Wednesday, May 30, 2007

under the needle

Sounds like a medical procedure, and come to think of it, I always felt that way about doing the actual machine quilting part. Ick. Today, for the first time in what feels like a year, I sat down at the sewing machine. This is a detail of a piece that has been sitting, unfinished, for about 4 months . I finally sat down to quilt it.
I made it without any preconceived notion of where it was going or what it was saying. Then, as I began to quilt, it spoke.

It was the stitching that made me SEE -- an experience I have never had before. Now that I know what it is saying, I shall have to listen closely so I don't miss it when it tells me its name.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

goodies in my e-mail

I was happy the other day to get a few jpgs from my dear friend Marlene Cohen of work she has finished. My goodness, she has been busy -- no wonder she's been so quiet.There were five pieces altogether - two of them made with fabrics I had printed, given to her, and forgotten about. I am not posting those at the moment. Marlene is from London -- much too far for my taste. If we are lucky, we see each other every couple of years. I have a quilt going to Birmingham this year, but I will not be going with it.

At any rate, I always find her work expressive and filled with layers of meaning. This one, with its juxtaposition of pastel and acid colors and its graceful, but sharp-edged shapes, speaks to me of strong and conflicting emotions. Here are two more -- entirely different from the one at the left - either a diptych or the beginning of a series.

On another subject... I finally attacked the reconstituted gelatin plate I showed you the other day. Here it is before I printed with it. It had the good grace to fall apart as I was removing it from its pan. Made my life easier. And here is a piece of fabric I printed, inspired by looking at my own fabric in the quilt of Marlene's which I will post at some point. It will look good when it is cut up into bits. I will leave the cutting-up-into-bits for tomorrow after I get what I hope will be a decent night's sleep.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

what is it about color?

In my old age I am going crazy with color on my feet...mostly because it works with the black I wear on my body to make me look thinner. An illusion, of course.

As you know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, I am partial to Birkenstocks (and Arche: I have a yellow pair and a red pair) I have umpteen dilapidated pairs of beige, khaki, black, and other neutral Birks which are wonderfully comfy and worn out and have been soaked with water, splattered with paint, and are a basic embarrassment if I am getting DRESSED. Enter Birks in color. I will always regret not buying a bright red pair some years ago (I was too repressed) and am making up for it now, maybe. I love my denim blue ones on the right, my Mango Birks in the middle - and the other day, lured by a $20 off Internet coupon, I could not resist buying the orchid pair on the left. I just opened the box tonight and even though they don't go with anything I own, they make me happy. Why am I bothering to tell you this? Is it art related? Well, in a sense it is because it is about color.

The psychology of color is fascinating. In the 1980's when I was a genuine, certified Color & Image Consultant (stop laughing) I was telling people what looked good on them and nevertheless, continued wearing drab colors myself. What you feel comfortable wearing and what looks good on you are not necessarily the same. Look at your art. Do you make it in the colors you wear? Or is there something else at work there? I'd be very interested in hearing how you feel about color, how you relate to it, and how differently (or not) the colors in your work play out vs. what you wear and surround yourself with in the house.

I don't own anything mango or orchid except those shoes. In small doses, wonderful. But otherwise, give me brown. And YOU?

Friday, May 25, 2007

if it's 2:pm it must be break time

This is getting to be a habit. I remember when I used to WORK for a living (my mother's definition of work is leaving the house every day, going to an office, having a boss, and getting paid regularly). Been there/done that. I was the Director of Promotion for a computer trade magazine for 7 years and then (I'll leave out the good parts) fast forward...for the last 10 of my years as an employee, I marketed and delivered career transition counseling services to to corporations for their EX-employees .

I couldn't sit at a desk for more than 45 minutes when I was up, roaming around and taking a coffee break. Being an artist means always being up and around - and mostly, I need to sit down to take a coffee break. Today, in addition to the coffee, I did two experiments.
Experiment #1
Taste test. Two chunks of bittersweet from Whole Foods. One, Caro chocolate from Spain, the second is Valharona 70% cocoa. I tasted a teensy bit of each and couldn't tell which I liked better so I will force myself to have a little more. I think the Valharona is less sweet, which is good. It is also more expensive, which is bad. Whole Foods has several kinds of chocolate and I shall have to try them all. But not today. Nevertheless, the caffeine from both the coffee and chocolate has helped wake me up a bit.
Experiment #2

Chemistry test. If you've been reading my blog for a while you may remember this.

Redux. I made a gelatin plate about 2 wks ago and never had time to use it. Found this in the fridge today, but decided to try a "what if?" on it and see if it would reconstitute. Poured boiling water on it and then put it in the microwave and kept smushing that thing around as it got soft. Finally, most of it was melted and I put the pan back in the fridge. One hour later - smooth as glass, except for where the blob that didn't melt is sticking up through the surface and where the leaf from the asparagus fern I was watering at the time is embedded. But, aha! Success! Perhaps I shall do more gelatin printing over the weekend

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

mid-afternoon blog

I never do this. But I am taking a mid-afternoon break today. Interruption #1: The DHL man knocked on my open door and delivered a carton of Mountain Mist White Gold Fusible 100% cotton batting. Interruption #2: He came back because he had forgotten to scan the label on the carton. Interruption #3: I broke my temporary crown and had to go to the dentist. #4 When I left the house I discovered that it is a gorgeous day and I should not be inside. #5: The dog ate my homework.

When I got home from dentist and went upstairs to change my clothes, I looked down at this chaos. My normally pristine dining table has become my desk this week and this room is piled with papers, bills, fabric, finished quilts, unfinished quilt, camera, storage boxes, pins, kleenex, an extra pair of glasses, a hanger, of course, my laptop - and yes, a glass of wine. I never do that mid-afternoon, either. But as my friend Laura would say, it's 5:00 somewhere. Well, 4:00 is close enough.

If all goes well, I may even go to the studio tomorrow. I haven't been there in two weeks and my plants have probably died. More later if I decide to take an evening break.

Monday, May 21, 2007

when all else fails

take a picture of the garden. This seems to be the season when flowers sprout on everybody's blogs, so why not mine? This part of the garden is lush: some might say overgrown. I really have to divide my daylilies but the ground is too dry and I am too busy with clerical work. After Memorial Day. Fortunately, dalilies are very forgiving and can be divided and planted at any time of the year. I think. I hope. I had a black thumb till my friend Helene sprinkled magic dust on me and I figured out that if I planted perennials I would never, ever have to do anything and my plants would come up and bloom all by themselves. Last fall I even stuck some mums in the ground and guess what? They're coming up! I always thought they were annuals. Silly me. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will see my three-year old Japanese red maple - it seems to be some kind of laceleaf variety. Delicate, pretty, and slow-growing. I think it is a midget maple because even the ferns are taller than it is. But I will continue to speak to it and see what happens. Nobody has tagged me again but this seems like a good time to add some info to my previous list. Books. 1. I have started to read Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, which I bought at the last airport I was in. Seems the only time I have to read is on a plane. 2. I just pre-ordered this book, which is finally supposed to be coming out. Hooray, I'll believe it when I have it in my hand.

Reporting the Chinese Revolution; the letters of Rayna Prohme. If you don't want to hear my Rayna story, it's ok - but I am going to tell you anyway. You can skip to the end if you wish.

I am named after my great-great grandmother, who was Regina. But I am Rayna because my mother was reading a book while she was pregnant with me,in which the author of the letters in the book above, Rayna Prohme, was a central figure. Captivated by her beauty,vitality and heroism, my mother decided that if she had a girl she would be Rayna. I grew up hearing about this mythic figure who tragically died in her early thirties, all my life.

Fast forward to 2004 or 2005. I get an e-mail from Rayna Kraman in Dallas who has googled her first name and found me. She asks me how I got my name and I tell her the story. Then she tells me that Rayna Prohme was her father's cousin. Talk about small world - the connection gives me goose bumps. So, we've both been waiting for this book about our namesake who was a famous 20th century historical figure. Will it really be published?

Ok - the end. At least for now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

gelatin prints

These seem to be the topic on a number of discussion lists this week. While I was ironing fabric tonight to clear my head and organize the random stuff lying around, I came across quite a few gelatin printed pieces of fabric. Here are some that I might ever do something with.

In this last one, coming up, the gelatin print is the background. I wasn't happy with it so I screened some images on top. This is only one area of the fabric; there are other background textures and other images elsewhere on the cloth. That's all for tonight. I'll try to be better about posting; I'm just waiting for some interesting adventures to occur so I have something to write about. Ho hum.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Making up for lost time, I suppose. Egads, my blog readership has dropped to HALF!!
Horrors! That's akin to having your tv show's rating plummet. Am I past my prime?
Redundant? Maybe I need to hire new writers.

I spent Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning in Chappaqua, NY. Drove up to give a slide show/program and workshop at Northern Star Quilters - that terrific guild that has a large art quilt subgroup. These people were not in my workshop.
But the people who were, made some amazing work. One of the things I did was hand out a photo to everyone and asked them to use it for inspiration - or to capture the essence without reproducing it in detail. Here are a few examples of their work posted on the unfortunately reflective board.
There were many more delightful pieces but I can't post them all here right now. So, tune in tomorrow for a few more.


to all of you who e-mailed me asking if everything is ok because I've been quiet. Yes, everything is ok. I have been up to my ears in STUFF - none of which is blog-worthy. I mean, do you really want to know about Verizon calling my 90 year old, hard-of-hearing, short-term-memory-deficient mother and selling her a package that included Verizon voice mail? Do you want to know how nobody could get through to her for weeks because it takes her 20 rings to get across the room to answer the phone and Verizon intercepts it after 3 rings? And how I couldn't get Verizon to take off the damn auto-answer without a big fight? NOPE. Do you want to know about my husband's visit to the retina specialist? NOPE. Do you want to hear about how our central air did not work when it was 90 degrees here last week and nobody could come and fix it till today? NOPE. So I will not tell you all of this. Instead, I've been tagged. Not by one person, but by TWO of my supposed friends. Ha! Now I have to post 7 random things about myself. 1. I went to sleep at 10 pm every week night for my 4 years of college. 2. I failed the parallel parking part of my driving test but got my license anyway. 3. I am left-handed except for doing these things, which I can't do left-handed: use scissors,cut with a knife,dial the phone, drink. I iron and use a rotary cutter with either hand --although I mostly use my right. Go figure. 4. Can't do math. 5. Hate animals and sports. 6. We couldn't graduate from college unless we passed a swimming test. I flunked floating and had to retake the test. 7. I am an INFP. Phew! glad that's over.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

hang in there...

It's been one of those weeks. We're celebrating Mother's Day early - my kids (and my mother) are coming over for dinner tonight - ha ha -- I'm sending out for pizza and have bought dessert and paper plates. This comes from being the filling in the sandwich generation. So far, this has not been the day I planned to have - some rather unexpected and unpleasant things to deal with -- but it can only get better. I am looking forward to a visit tomorrow from my friend Laura Cater-Woods, who has been teaching in NJ. She's coming here for 24 hours of R&R before I take her to the plane on Monday. Then, Tuesday I head up to Somers, NY to lecture and teach "Jump-starting the Art Quilt" on Wed at that terrific guild, Northern Star. I was sorry to have missed their show, which is always excellent -- and really sorry to have not been available to hear Beaney & Littlejohn when they lectured there. But you can't have it all! Off to make salad to go with the pizza when the troops arrive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Adventures on Air Force 2 (not art related)

Todd Gillman has his tongue firmly in his cheek as he reports on his trip to the Middle East with Dick Cheney. Todd (Marty's son) is a journalist with the Dallas Morning News, and he covers the White House from time to time. This is one of those times. Behind the scenes stuff on his blog for the next two weeks, so if you care to take a peek,, it should be fun and games. Now, back to the task at hand.

Monday, May 07, 2007

root canal

I've gotten to know my endodontist quite well these last few months. Today was what I hope will be my last appointment with him for quite a while, if not ever. During these four visits, I kept thinking of the wonderful piece of work Helene Davis made several years ago with the title"Tooth I:Root Canals" . The image says it all. (a few more of her pieces are here).

Tomorrow night I go see my regular dentist for a temporary crown. He's staying just for me, isn't that sweet? Meantime,the weekend's frutti de mare lunch gave me the urge to buy a couple of pounds of mussels yesterday and here is tonight's dinner - which will be served over pasta (because the dentist said to eat something soft). I promise not to eat the shells.

I am sitting at the dining table, trying to make order out of my files - to little avail. Can you guess that I am procrastinating? Oh, you are so wrong.

Meantime, to bring this back to a more art-related subject, I have started another blog: Off the Design Wall. The plan is this: each week I put up work for sale - or ON sale, depending on which week it is. I need to clear out my studio storage (ha ha - can anybody identify with that?) Sometimes it will be one piece, sometimes several. Sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes Vintage Rayna- no doubt a collector's item or two.

This week, postcards are up for sale - and I've just finished putting a "sold" sign on one that went today. There are still a couple left. By next week there will be some other items (if I stick to THE PLAN).

So, go take a look. And I'll keep you posted on when new work goes up. I'm blogging early tonight so I can get back to my files. I am having company over the weekend and it is just too mortifying to have a real person come in and see this place. So, ta ta for now.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

New York stories, part 2

Business at the jewelers concluded, we headed back downtown to the WTC. We hadn't had dessert at lunch, so we made a small detour to the landmark Ferrara's on Grand Street. This pasticceria has been there sincd 1892, although I will admit I don't remember back that far. However, it was always a treat to go there. It is elegant and European inside - but I didn't take pictures today, sorry. Marty treated himself to a large chocolate gelato and we brought home some pignoli cookies, a couple of biscotti, and my personal favorites - their sfoglietelle - two of which I am eating with a cup of tea as I write this saga. Ferrara's has the BEST sfoglietelle in th world (except maybe one that I had in Florence in 2000). They are so crisp and lemon-y, I could eat 100 of them. And I do not have a sweet tooth, so you can imagine!

But wait! While Marty was contemplating the pastries, I hot-footed it up the elegant, curving staircase to the ladies'. What did I find outside the door? Three women, waiting in LINE. A line at Ferrara's? At Starbucks, yes. Those restrooms are onesies. But Ferrara's has a real ladies' room, so there was no need to stand in the corridor. These women insisted the door was locked. Locked? Woman #1 had touched the door daintily and it did not move, so she assumed someone was in there. I said "PUSH! This door does not lock!" She pushed. It opened. Three empty stalls. Woman #3 turned and said "we're not from around here." Is that an excuse for not pushing the door open?? Apparently. They were from Dayton, OHIO and I guess the ladies' room doors open more easily there - LOL. I wished them a happy rest of their trip. According to Mapquest, our walk in each direction was about 3.6 miles - so we walked about 7 miles today. Enough to walk off the linguini and wine and the other stuff? Probably not. We left Ferrara's and headed through Chinatown, which has the most crowded sidewalks on the East coast. Everybody was shopping for tonight's dinner. The fruits and vegetables were gorgeous - and inexpensive. But we did not buy.

One last story. 4 or 5 women got on the PATH at the WTC, chattering delightedly. A man asked where they were from and they answered "everywhere!" They were staying in Jersey City, NJ (one PATH stop from NY) for some kind of convention or conference - one from Seattle, another from Texas, etc. and they'd been shopping in NY. They, in turn, asked the man whether he commuted every day and when he said yes, they all pulled out their Metrocards, each of which had $1.50 left (1 way on the PATH) and gave them to him. Random acts of kindness...a beautiful end to a beautiful day.

New York stories, part I

This is what started it all. My beloved bracelet, which we bought in Italy almost seven years ago and which I wear every day, broke. Fortunately, the company just opened their US corporate headquarters in New York and we had to take it in there so they could send it back to Italy to be fixed. We had such a terrific day that Marty swears I broke the bracelet on purpose, just to have an excuse to go into the city. I don't THINK so. The jewelbox of a boutique (if you'll excuse the expression) was on Mott St. - just north of Chinatown in what is now known as NOLITA (North of Little Italy). Parking is not fun, nor is traffic on Canal St. in the heart of Chinatown, so we parked in Newark and took the PATH to the World Trade Center. Here is the railroad bridge near Penn Station in Newark. What is it with me and industrial grids?
Here is a sign on a building in Newark I thought was especially informative. We walked up Broadway in lower Manhattan and for a little while, thought we were in Paris. This mini-chateau is a firehouse. I wonder if it was built as one. Anyway, we walked through Little Italy to a neighborhood our grandparents couldn't wait to get out of. Now, it is HOT HOT HOT and people pay megabucks to live in the tenements. It's hard to resist Little Italy, which we approached at around noon (how convenient). I think there are more restaurants there now than there were when it was REALLY Little Italy, if you know what I mean. We stopped at this place on Mulberry Street and Marty asked the guy standing outside (a sort of maitre d') whether the food was good. His answer, "no, we only serve bad food." IMHO, he got the answer he deserved. I turned to Marty and started to ask him in French (I have no idea why) what he wanted to do and the guy started speaking to ME in French. Turns out he is from Morocco and we had a great conversation. He recommended les fruit de mer (frutti de mare on THIS menu). Bottom line, we ate there. Just as if we were tourists in some other country. It was lovely. A glass of pinot noir, an espresso, and I was in heaven. Then we were ready to continue our walk for a few more blocks.This is enough for one installment. To be continued in my next post.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

spring fleurs

When I finally poked my head out this afternoon, I saw these lovelies starting to bloom. If you think I can remember what they are, think again. Probably some weed I am allergic to!

Worked at home today, sorting through the piles of stuff in my livingroom and trying to make order out of chaos. I am making progress. Was up at 4:am worrying about something and by the time I had resolved it, I decided to get up and get started on the pile of work. So my computer has been on the dining room table and it is very interesting that I am much more seriously able to work than when it is on my lap. This is why they call them notebooks instead of laptops, I suppose.

Tomorrow, back to the studio. I am usually pretty good about cleaning it up before I leave for the day, but yesterday I closed the window, closed the door, and left everything where it was. I will iron. That always makes the world look better.

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 ...