Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bead Creative

I just got an e-mail from Nancy Eha that her new book, Bead Creative Art Quilts, is hot off the press! If you are into beads, you know that Nancy does gorgeous work - and I'm really flattered that she invited me to be part of her new book. Am I a beader? No way. But one of my pieces is in her book and I'm very pleased. Nancy took one of my quilts - Urban Garden - and beaded it for her book. Here is the "before." I have no idea of what the 'after' looks like, so I'm eager to see the photo. I'm also pleased that Nancy has bought my quilt for her own collection -- but of course, it is now beaded.

focal point

This is a finished piece. Or is it?
It is quilted. It is faced. It is hanging on my wall. It is lively. It is yardage. I can't seem to find the focal point I thought was there when I made the piece. And I'm not sure whether I can fix it or whether I should just name it and leave it alone. It's trying to tell me something, but I don't quite know what. And if it was talking before I finished it, I didn't hear it. If this were your piece, what would you do? Marty said I should just write FOCAL POINT in big letters and draw an arrow pointing to where I want people to look. Ya know, he might just have something there.

I weep for Wendy

I gasped as I saw the front page of this morning's NY Times -- Wendy Wasserstein is dead at age 55 of lymphoma. It can't be! But it is. I have felt sad all day. But it wasn't until I read the brief and very personal editorial tonight at dinner that I wept. I am mourning as I write. While I only met Wendy once, when she spoke to the audience after we watched her early play "Uncommon Women and Others," I feel as though I have lost someone I knew. She graduated from Mount Holyoke 8 years behind me, and "Uncommon Women" was how we referred to ourselves at Holyoke. The play was her senior thesis and it covered familiar ground. She and I had, after all, lived in some of the same dorms, had shared many of the same experiences and professors - and I, like so many others who had gone to a 'girls' college in the mid 20th century, understood so many of the experiences her plays were based on. "The Heidi Chronicles," dealt with all-too-familiar issues to those of us who came of age in those years...and those who are still coming of age. Wendy was funny, smart, independent, and talented beyond belief. Famous, yes -- but always approachable and down-to-earth. I am bereft.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

the last word

I knew this would happen. The place is so peaceful and neat that I just want to sit here and stare into space. Or maybe that's because I'm too tired to do anything else.Just for the record, and I won't bore you with it again (for a while). Here are a few shots of my neat room. Of course, I don't know where anything is...but it looks nice. Any bets on how long this will last??

Friday, January 27, 2006

I am still ironing

and I am still sorting scraps of all sizes. Remind me not to hire a space consultant again for another decade. When I am finished and can post about something some more interesting, I will.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mrs. Closet

I spent the day with Mrs. Closet, my space consulatant. I probably should call her Dr. Closet, since she looked at my studio and diagnosed both it and me with the same serious disease. However, you have seen pictures of my workspace so you can easily imagine that the cure is not so easy. To begin the long road to a cure, the cheerful Mrs. Closet insisted that we leave the house and make some purchases. She took me to Drug Fair, where we stocked up on plastic shoe-boxes and 12 quart containers. Then, on to Staples to buy more milk box-type bins that stack and have wheels. (see post-modern sculpture on left). After a few more errands and a divine Indian lunch where we ate far too much, Mrs. Closet and I came back to start the real work of the day: REORGANIZING. Chore #1: Color-coordinate the containers. Mrs. C. insisted that I stack 3 white containers together so they would at least give the illusion of being organized. She had also insisted I purchase containers in the same silver as the two I already had -- for the same reason. Much as I dislike admitting it, she had the right idea: the room looked better as soon as I stacked like color bins together. Chore #2: Empty all the bins, iron and sort the fabric. Put into shoe boxes and 12 quart containers. Do you think this is EASY?? Mrs. C. had the easy part: taking out the bits of fabric and handing them to me. While I was sorting, I was putting fabrics on the wall. This is how my new work emerges. Chore . #3: While you are sorting, TOSS the horrible ones. This was easy. Trust me, there were some real dogs in there. They are woofing away in big black garbage bags. #4: Make a "Can this fabric be saved?" pile and send them to rehab. This, too, was easy. I have a container overflowing with fabric that needs therapyI will not bore you with another picture. Tomorrow, Helene and I are going to see the Rauschenberg exhibit at the Met -- a much needed detour from the path Mrs. Closet has set me on. And then, I can continue the cure over the weekend ahead. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 23, 2006

play day in my basement

Saturday was a day of pure pleasure -- working with dyes, wax, and screens in my downstaiars studio. Here I am, applying dye to a piece I had waxed. Try to ignore the mess in the background - LOL. Linda Colsh, Helene Davis and I tripped over one another in this small space but somehow managed to make some fabulous pieces of fabric. It was a real collaborative effort: here is Linda adding wax with my tjap to a piece of Helene's hand-dyed cotton. Here's Helene ironing her fabric, which is pictured below before she ironed out the wax.

We all took turns using some of the same tjaps and dyes but it is amazing how differently our pieces turned out. Linda left for home yesterday and I forgot to take pictures of her results, but here is my fabric from above combined with a piece of scrap I had lying around, to which I had applied some paint. Linda added some wax and mopped up with random dyes and I put them together for this result:

One more thing. Here is the piece by Linda Colsh that is now hanging on my studio wall.

Aren't I lucky?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

a glorious week

Diane Savona, Cathy Kleeman, Judy Langille at Chez Gillman
No, I haven't abandoned you. I've been so busy with my wonderful houseguests Helene Davis and Linda Colsh (yes, Lisa Procrastionator, I did say 'hello' for you) that I have barely had time to read my e-mail, let alone post to my blog. I have missed you all - but I'm catching up tonight. Last Thurs, Studio Six and guests met at my house and it was a fabulous day!! Here are Diane, Cathy, and Judy, looking very serious between laughs! And here are some pictures a few of the the regulars. Joanie couldn't come, Joan Dreyer was stitching on one of her vessels but I didn't get a picture, and I was too busy with the camera and playing hostess. Diane Savona and one of her latest pieces.
Rachel Cochran & "Blueprint" - almost done
Judy Langille & Torn Forms #?
Then, there were the guests! Helene brought her gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics, which went like hotcakes. We were all spoiled when Helene lived her because she brought fabrics to every meeting and we could stock up every time. Here's just one yummy piece that was sold before I could grab it. Because Helene and Linda were here for a special visit, we invited their good friends as special guests - and it was great! Here is Cathy Kleeman, who drove up from Maryland for the event and stayed over at my house on Thursday night to spend extra time with Linda.

Cathy Kleeman with "Hardware"

Then we have the multi-talented Randy Keenan, who is not only a fiber and book artist, but an extraordinary gardener. Here she is,explaining how she does her fabric collages. And here is a better look at another.

Below, Helene and Rachel are obviously captivated by something or someone.

Maybe it was Helene's co-guest-of-honor, Linda Colsh, who came all the way from Brussels for the opening of the juried SAQA exhibit at the NoHo Gallery in New York City. Her piece, Mole & Henge, was on the postcard and in the ads which appeared in Art & Antiques magazine, as well as American Craft and others. Here she is showing us one of her to-die-for small pieces. Linda owns my piece, Urban Renewal, which she purchased some years ago - and I am honored to be in her collection. As of this weekend, I now own one of her pieces, which joins work by Laura Cater-Woods, Nikki Bonnet, Helene Davis, Claire Fenton, Jette Clover, and Marlene Cohen.

I still have to take a picture of the new piece, which I will post in next entry. For now, this is probably enough for you to read at one sitting.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I promise to post soon

It's been nonstop since Helene arrived and I have neither time nor pix (yet) to post. We went to the VIP opening on Tuesday night at the NoHo Gallery in Chelsea, which was a very nice exhibit. There is a public opening tonight and another artist's reception on Saturday night, so if you are near NY City and love art quillts, you should go. The gallery space is small, so the 12 pieces of the show were just about all that would fit without being crowded. We walked and walked, from the Port Authority bus terminal to Chelsea, then around to a lot of galleries on 25th St. There was some wonderful art and some that you wouldn't hang in your garage - we just laughed and laughed! I hate to say that the worst art was in one of the 'vanity' galleries with a very well known name. Helene and I had a fabulous day running errands yesterday and having the most divine Indian food for luch - and later in the day we heated up the wax pot and went to work. Today, Linda Colsh is coming to stay for the rest of the week, and Cathy Kleeman will stay tonight. Our crit group and guests are meeting here today and I promise to take pictures of various and sundry and post them tonight.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Today it was 60 degrees. This is what happens when they put a big article in the paper saying what an unseasonably warm January it has been! Yes, those are snowflakes on my lens and this is the view from my front door at 11:30 Saturday night. The snow is supposed to clear tomorrow,which I hope it does because my friend Linda Colsh from Brussels is flying into Newark Airport . I spent some time in the studio today putting together the piece on the wall. Of course, it never goes together exactly the way you think it will, but it is coming along nicely. And here is a small piece (about 12"x14" unfinished) I put together the other day, which will sit here forever because I cannot decide how to quilt it. What else is new?

Today, we finally hung some of the art that has been sitting around on the floor since we painted a year ago. And tomorrow, I have to get my 30 quilts off the dining room table, rolled up, and stored because I am having house guests and crit meeting here this week. Linda is coming in from Brussels for the opening at the NoHo Gallery in Chelsea, Helene is coming in from Paducah to see Linda -- and she's bringing fabric - hooray! I should have plenty of pictures to post as the week progresses. Now - off to get my beauty sleep...

Friday, January 13, 2006

another day in paradise

Paradise, being my studio. It's been a whole week of feeling as though I am on vacation: no obligations to anyone else, no appointments, no hassles, and not one message on the answering machine. Rare and precious. Time for creativity, time for lunch and tea with good friends, and even time to bake. Renewal of spirit -- now all I need is a week at a spa so my body can be renewed, as well. Then we have renewal of wardrobe. Notice I did not say NEW wardrobe. I tackled a shirt that had started as a lovely cream color. When it became somewhat yecchy, I dyed it a pale blue. But after a while, even that didn't help. Cut to yesterday: triage for the pale blue t-shirt with stains of unknown origin on it. I batik'd it with one of the tjaps I acquired recently, and then painted some black and indigo dyes on it. Here it is, on my favorite model. It is actually the perfect shade of indigo for my new, $15.99 designer jeans from Costco. As we were leaving to go out for Friday night martinis and dinner at our favorite neighborhood place, I was a study in blue - including last winter's big purchase: my light blue shearling clogs from Cole Haan. It occured to me briefly that the shirt and jeans were better suited to a person half my age than to an old person like me. And then the thought was gone. Who cares? (aside from my mother, who recently asked me "are those the ONLY clothes you have?"). The answer, of course, was yes. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


...I was pretty productive. This morning, I deconstructed the piece I had sewn together and decided was not working. The pictures on the blog a few days ago looked great while the piece was in process, but by the time I had put it together something was wrong. It was too neat, there were too many seams, and it was divided too evenly into vertical thirds with too many horizontal lines. I didn't look like me -- or feel like mine. So, I am in the process of rearranging and editing to make it feel like my work. I am much happier with it. Here is a picture of it -- in process -- redux. Tonight I ironed and steamed a drop cloth that was on my batik table. I had painted it with whatever leftover dyes I had from another project. Rather haphazardly, I might add. Steamed & washed - it has some really nice bits.

Then again, nothing is perfect. I will probably go back into this section. But not tonight.Tonight, I was listening incredulously to the thunder. Who ever heard of a thunderstorm in January, in NEW JERSEY? It has stopped now, but sometimes I think the whole world is turning upside down.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

#49 - draw your fridge

Now this is really embarrassing. First of all, it was really difficult for me to draw this. Second of all, it looks like a lot of butter, eggs,mayo, and cheese counterblanced by tons of nonfat yogurt. Yep. And lots of coffee - there is more in the freezer. What I could not fit into the drawing were the jars of harissa, tahini, tandoori paste, calamatas, bruschetta, ginger marmalade, branston pickle, tamarind paste, Maille moutarde, and assorted marinated thingies. And I regret that I was unable to draw the penicillin that is undoubtedly growing in several containers of unidentified contents. You'll have to imagine it. (optional: click on image to enlarge).

Oh, I forgot

How did I leave these off the list? The most useful items of all: 3 feng shui compasses!

morning in the studio

This may not look like creative work to you, but trust me: I have to be very creative to figure out what to do with all this stuff - and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have a couple of those narrow 4 drawer rolling thingies that I keep under my table. That means I have 8 junk drawers. Eight - count 'em!!This is junk-drawer cleaning season and instead of starting in the kitchen, I started here. It would have been easier to start in the kitchen.The art supplies are happily settled back in their respective places. A few things need to go down to the print studio: 2 bags of disposable rubber gloves (why don't I dispose of them?), some household objects that are good for printing, a hair dryer (for drying screens) and a bag full of water-soluble oil paints for printmaking. It is that stuff above that I can't figure out what to do with. Here is a partial list of goodies I found.
  • 2 tjantings that have been missing for months
  • 4 Olfa blades, still in packages - including one for a size I don't own
  • 12 rolls of assorted tapes: duct, packing, foil, masking, double-stick carpet, artist's tape, blue painter's tape. All partially used.
  • A receipt from J.Jill from 2004 for'sunsplash flip flops.' HUH??
  • a bottle of liquid paper white-out
  • 3 small calculators
  • 5 assorted metal tips
  • a packet of disposable ear plugs
  • a block of wood
  • a scrub brush for dishes.. and THIS.
    Does anybody know what UHU tac is or why I would have bought it???
  • Well, I have one more empty drawer: I think I'll throw everything I don't know what to do with into that drawer. Then I can get on with my day.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    tagged and so forth

    I've been tagged, so here's a bunch of information you really need to know. Four Jobs You've Had: French teacher Promotion Director for a computer magazine Image consultant/personal shopper (the most fun!) Executive coach & career transition counselor (for people who have been fired/downsized) Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over: On the Waterfront One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (I already saw it 27 times) Top Hat (anything with Fred Astaire - see below) On the Beach Four Places You've Lived Montclair, NJ Livingston, NJ Boulder, CO West Orange, NJ Four TV Shows you love to Watch: I don't watch tv, so... None None None None Four Places You've Been on Vacation: Paris Venice London San Francisco Four Websites You Visit Every Day: (blogs) my own: http://studio78notes.blogspot.com From the Sketchbook: http://clairefenton.blogspot.com/ Handmaiden: http://gabrielleswain.blogspot.com/ Everyday Matters: http://www.dannygregory.com/ Four Of Your Favorite Foods: chana chat (or anything Indian) New York strip steak-RARE calamata olives (preferably in a martini) taramosalata Four Places You'd Rather Be: Boulder, CO. Paris Palm Beach New York City Four Albums You Can't Live Without: Julliard String Quartet: Dvorak String Quartet #12 & Piano quintet Op 81 Julliard String Quartet: Mendelssohn String Quartet in E-flat Major; String Quartet in A Minor Petersen Quartett: Beethoven String Quartets: Op 18 #6, #2, Op 135 Jerusalem Quartet: Hayden Quartets #5, #2, #1 Four People You'll Pass This On To: Claire Mary Frances Annabel

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    work in process

    This afternoon's output. I am not finished yet. The digital camera enables me to see what I am doing. Especially since every piece is pinned to the wall and can't be moved.
    Here it is upside down, or right-side up. Ok. Back to work.

    happiness is...

    ...a pile of Helene Davis' hand-dyed fabrics. What could be more yummy than a pile of her strips to choose from? Like being in a candy store, only better. I dumped a whole bin onto the table yesterday, thinking I would iron them. Instead, I am sewing some of them together and throwing them at the piece I have burgeoning on the wall. (do pieces burgeon?) I will eventually post a few pix of the piece in process. Meantime, here is something else yummy. Full of fiber and anti-oxidants. Seriously. Because it is pure dark chocolate. I got the recipe in an e-mail from the South Beach Diet and made it last night. Of course, I used luxurious, expensive Scharffen Berger chocolate from Whole Foods because I thought it would be more healthful. (yeah, right). But you can (and probably should) make this with plain old bittersweet (or semi-sweet) Bakers chocolate from the regular supermarket. Recipe follows - and it is a no-brainer. Eating the stuff is also a no-brainer.

    Melt 12 squares of semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate and add 1 cup of shelled pistachios. (the point is 12 oz. of choc. You could probably use a bag of chocolate chips, but it won't be as good for you as this is). Spread on waxed paper on cookie sheet and put in fridge till it hardens. Break into pieces and eat. I am writing this at 6:am Sunday. It is still pitch dark outside. Finished sleeping at 4 and now that I have spent 2 hours reading my e-mail, other people's blogs, and doing my own, I am going to make a pot of coffee and start the day. Maybe I can actually accomplish something. I will check in again later.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    studio day

    Finally! I got the thing quilted - it only took me thousands of hours - most of the afternoon and evening of slogging along. The stitching is finished and now I have to decide how to finish the edges. You may be able to see it better if you click on it to enlarge-- I am looking at it on my laptop, which is a bit difficult. I stopped binding my quilts years ago, but this may need something and I have an idea I will experiment with tomorrow. Here is a detail. I did take a walk this afternoon, around 4:00. It was COLD! But I put on the sneakers and two sweatshirts and fleece gloves and got my heart rate up. Good thing, too, because we went out for drinks & dinner tonight. Another studio day tomorrow? I hope so.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    was that me at the sewing machine?

    Well, I spent more time picking out stitches than putting 'em in. I intensely dislike this part of the work but don't feel I have a choice about doing it. I always put it off as long as possible. This is a whole cloth piece. Last week, my crit group all had suggestions about how I should quilt it. I don't remember what they were, but I'm doing what comes naturally. (should I be singing this?). Here are a few bits. The problem is, I don't know how to make my digital camera get close-ups that are sharp so you can see the stitching. On the other hand, maybe it is better that way. Almost midnight. Tomorrow I have my five year checkup so I had better get a good night's sleep.

    week #48 drawing, etc.

    I've resolved to get back into the walking routine (although that r-word is one of my least favorite words). So, here is my resolution drawing.

    In case you don't recognize it, it is a sneaker. I hate sneakers. I would much rather walk in my Birks or my Arches (sent back two pair to Zappos today because one was too big and one was too small. I need to order one that is just right).

    Enough. I am about to go upstairs and sit at the - gasp - sewing machine for a while. I may check in later if I accomplish anything nearly as worthwhile as all of my fellow bloggers seem to do. Oh, the pressure!!!

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    A postmodern day for the soul

    One of my resolutions was to take 2 days in the studio and one for the soul (of course, they could be the same thing, depending). So,today my friend Seema and I went to see an exhibit at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts Gallery called “How American Women Artists Invented Postmodernism, 1970-1975." It was art from the early '70s by "Revolutionary Feminists" including Judy Chicago, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Joan Snyder, and others. Sculpture, installation, video, painting, lithographs, and some other things that I can't quite remember. Some of it was boring, some was outrageous, and some of it seemed very dated, given the changes in the last 30 years. But interesting. Of course, since I have no idea how you define "postmodernism," I did a little research. Here is a postmodern excerpt from the definition I found: Postmodernism, like modernism, follows most of these same ideas, rejecting boundaries between high and low forms of art, rejecting rigid genre distinctions, emphasizing pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. Postmodern art (and thought) favors reflexivity and self-consciousness, fragmentation and discontinuity (especially in narrative structures), ambiguity, simultaneity, and an emphasis on the destructured, decentered, dehumanized subject. Ah - I get it. Here is an example of postmodern art, right in my own studio: an installation that certainly rejects rigid genre distinctions. Is it sculpture? Is it fiber?

    Fragmented? You bet. Dehumanized. Totally. Lowbrow? For sure. And a definite pastiche. I was going to organize it tomorrow, but I may have to reconsider. It is just too avant garde.

    week #48 drawing

    "What is THIS?", you may ask. "AHA," I say, "This is a sketch."
    But I cheated. I needed to put a drawing up and haven't had time to do one, so I found this one in my sketchbook from probably 1999 and it will have to do. I did this exercise in a free-form quilt design class and it had to do with seeing lines and patterns everywhere you look. I semed to have had a rather whimsical time with this slice from the Paris R.E.R map. You might want to try it yourself: cut out a slice of a visual and extend the lines any way you wish. Then what? Obviously, I have no idea, since I never did anything with it. If you have any ideas, let me know.

    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 ...