Saturday, July 30, 2005

checking in

So much for puttering in the studio during this past week. I did sit on the shady deck with a view of the woods with my laptop and ice water with lime (I have to use up all those limes we bought at Costco last weekend). Two days of bliss while I worked on a project that has been on the back burner for eons. A working 'vacation' and it felt great. By Thursday I felt well enough to go to Borders, where I bought one of Peter Lovesey's British police procedurals featuring detective Peter Diamond. Put Lovesey on you list of mystery authors to check out. He writes so well and as soon as I finish here, it's back to the book! While I was out, I nipped into Bed, Bath, and Beyond, looking for irons. It was so confusing that I ended up without one. I mean, what is the difference between the $19.99 and the 29.99 iron? Both allegedly have the same features "steam, teflon plate, auto shut off, blah blah blah." Ditto for the $69.99 one. And when I asked the store employee to explain the difference, he read me what it said on the box. DUH. But I did buy this teensy, cute thing that I thought might work as a waxpot for my tjantings.I think it takes too long to melt the wax, however, because it is a SLOW cooker- so I heated it on my electric griddle contraption and transferred it, where it stayed at a steady temp. But it is annoying to have to do this.


While I was at it, I changed the sheets on my printing table. I realized, for the 99th time, that they are probably more interesting than many of the pieces I print on top of them. This is not a good example, but it's what I have at hand. An archeological record, actually. I printed the silk for my daughter's chuppah (wedding canopy) on this one...and I still think that the tree of life looks like the artichoke of life. Oh, well. This time, instead of a cotton/poly sheet, I laid down a piece of PFD cotton to absorb my dyes and paints under the REAL pieces I print. Will I get two for the price of one? Stay tuned.

Monday, July 25, 2005

waxing and waning

The waning refers to me: fading fast. Woke up with bronchitis and am now on a diet of magic pills and potions designed to make me feel better. And am under house arrest for 3 days. Oh, good. That means I actually have an excuse to stay in and putter in the studio instead of running around. Maybe tomorrow I'll even feel up to puttering. The waxing -- well, this morning I ironed out the wax from several pieces of batik I had made earlier. The one on the upper left is before I added another layer of wax and more dye. The one immediately below is after I added wax with some found objects and an actual antique tjap that a sweet neighbor gave me a couple of years ago. This is the first time I have used it. I shall send her a piece of the cloth so she can see what I have done with her gift. I'm pretty pleased with the other results, too -- considering that I don't know what I am doing but am just experimenting. Here is another one I'm happy with. So now the 50 cent question: WHAT DO I DO WITH THESE? Any brilliant ideas?

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Here is the piece in process that I began in the workshop I taught last week. And then I thought maybe it would look better if I turned it upside down. This is how it is sitting on my design wall at the moment, while I avoid the cleanup project I spoke about in my last post. Today, a neighbor doing a construction survey came in to look at the place and while he was too polite to gasp when he looked at my studio, he looked as though he would like to flee . He was, however, quite taken with one section of my studio. It seems to make everyone smile, even me. Here's the story: one day I came in and put a cup of tea down on the antique trunk. Or so I thought. I missed, and as my mug flew down to the floor, its contents flew upwards, leaving little brown spots on the ceiling. Was I about to re-paint the entire ceiling? No way. I just got my brushes, acrylic paints, a ladder, and went to work. It makes me happy to look at it and if I ever get around to doing the same thing to cover the stains from the roof leak and the bathroom leak on other parts of the ceiling, maybe I'll have something. In the meantime, when I sit in my chair with my feet on the ottoman and look up from blogging on my laptop, I try to focus on what you see above these words instead of the ugly blots elsewhere.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

studio blues

By now you have seen enough pictures of my studio to know that this is what it looks like after several hours of cleaning up.But I'm making progress. I've decided that if I won last night's megamillion lottery I will buy another condo in this development and use it as a studio. If I didn't't win the lottery, I still intend to hire somebody to come in and deal with my lack of storage. Probably not till November. It's pretty obvious that there is no spot to work here -- but I did manage to play a little bit last week while I was teaching a workshop (so I could share with the class what happens when you just start putting fabrics together intuitively. They brought their own scraps, I bought some of mine, and also some strips of Helene Davis' gorgeous fabrics which I shared in case they needed something else to make the piece work. People fought over them and I had to hide the bag so I would have some left for myself. We did a bit of "where do I go from here?" group crit with each of their work. Groupthink -- really an interesting experience, since none of the 7 people in the workshop belongs to a crit group and all of them have worked traditionally and are now tired of using somebody else's patterns. One of the exercises they did was to use a visual image as a jumping-off place to interpret or as inspiration. Here is one that conveys the feeling without being literal. And here is another, based on a photo I took in London last year of a building reflected in another building. They were all terrific and it gave me a boost and motivation to clean up the mess at the top and get myself working.

Monday, July 18, 2005

word games

I was so impressed with the diversity of work in yesterday's creativity workshop, Jump-starting the Art Quilt, that I have to show you one group of pieces in particular. I gave everybody the same word as a jumping-off point and then they had limited time to start a piece inspired by that word. Take a look at how different these four pieces are from one another!

Here is Michelle Legault with her piece. She had driven down from northern Vermont with her mom, Paulette.

Below, Karen Bettencourt with her piece based on the same word.

And finally, Sheri Cooper's take on it.

The pieces are so varied because we did some mind-mapping and everybody reached totally different places with that exercise! Anybody care to take a guess what the word was?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saturday's class

What fun! We painted, printed, screened, thermofax'd, stamped,rubbed, sprayed, and wrote. Everybody made lots of fabric, most of which is drying as we speak. Here is Jennifer Beaven with the result of her rubbings. Doesn't she look happy? Tomorrow I will take more pictures of the artists and their fabrics - before and after they use them. Meantime, I'm off to get my beauty sleep.

Friday, July 15, 2005

hello from Lowell

I'm in Lowell, MA and will shortly turn in for the evening so I can be perky for tomorrow's class. Made the trip in 4-1/2 hours from NJ, despite the fact that the entire planet was on the road heading northeast for the weekend. Boston? The Cape? The Green Mountains? Aarrgggh. Look at these shelves!! Had some playtime this afternoon after I arrived at Friends Fabric Art - doing more experimenting with soy wax and going back into some pieces that were not particularly successful the first time around. Friends is an absolute paradise for surface designers -- you can come here and pay by the hour to use their supplies: dyes, paints, you name it! And you can purchase almost anything you can think of. They have the most delicious hand dyed threads and other goodies - and the most interesting supply of books I have seen anywhere. We're printing with found objects tomorrow. I'll try to remember to take some pix.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

heliotropic something-or-other

I forget the exact phrase, but it means when plants turn themselves around to face toward the sun. At the wonderful Mass MOCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, there is a display of trees which have been planted in pots hanging upside down. Wouldn't you know it? The trees, planted upside down, are curving around and growing up. My husband is fascinated with this - it is almost the only thing he remembers from our memorable day there a couple of years ago. "So why?", you might wonder, "is she talking about this non-art-related subject? "Because I planted all the flowers in my garden facing the street. And instead, they are all growing facing the driveway - so everything in my front yard faces sideways. My friend Helene, the garden maven, explained that this is because they grow toward the morning sun, which is east. My front yard faces south. I have a black thumb, so I am happy that they grow at all, no matter which direction they face.

the accidental fabric

Last night was up till 3:00 playing in the studio and blogging (tsk tsk) and when i went to bed, I was up for the rest of the night. The French call it 'la nuit blanche' - I love that phrase, it is so descriptive. Anyway, I meant to post a picture of this fabric which I printed when I was demonstrating the art of screening with thickened dyes to Els van Baarle. I pulled 3 or 4 prints and they are similar but not exact. Now, I have to figure out how to use the fabric because I really don't love white backgrounds. They stick out like sore thumbs in most pieces, drawing too much attention to themselves. But hey, maybe I can find a way to use it appropriately -- in a piece called "Sore Thumb." Here is part of a second, slightly different print made from the same screen.

why I love to blog

Because I can share stuff like this piece on the right. Yep, yesterday's imposter tree made into a screen. It is printed with thickened dye onto paper towels which I used to mop up dye when I was doing my batik workshop with Els van Baarle last month. Good quality paper towels are wonderful to work with. Not to mention that they are inexpensive materials. Tonight is the first night since late May that I have actually unwound and spent time playing. It is very late and I have to get up early tomorrow, but I don't care. I needed this studio time like a sushi addict needs raw fish. These two pieces were done with dyes, paints and wax on mulberry paper. They both started out using the same element but took slightly different paths. I'll try to post tomorrow again. I'm taking my laptop to Lowell, MA when I teach this weekend and am hoping for WiFi so I can keep you up to date.

Monday, July 11, 2005

what is it?

The first time I saw one of these, I was driving up the Garden State Parkway and there it was, amongst a clump of trees. It creeped me out. It looked like something sinister; something that was pretending to be a tree but wasn't a tree. Was it an alien? Was it an escapee from Burnham Woods? Was it radioactive? Ha! All of the above. A cell phone tower pretending to be a tree. It didn't fool me, of course. And it probably didn't fool anybody else. So why bother? For a while, I declined to look at it when I drove by. But then, clones of it started appearing everywhere. This one is right near my house and it also creeps me out, although it is not quite as weird as the first one I saw. I would rather see a naked cell tower than one of these costumed poles. Eeewww. On the other hand, it is potential artwork. Wouldn't the black and white variation make a great screen?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

hello again

Before I forget why I started this blog, I thought I'd better post some art. This piece was an afterthought in Fran Skiles' workshop and not at all part of what we were working on all week. It started as the piece of waxed paper on which I was drying some canvas I had painted. I liked it so well that I decided to use it as a base for something. I collaged a piece of someone else's discarded letter I had fished out of the trash can in the room, added some ink and some acrylic paint, glued it to some canvas - and that's it. When we went around the room doing crit at the end, this was one of two that everybody agreed they liked best. go figure. One of the artists in the group -- actually, a book arts person who does fabulous things with paper -- had her head in the garbage can every day and recycled our thrown-away scraps into wonderful pieces. A kindred 'found objects' spirit. Thanks for all your well-wishing messages. As the week winds down, I should have time to come up for air and prepare for the workshops I'm teaching next weekend (16-17) at Friends Fabric Art in Lowell MA. For now, bed.

Monday, July 04, 2005

happy 4th

So I'm sitting out on the deck loooking at the woods behind my condo, trying not to spill my gin & tonic on the keyboard as I unwind. This has been a week I would not wish on anyone (well, at least anyone I like). Never again will I laugh at the phrase "it's not brain surgery." It was. Twice in 36 hours. And today, miraculously, my mother is sitting up in a chair looking at the boats on the Hudson from her hotel - uh - hospital -- room, and complaining about the food. I don't blame her. Disgusting. Get this: the doctors and nurses encourage the families to bring in food from outside so that the patients will want to eat. But enough about this: I imagine there will be enough fodder for some interesting artwork one of these days. But not yet. I found an eggplant that had not yet completely rotted (see an earlier post) in the week I've been pretty much living at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in NYc. Put it on the grill and will hope to make baba ganouj tonight. I found this great recipe for syrian thingies made from ground beef, allspice, cinnamon, hot pepper, lemon, etc. and they are in the fridge on the skewers my ex-husband brought home from Turkey 35 or 40 years ago. But I digress... Time to take the eggplant off the grill and put the syrian thingies on. I will return at some point when I come up for air. Love to all of you. R.

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type. Ye p, soup weather and it's ...