since unless we put my mother and her walker on top of the car, we have more passengers than we can carry - what with the baby's carseat.

To distract myself the other night, I somehow wandered onto a website that sells collapsible measuring cups and measuring spoons that don't separate from one another. 
How did I not know that these were two items I have desperately needed all my life?  The measuring cups have not arrived yet, but the spoons came yesterday.  Aren't they cute?
In the meantime, my housekeeper is here so I can't be in the kitchen while she is in there cleaning. Marty is home and I have warned him he had better pretend I am not here. So on that note, I had better elbow my way into the kitchen to check the brisket and then go back to work on my current fabric-related project.  If you don't hear from me for the next who-knows-how-long, don't worry. And don't forget about me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

do I hear thunder???

So it seems.  A weird end to a grim and rainy - but relatively warm - day. A thunderstorm with cats and dogs coming down noisily.  I'm waiting for Noah.

I can tell it is time to blog when I get tired of doing whatever else I am doing.  Tonight, it was thinking. I am packing my supplies and that always requires brainpower.  All used up, so you get what's left.

Happily for the artists in the PULP show that opened yesterday, the weather was fine.
Keely McCool's installation made of paper and wire and lit  from the side was the first (and most magical) piece I saw.
Keely works with fiber - leaves, twigs, pine needles, paper, wire,  - you name it -- and her work is wonderfully organic. She considers herself a sculptor. I consider her a magician.
I shot this from underneath but not from the floor, from which I would never have gotten up!
Here is one of her wall pieces.
Pam Cooper uses paper, pins, and other materials to create her wonderful artwork, which has been exhibited extensively.  I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the piece that was a dress of organdy and paper with image transfer.
It was hard to get a good picture of this airy piece that captivated everybody who walked by.  The small figures are made of twisted/crocheted wire dipped in pulp and the artist, Pamela Guenther-Duffus, doesn't have a website. She needs one, if this is any indication of the rest of her work.
Rocco Scary's work is paper, metal, paint, - in a nutshell, mixed media.  Very urban and very interesting.

There was a lot more work in this wonderful show of 15 artists but Marty was tired, so we left early. 

Rachel Leibman has a wonderful eye and curated one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. The show is up till April 16 and gallery is open Fri,Sat, Sun from 1-4. (35 min by train from NYC and 6 blocks from the station)  Directions here.
Go if you can!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

potpourri

It's Saturday night -although yesterday also felt like Saturday. It has been busy around here. Allergy season has started but the weather has been fine for the past two days.

Suffice it to say that Friday (alias Saturday #1) was another medical merry-go-round with a few errands thrown in for good measure.  Not enough time to go to the studio but I did work a bit at home, creating some other fun/cool elements with the leftovers from the yellow and blue star block.

Then, it was off to the opening of Strong Women - the art exhibit at the Newark School of the Arts.  I was really honored to havebeen asked to be with so many accomplished (and strong) women artists and I was especially happy because mine was the only fiber piece amongst the paintings, drawings, prints and collages.  The curator
specifically wanted to include a fiber piece to show that it is as valid an art form as the other mediums. Because of the  exhibit's subject, she selected this piece, which pays homage to the strong women in my family who emigrated to a foreign land -- unknown territory -- to start anew. And to the strong women who stayed and perished.  The show included work from 29 artists and was, in fact, very strong!

After the opening, two of my studio mates and I went out for drinks and dinner in Newark's Ironbound, the Portugese section of the city, loaded with wonderful Spanish and Portugese restaurants.  Casa Vasca, actually a Basque restaurant, served the best paella I've ever had. Will return!

Today, trek to Brooklyn to see Miss Emma. I made a wrong turn(made the mistake of following the sign that said "Brooklyn" and ended up driving in circles in parts of Chinatown I never knew existed. Remind me not to believe the signs.  To get to Brooklyn, I need to follow the sign that says "Uptown."  This doesn't make any sense, but it works.

You've heard of garage sale, yard sale, house sale, estate sale, boot sale (in the U.K.), sidewalk sale? Well, this is New York and they call it a...
The main attraction was not the sidewalk/fence/stoop sale.
 At least I'm not the only one in the family with two chins.
I hated to leave but we had to get home to see my mother. Back on Canal Street heading toward the Holland Tunnel, traffic was stopped enough for me to shoot this.
There was a time you would never have seen butts like that on mannequins.  But fashion on Canal St. is catching up to real life. I'm wondering who the intended audience is for that black and white dress.

Tomorrow - bill-paying and then another opening of a show which promises to be extremely interesting.  My friend Rachel Leibman is guest curator for this exhibit. 
PULP - Artworks made of Paper
Opening 1-4 pm at Arts Guild New Jersey
1670 Irving St.
Rahway, NJ
The exhibit runs March 19 – April 15
If I can get permission from some of the artists, I'll post pix tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gone!

 The star blocks are gone and so is my brain. While I was taking out the sashing, I stabbed myself with a seam ripper this morning. Luckily, I was in the doctor's office so they had band aids right there.  That's the sashing, which I realized as I was staring at it, was leftover fabric from probably the first maternity garment I sewed for myself in 1966: a sleeveless tent of some sort to get me through the summer. Ten years later, the excess finally got used in this quilt top.

I thought I had eight more blocks, I actually had ten - so everybody who asked for one (even if I thought I was out) will get one.  I sent you an e-mail with the guidelines, just so you wouldn't have to keep going back to yesterday's post.

It is ungodly late, so I will just show you that the block wasn't quite as architectural by the time I sewed it together.
 Right now, it's on my wall, turned on its side. 
I am going to turn on my side, too, since it is 2:30 a.m.  This one hour thing is really messing me up - and I have an early meeting tomorrow.  I used to go to sleep at 10:00 every night, even in college.  How times change -- or how time changes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I've got takers

So far, four five people have asked for one of these 1970's Ohio Star visions of loveliness to deconstruct/cut/paste/rescue.  I'm sitting with my seam ripper, separating them and have four three more I can part with if you wanna play.

A few guidelines (I don't do rules, as you know).
1.  Do not try to put it together after midnight when you have had a long day.  You will have to take it apart again. Ask me how I know.

2.  The blue is a 65/35 poly-cotton  blend so don't bother overdyeing it.

3. You don't have to use every tiny bit of the block (although if you do, it would be nice) but use enough so we know it's in there someplace without having to get out a magnifying glass.  Otherwise, up to you what you do with it or combine it with.

4. Send me a jpg by April 27 -- drop dead date when I post is April 30th.

I'll keep the seam ripper out in case anybody else feels either creative or desperate for any excuse to procrastinate what you should be doing instead.

P.S. don't use a really hot iron.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

rearranging & juxtaposition

Ok, Barbara -those two words of yours in the comment on yesterday's post hit the nail on the head.  It's all about that.
This is true whether we're working on something new or something we have done that we're not happy with - or given up on in the middle. I would call it editing -- and we do it with our writing, so why not with our visuals?

I really didn't think it was worth my time to redo the whole quilt but I did take one block and slice it randomly last night. I added a strip or two and then tonight, took a couple of the other parts of the block, combined them with some leftovers from my treasure box and in a few minutes, without planning, voilĂ :
From this..(well, a different block but same batch)  
to this...
Hmmm..it has possibilities.  Anybody want one of these blocks to play with?  See what you can do to deconstruct and improve it?  Let me know; I have a whole quilt top full of them. How can you resist?  We'll post 'em all here.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

more on knitted trees & trunk treasures


NJ isn't the only place with mad knitters. I got a delightful email from Amy Stockwell, a former student of mine who lives in Decatur, IL. Decatur, apparently has a better sense of joy and humor than Cape May, NJ! Here is Amy's tree hugger on the left and the recent article from the Decatur paper is here. Dollars to doughnuts, the Decatur artists didn't have to pay for permits. Did they, Amy?

This is my pink and brown log cabin top, BTW. Not bad from a distance.

I did say I'd show you what else I found in my trunk - and I have to admit I can't chop these up.  Dozens and dozens of wonderful vintage blocks from 1880s-1930s or '40s. I bought them in Florida many years ago, intending to sell them. Maybe I will do that now. Or not.
Most are machine pieced, proving that machine piecing was in use at the turn of the (last) century. No 1/4" seam for those women! Most are more like 1/8" Quite a few are hand-pieced, even within the same batch.
I don't feel too bad because those last two are sort of ugly - but they might make a great quilt put together. Maybe I'll play with them and see.

Meanwhile, I have already slashed into one of those yellow and blue star beauties from yesterday and am not going to bed tonight till I see what I can do (if anything) with it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

longer days ahead

Hooray - spring ahead tonight!  Of course, there is a roaring rain and wind storm out there, with 60 mph winds predicted.
Branches down when I went out late this afternoon to see my mother -- and some flooding.  I was supposed to go to an art opening tonight but once I was in, I was IN.  And the town has cancelled tomorrow's St. P. day parade due to weather.

All this talk about UFOs made me think I should open the trunk next to my chair and see what was in there.  AHA! Just as I suspected - some pieces filed under "What was I Thinking??"  Oops - now that I've unearthed them, I can't ignore them. Early 1970's era calicos and poly/cotton that smells vile. Are you ready??
                        notice how my toes blend right in.
I either stopped before I finished or decided it was so ugly I should take it apart.  The blue is the offending blend - can you see the shine?

But WAIT - there's more!!  A Log Cabin that I started to take apart (oh,all that work:-(((.  I must have gotten a real bargain on the bright blue poly/cotton. 
   What, indeed, was I thinking??? Now I'm thinking - can these UFOs be saved? And is it even worth it to try?

I am turning the clock ahead so it is after midnight and will try for a night's sleep  Tomorrow, I'll show you some of the good things I found in the trunk.