Tuesday, February 28, 2006

what I hate...

is when I think a piece is finished, I am laying it out on top of the batting, and then it yells "STOP!!" Here it was, lying on the floor just a little while ago. And a scrap of fabric I had cut out from the back fell onto it from the table . Aha! I knew I had to put on the brakes and try something. So I pieced together what was left of the fabric and put it along the bottom.oops! No. It looks too mch like a border. My husband comes in and he does't like it either - but for his own reason, which has nothing to do with why it doesn't work for me. But - hmm...it needs to be there somewhere as an echo. So I try it on the left and it's wrong: there is already a lot of dark there. Finally, I move it to the right hand side and make it narrow.
Back to the red and black piece that doesn't look nearly as wonderful as I thought it looked last week. But isn't that always the way???

Monday, February 27, 2006

website woes

Whine, whine, whine (or is it whinge?). I have spent the day revamping/revising my website, which was horribly out of date. I'm spending too much time on this blob and it shows! So, after a day of sitting in this chair, I finally have a page of scarves back up on my site, have added new work and prices. Still have to get back and put up a page of art cloth and change the links page - tomorrow. This picture on the left has nothing to do with my website - but it shows how much caffeine I am drinking while I work. I came in with my cup of coffee this morning and was shocked to find a cup of tea from the night before and 2 empty coffee cups. Why was I shocked?! Well, tonight, only one cup at my elbow - and it is coffee from this morning. But the room is still pretty clean.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

new work, old work

I spent a good part of the day working on my website: adding new exhibit info to the front page, updating my teaching schedule and postcard page, and most time consuming of all - adding a page of new work. Since there has been a lot of discussion about pricing or not, I decided to add prices on these new pieces. I have not gotten around to putting prices on the rest of the pages, but will have to get to it. While I was going through my jpg files, retrieving the new work, I remembered that I had a conversation with - aargh - SOMEBODY here about putting up old work so we could all see where we started before we became ARTISTS. Well, anyway - I figured I would put up a few pieces from the 20th century, just for old time's sake. The tea cup one at the top is a breakthrough piece for me - traditional blocks I drafted myself and TEXT on the perimeter. It still makes me happy when I look at it. The next one started with antique 9 patches, of which I still have a billion. Margaret Miller published it in one of her books. The piece immediately below came next -- about 9 years ago and sold last year. I was still making tradtional blocks, but doing my own thing with them. Kaffe Fasset had just come out with his stripes and I had just dyed my first fabric, which I combined with commercial ones.Leftover blocks from something went into the border of this next one. The center was the first time I'd done raw edge appliqué after I realized I didn't care about the Quilt Police. Enough for now -- you get the idea. Transitional pieces - a much different palette than I now use - and we won't even try to analyze that!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday in the gallery

My friend Seema and I went to the International Juried Show at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (formerly known as the NJ Center for the Visual Arts, formerly formerly known as the Summit Arts Center, which was less of a mouthful than the more pretentious titles above). Interesting show, but not a thing I wanted to steal. Lots of photography and paintings, a print or two and a few offbeat pieces of art like a coat made out of latex foam and licorice, which hung on the wall. Both Seema and I were curious to see if there was any fiber (she weaves). Lo and behold, there was this piece by Deborah Kruger. She calls them textile paintings - this one is worked in fiber, encaustic, and oil stick. Check out her website. Cool stuff. Another piece, which I really liked and which I could not get a shot of, was a large work by Hollie Heller. I always think of her as a fiber artist, although this piece was paint, graphite on acetate. Hollie used to work on paper and fabric, cut them up, stitch them back together, and do wonderful and original things with them. The pix on her website don't do her work justice, IMHO. The third piece I liked was by Janet Shapero, who works in acrylic on screen. Oooh - I have a whole roll of fiberglass screen that I bought some time ago which is in the basement. Never thought about painting on it. I think her work is very nice. In fact, better than very nice. So tonight, in lieu of working, I kept Marty company and worked on the sweater I was supposed to give him for his birthday in Feb. '05. We rented "The Constant Gardner" -- that Ralph Fiennes is to die for - and the movie wasn't bad, either.

what if? - continued

Picking up where I left off the other day..here is the piece I was dealing with. I added to it almost immediately - and it came together 1-2-3...up to a point.

At that point (below - and a more accurate color) it told me exactly what it wants to be. It is now up to me to figure out how to get it there. This is a piece I have needed to make for 8 or 9 years and I haven't been able to make it work. But this time, without thinking about it or trying to execute the idea I have had in my head for so long, there it is. I started with the fabrics and no idea of where it was going, unlike the way Omega works.

It doesn't matter to me what YOU see, it is what I know it is about that makes the difference. There is one more element that needs to be included and then we'll see whether it needs to be bigger or not. I also know that since it is pinned to the poard and just slapped up there, it will never look exactly the same once I have taken it down and put it together. But that is part of the process.

In a little while, I am off with my friend Seema to see an art exhibit (our second monthly art day). It is a national juried exhibit at the NJ Center for the Visual Arts. If I can take pictures, I will, and will check back later

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

anatomy of a 'what if?'

Yesterday I ironed the wax out of all the fabric I had printed and then decided I have so much of it, that I had better DO something with it. Well, actually, I have been deciding this every day but haven't done it. I also have plenty of fabric that I have printed over the last 5 years or more. So, last night was 'what if?' night. I usually photograph my auditions so I can go back later and decide which way worked best, and so I can remember what I had done. Here's a glimpse of how I work when I'm auditioning fabrics for a new piece. My starting point was the fabric you see on your left, which has been sitting around here for a few years. In fact, my starting point is almost ALWAYS the fabric and the concept evolves as I work. Sometimes it never evolves - LOL. Below is the first round, which I had on my wall a few days ago. It had possibilities but I just couldn't make it work exactly right - so I took it down. I don't pin my fabrics together till I am sure it feels right, so I need these photographs just in case I ever want to recreate something.

Then, last night, after I had steamed, washed, and ironed again, I had a piece that I thought would be better with that fabric. So here is another combination. I put up a black piece of canvas behind the pieces - I may end up changing my boring gray wall to black. I think it helps me see better what I am doing.ignore it. Anyway, here are a couple more versions of the same thing you see above. Just slight modifications -- more 'what if?' Now all of these are down from the wall and scattered around, and I have moved onto something completely different. This one is today's project. Two pieces I just printed and three that have been sitting around here for YEARS waiting for friends to show up. I cannot remember how I functioned without my digital camera.

Everybody works so differently: I think it would be fascinating to see your processes - why don't you shoot some pix and share on your blog the way you think while you are making a piece?

Monday, February 20, 2006

play day at the museum

One Monday a month our Studio Six group meets at the Newark Museum and we make a mess in the print studio. Today, Randy Keenan, who makes the most to-die-for collages and artist's books, joined us. The museum has a Thermofax,so she was able to make some screens and was in Thermofax heaven. We all normally do our own processes - Judy Langille screens fabric. Here she is, working on no doubt what will be another prize winner. Judy has been in Quilt National, the Sedgwick, and now -- Visions. Rachel Cochran works with discharge paste. Last time, her fabric discharged to an amazing shade of BLUE! Today, we did unpredictable screen printing. Great process, which uses thickened dyes. Here is Rachel's screen before she printed. And here she is, afterwards, putting the next layer on the fabric. Diane and I were busy with wax and with our cameras, but I did make some screened fabric as a demo. Don't know yet what the next step will be with this one. It will sit for a while, since I have to finish my batik fabric. More, tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2006

another opening, another show

Back from NY City and Diane Savona's opening.Marty and I traveled in on the PATH - which is the subway that goes from NJ to NY. We then had a lovely, leisurely walk from 33rd & 6th to 54th & Lexington Ave. We stopped in Lord & Taylor on the way (ask me where all the good restrooms are), where I resisted the cosmetics counters and Marty didn't buy shoes. The weather was almost balmy - perfect walking weather. We had burgers & drinks in an Irish pub on 2nd Ave and then went to the opening .

Here is Diane in front of one of her wonderful pieces. Having seen many of these in progress did not prepare me for seeing all of them hanging together. Here are some pieces from her ironing board series.

And here is a piece that deals with family history, tradition, and women and the domestic arts - particularly sewing.

detail below

Diane's newest work is her Roadcloth series. I'm afraid I was too far away to get a good picture of one of those pieces. BUT, I did get a few photos of some of the people who turned up for the opening. Joan Dreyer & Patricia Malarcher Diane with Rachel Cochran

And Louise Nevelson. Well, obviously not Nevelson - but her work. The show was at Saint Peter's Church which is extremely modern and adjacent to the Citicorp building at Lexington & 53rd. When the church was built, they commissioned Louise Nevelson to design the small chapel and the entire room is her sculpture. Mind-blowing. The room is white, as is the artwork, but of course on my camera it registered strangely and even Photoshop couldn't get the blue or yellow or red tint out. Nevertheless - here is one part of a wall: There was one more shot I couldn't resist. Out in the basement corridor, on the other side of the glass wall of the church's lower level was an elegant installation to rival any artwork. Having walked what seemed like miles uptown, we were ready to take the subway after the show. We took it to the World Trade Center (ask me what an eerie feeling that still is) and took the PATH back to Newark. I love the PATH. Every other person who got on looked like they were wearing hearing aids: some in both ears, with wires hanging down. I told Marty that old people should not feel self-conscious about wearing hearing aids because all these young ones are walking around looking terminally hard of hearing - which they will be. I wish I had had the nerve to take out my camera on the train.

Good night.

Friday, already?

Where has the week gone? In a little while, Marty and I are off to New York to the opening of Diane Savona's solo exhibit. If you haven't seen her amazing work, keep your eyes peeled..she's a rising star! While I work with found objects in one way - using them for printing -- Diane actually incorporates the physical objects into her work. And she is prodigious! My work is, to a great extent, about memory and loss - and hers is, too -- but in an entirely different - much more archeological way. On another matter, before I leave, here's an example of 'can this fabric be saved?' This dreadful piece of cotton that I dyed a few years ago, is the before. After I went to work on the piece with wax, discharge, and dye, here's the after. And now I'm outa here on my way to the Big City.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

oh dear

Studio day -- cleaned up the downstairs (dye studio) and worked upstairs instead, doing some batik, washing out yukky dye containers and applicators, steaming, washing, and ironing. Not terribly happy with anything, so no pictures tonight. Am also cleaning up the papers on my desk downstairs, sorting out all the recipes I have printed out that have been sitting here amongst the misc. e-mails, calls for entry, and workshop outlines. I also downloaded a trial version of a data base/contact manager to see if it serves my needs. But I'm too tired to deal with it tonight. Tomorrow, cleaning up, cooking, and generally preparing for company on Sunday. Yes, I know it's only Thursday, but Friday we'll be in New York at Diane Savona's solo show opening, and Sat. is Marty's birthday. It is the once a year I take HIM out to dinner. Yesterday I finished 3 pieces and just one still needs the facing sewn down. Progress.

Monday, February 13, 2006

mashers & strainers

I finally plugged in the waxpot and got to work, using some of the implements from yesterday's workshop. Two of the people in the class generously gave me their potato mashers when class was over: they were not going to use them again -- two gifts -- ovals that worked just fine for me and were unlike the ones I already owned. Thanks, Kendall and Diane!! I started with a piece of green fabric I had dyed and didn't care for and now I like it a lot. I think it needs another layer of something, but I'll have to let it sit for a while till I figure out what. This picture is just one section of the fabric. The next piece is really nicer than it looks on the monitor. I worked with muted colors - crystal brown that they don't make any more, a pale blue, and pale chino. In class, Arlene had a strainer she had bought in Chinatown but had a hard time getting it to work with the wax. I borrowed it and managed to get some nice patterns. Are they flowers or fireworks? I guess it doesn't matter.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

a little bit of snow

In case you can't read it, it says 15". That was several hours ago and it's still coming down. Pretty, isn't it? It took me an hour to clean 15" off my car this morning, but at least it's on the driveway so the plow and the elves who come with their shovels will take it away. Of course, I probably won't be grilling tonight's dinner, so I should go make some soup. I had no Internet this morning and this afternoon, instead of using all that wax, I find myself picking stitches out of the piece I was attempting to quilt last night. I should not try that at night.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

a fun day

Happily, the predicted snow held off till five minutes after class was over today. Hopefully, all the travelers who came from afar have gotten home safely by now. I always worry. Today was the soy wax workshop at the Arts Guild of Rahway, NJ and we all had fun.
Kendall Storm (below)

and Joanna van Ritbergen

drove down from Westchester County, NY and batik-d and painted their hearts out. I would never have guessed that this was the first time either of them had painted fabric, let alone doing batik. They waxed and painted and waxed and painted and waited till they got home to iron out the wax and wash the fabric - and I hope they will send me pictures when they are done.

Arlene Jacobs, who does all kinds of fiber work and is a member of the NY Textile Study Group, came out from NY City and was nonstop. I think she went home with more completed fabric than anybody! Here she is at work. Diane Carey came the longest distance: a couple of hours drive from somewhere in Northern Pennsylvania on the way to New York State. Diane has pretty much taught herself surface design and you can see the concentration she brings to her work. And then we have the two musketeers: the famous artist-website designer,Gloria Hansen, and the famous blogger, Mary Manahan, who is looking impatiently at the softball she put into the wax, waiting for it to get hot enough to stamp with. It never did. But hey, you never know. You gotta try everything! Right, Mary? Later in the day, they insisted that I do 'show and tell' and give a lesson in how to wrap fabric for steaming, just in case they decided to use dyes the next time they do batik. Somebody grabbed my camera and made me SMILE while I was showing them this batik piece I did with kitchen implements. Joanna wanted to buy it but I wasn't ready to part with it. However, I will eventually be putting some fabrics for sale on my other blog "Off the Design Wall." I just haven't gotten to it. Been too busy keeping my studio clean. All in all, a good day. I got home before the snow started to stick, but we did stay in tonight and eat leftovers rather than get stuck trying to get up the various hills we have around here.

So glad that tomorrow is Sunday. I have 3 electric skillets that still have wax in them and I simply have to use them up.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


It's almost 2 weeks. This isn't staged, honestly - it really looks this way tonight. you might ask whether I am getting any creative work done - but that's another story.

color color color

How is your color memory? Mine is pretty good - I can see a color in my mind's eye long after I have stopped looking at it. But today I needed to go to the store to buy thread and I had to take my piece with me. For the most part, I work in colors that are not clear, not pure - but greyed or tinged with olive or somehow "off." But try to find threads that are 'off.' Not easy! This piece is 'off' and somewhat neutral. I was looking for a beige and a blue that would work with it: a nearly impossible task! Blue is a difficult color under the best of circumstances and I finally found the right blue among the greys. And I came home with 3 different beiges, all of which are ok with this piece and none of which I would have selected had I relied on memory alone. Uh - oh - am I losing it?
On another matter - I am trying to figure out ahead of time how I am going to stitch this piece. Making progress, and perhaps tomorrow I will actually get it finished.

court's out

After a day and a half of sitting around the county courthouse, I am glad to be back in my studio. Jury duty's over for another 3 years, when they are bound to call me again. Does my husband ever get called? Of course not. But me, like clockwork. Yesterday, armed with my knitting (bamboo needles) a book, an apple, some nuts, and some paperwork, I got through security and knitted my little heart out all morning. Came back from lunch and they wouldn't let me through: 'no needles of any kind in the courthouse.' Cheesh --- change of shift. "Don't you know that somebody was brutally murdered in this courthouse a few years ago?" No, I don't. And I strongly doubt that they were brutally murdered with bamboo knitting needles. The alleged perp in yesterday's case (for which, fortunately, they filled the jury before they got to me) had been indicted on a few minor offenses: attempted robbery, robbery, theft, endangering the welfare of a minor, attempted assault, assault, carjacking, carrying an illegal weapon, using a weapon for illegal purposes, and a few other things I can't remember. Cut to this morning, when we had to be back at 9:15 "just in case." We sat around in the hall for 2-1/2 hours while the defendant and his attorney went for coffee. After they returned from coffee break we were told "everything is taken care of, you can go home." It was 11:00 this morning. No doubt a plea bargain. The witnesses left and the defendant was no doubt out on the street this afternoon back to being an upstanding citizen. BUT I DIGRESS. Tonight, I did some batik. I'm almost out of soda ash. These turned out rather well but they haven't been steamed/washed out yet. tomorrow.and this one, below, is the dropcloth. I ironed it and threw it in the machine to soak in cold water. To bed.

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 ...