Sunday, October 28, 2007

isn't it pretty?

Ha ha - I feel like one those sellers on e-bay. Except that I'm not selling this Thermofax, I just bought it. Last week I took it to Brooklyn to be overhauled; this morning I drove in to pick it up. It's nice and clean and shiny, has a new belt, a couple of new switches, and has been calibrated to make a perfect screen. At least it made a perfect screen when I tested it at George's workshop. When I made one at home I saw that next time I will need to adjust the temp a tiny bit to make it a little lighter.
This machine is quite a bit heavier than the one I already own; 43 lbs vs. 27 lbs. The later ones weigh less. Since this one is so heavy, i decided i had better keep it on the first floor instead of the lower level because there was no way Marty could carry it down. This, of course, led to another major cleaning-out and reorganizing of my STUFF so i could keep the machine where I previously had my antique thread cabinet. But I digress...
Here I am, peeling the film away from the photocopy of a picture I had taken of a cracked slate sidewalk.(Sorry the picture is a little blurry).Of course, I had to test it out immediately - so I made a duct tape frame, reached for the paint, and tried to see if i could improve this piece of fabric.Here is the result.It's getting there. I don't know where there is, but I am sure I will find out.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

studio time

Yesterday, Rachel and I spent the whole day in my studio. We're trying to think differently as we do our surface design -- but neither of us is comfortable with thinking before we work, so it is a bit stressful. Of course, discomfort means we are stretching -- and that can only be a good thing.

Unfortunately, I left my camera in the studio so i can't post pictures of Rachel's challenging piece in transition. But I suspect she will get around to doing so on her blog one of these days. I took a particuarly hideous piece to see if I could impro
ve it. The jury is still out. I started with a piece of yellow fabric Helene had batiked and sent to me for rescue. I only made it worse. Check it out on the left of the page. I over-dyed it with some ungodly rust color which made it so hideous the camera broke (just kidding) - and then i knew i had to do something drastic. I discharged first with dishwasher gel, but that didn't do much. Then I painted with dye and paper resist, and finally, used discharge paste through a screen. Here is the result. Better. You can still see the yellow and green, but it is more subtle. Not sure what the next step will be.
Tonight i rearranged my upstairs studio and can breathe for a change. Now, after a day in New York and all this moving stuff around, i can barely keep my eyes open. So, goodnight!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a feast for the eyes

What a treat I had today! My friend Leonard Kahan invited me to an almost-private showing of the wonderful African art exhibit he had curated, which opened last week in the gallery at Queensborough Community College. The exhibit, A Cameroon World, was a rich visual feast of ritual items, sculpture, masks, textiles, and more. Leonard's friend Amadou, who is an advisor to the king, came to speak about life in Cameroon and about the objects we refer to as ART. Amazingly, there is no word for ART in Bamum, one of the only written native languages in Cameroon. Here are some of my favorites, although you can see a slide show of other works here. This figure is made of cowrie shells.The items below are beaded dancing skirts. Click on the image to see better.

Every utilitarian object is a work of art. These are dress hangers from a clothing store. Can you imagine???
A hand-embroidered dress - here is just a smidgen of the beautiful garment.
Speaking of beautiful garments, here is Amadou. I told him I wanted his clothes -- just look at that color combination! He told me that the men do the weaving and dyeing of textiles in Cameroon - as in most of Africa. Isn't he regal?It isn't fair that the men get to wear the most interesting clothing and hats. Look at this plumage -- and the pattern on the cape!Do you think you could learn to make a hat like this at Peters Valley or one of the other fine craft schools?
There was lots more, but I am beginning to feel like the person below, so I am going to bed.

I was in the studio for a couple of hours this morning and printed a couple more pieces, which I have steamed and washed and am about to put into the dryer. Tomorrow, Rachel Cochran is coming to the studio and we are going to print some more. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

on deck

Another beautiful October day - warm, humid, breezy. A perfect day for doing discharge outside. After I finished sewing the facings on a few pieces I decided to treat myself to a print fest of sorts. As you can see, my table is a little crowded. I really hate schlepping everything out on the deck but for discharge, there is really no other choice. The fabric on the left which looks blue is actually gray; i think it is a diluted shade of black 609.

I had some old thiox paste in the fridge and wanted to see if it would still work. it had been there for months and months, but it was still fine. It started to turn the fabric pink as soon as i put it on. But then, after i had steam-ironed, washed, dried, and ironed it, the effect was quite different - and more subtle.
Oh, nice. I can't wait to go back in.

Monday, October 22, 2007

there are deadlines and deadlines

Our lives are made up of one deadline after another: creative deadlines, work deadlines, financial deadlines, project deadlines, registration deadlines, submission deadlines, notification deadlines - and on and on and on. This has been a year when I have been overcome by deadlines - and it's not over yet. I figure the deadlines I set for myself are moveable. They are not published and nobody else has to adhere to them but me. So if I change my mind, I can change my deadline to make life easier for myself without inconveniencing another soul. On the other hand, deadlines others set for me are immutable unless they notify me in advance that they are moving the deadline. If a magazine needs my article by a certain date, they'll have it because there are consequences if I don't get it in on time. A relative of mine almost didn't graduate from high school because his term paper was not in by the deadline. Consequences. Show entry deadlines are immutable. Must be received by. Must be postmarked by. And god help you if you miss those deadlines; your artwork is not even considered. Those of us entering juried shows respect those deadlines because we know the consequences. But what about notification deadlines from those same shows? Every prospectus publishes an date when entrants will find out whether their work has been juried into the show. The recent entry form for a national show said October 29, 2007 Notification of Acceptance. But lo and behold, notifications of acceptance showed up in people's mailboxes on October 19 - ten days earlier than the published date. As if that were not bad enough, the show organizers did not have the courtesy to send out notifications of non-acceptance at the same time. As a result, people whose work did not get in could have entered it in another show with an October 20 postmark deadline if they had only been notified at the same time as the winning entrants. Unprofessional? Inconsiderate? Or just a clerical error? There is no earthly reason not to send out ALL notifications to ALL show entrants at the same time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

art therapy

Friday's "class" with Judy Langille at the museum was just what I needed last week. I put class in quotation marks because most of us are experienced surface designers who really signed up so we could have a block of time to work (or play, as the case may be). Judy facilitates and is there for feedback, which is the way I like to teach, too.

We worked with thickened dyes and Thermofax screens, among other things. The museum has a Thermofax but was running out of screen, so I made a few of them at home.
Here is a bit of a piece I had started the previous week that had no real definition; you can see the background with the grid and lines. I added the blue layer this past week and now we'll see what happens.

This next piece is part of one I had done with soy wax a long time ago that had an overall pattern. I screened the trees on last Friday, hoping they would be very black. But the dye paste was not dark enough, so the effect is very muted. At first I was disappointed but now I really like the mysterious effect. Work done? or work in process? I'll let it percolate.Speaking of Thermofaxes (I think I mentioned the word earlier) - I now own two of them. Am I nuts? Probably. I bought my first Thermofax 4 or 5 years ago for a song and always thought I should have a second one as a backup; i.e. - in case I need to take one with me to teach when I am within driving distance. But the prices have skyrocketed because the tattoo parlours are buying them all. Nevertheless, last week, on impulse, I bought a second one for not much more than I paid for my first one. Of course, the first one worked. This one made a screen and then stopped. Uh oh. So, Saturday morning I drove it to Brooklyn to be overhauled. It is now in great shape and I'll pick it up next weekend. Now I have a backup!
I learned a lot about those machines which I'll talk about later, in case anyone is interested in the history of Thermofaxes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

tagged - again? Argh.

Thelma Smith has done me the dubious favor of tagging me. Thanks, Thelma. I am supposed to list 7 random or weird things about myself and tag 7 other people, letting them know I am tagging them. Well, you'll get the 7 random things but I can't promise the rest of it. Making up 7 weird things about myself is enough work! 1. I drove through Brooklyn for the first time this weekend. Made it home intact! 2. I'm left-handed but am able to do the following things ONLY with my right: iron, use a knife or scissors, dial the phone (well, you know what I mean), drink, use a mouse. 3. My grandfather was an artist. 4. I stayed up all night only once in 4 years of college, to write a paper. 5. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and I have something in common, but she doesn't know it and I would tell her, but I would never tell you. My daughter Jessica knows what it is and thinks it is hysterical. 6. The above-named daughter and I once followed Aiden Quinn through the streets of NY's SOHO and into a brunch place where we sat at the next table and giggled and ogled. I was ostensibly an adult at the time. 7. I have had 8 or 9 different careers in my lifetime. Not JOBS, CAREERS. I hope this is the last.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

time flies

Where has it gone? Some time has gone to printing fabric at the museum; here is a bit of a bigger piece. I just put it here because I don't like to post without photos and it cheers me up to see this morsel.

Too much time has gone to the anguish of moving my mother to a residence better equipped to deal with her memory loss. I have spent endless amounts of time lying awake this week.

I did spend some time this afternoon at the tile store, trying to distract myself by looking for samples to take home for the kitchen floor. None of the seven I brought home was good. Bleh.

Finally, too mjch of time has gone to dealing with Dell service in the past two days. Remember a while ago when the L key didn't work? Well, this time it was the O. And the fan was making a horrible noise. Hours on the phone with the technicians who have no common sense and only go by the script in front of them. AARRGH. Here is the condensed version.

Phone call #1 tuesday a.m. - 1-1/2 hours. I told them it was the fan. "No, madam, it could be the optical drive or the hard drive." NO, IT IS THE FAN. "Sorry, madam, it could be the optical drive or the hard drive." (what the hell is the optical drive?? Oh, the CD drive, why didn't they say so?) The guy wanted me to get a screwdriver and take the CD drive out. ME? That's not my job: my job is to tell them what is wrong; the technician's job is to fix it. I told them I am a senior citizen, I don't own a screwdriver, and even if I did I was not about to take apart my laptop. "Do you have a friend with a screwdriver?" "NO." I insisted it was the fan, so they sent a service tech with a new CD drive, which he replaced Tuesday evening. A half hour later: THE SAME NOISE coming from THE FAN.

Phone call #2 Tuesday night: - 2 hours. THE FAN. Horrible noise, which the tech could hear over the phone all the way to India. His response: "madam, would you get a vacuum cleaner and vacuum the computer?" A VACUUM CLEANER? ME?
1) I have a central vacuum system.
2) the hose is in the garage
3) it is 10:pm in New Jersey and my husband is asleep
4) I am a senior citizen
5) it is not my job to vacuum the laptop. It is THEIR job.
6) I need a new keyboard, since the OOO's don't work. As long as they are sending a keyboard, why don't they send a new fan?

Wednesday afternoon: Service tech #2 arrives with a keyboard. No fan. However, he takes apart the computer and cleans the dust out of the fan as well as he can with a Q-tip and a sponge. He promises to call India and order a new fan and a new bottom for the computer, which is missing a large chunk of plastic near the hard drive. I am not holding my breath.
But the ooo's work and there is no horrible noise. This thing came with a 3 year service contract included and I am thinking I should renew it. The bionic laptop.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

untitled post

I may add a layer or two to this fabric, but probably not till later in the week. Depends on a lot of factors, none of which are in my control. On another topic, today was a busy weekend day - we went looking at soapstone for our future countertops (at the rate we're going - it feels like distant future). We spent a lovely hour at the Zimmerli Museum in New Brunswick, NJ - home of the famous Rutgers University where two of my offspring went to school. There was an incredible exhibit of photographs by such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Sally Mann, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith Chuck Close, Diane Arbus, and others too numerous to mention. Strange and brilliant! Betcha didn't know some of these people were photographers along with all of their other talent. I didn't, either.There was also a contemporary print exhibit (my favorite art is work on paper) - Donald Judd, June Wayne, among others. I came home and decided I should go back to working on paper.

We got to the museum a bit early and had to take a walk around campus. I got out my camera and managed to take a photo or two of my own. I cropped my feet out of this one.
Tomorrow - miscellaneous. Monday, back to the gym after a 2 week absence. Etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Studio Six crit day

Today was more-or-less a show & tell rather than a crit. It rained, so Randy came - wow! second time in a row! (she is a landscape gardener and we don't see her till winter, normally). She is almost finished with her spectacular Dear Jane quilt - atypical and a real departure for her, but working on it for the past year kept her sane during a very trying time. I made her lay it down for a minute on the couch so I could shoot it, so this is only a portion and it's lopsided - but it is gorgeous.
Lisa brought her piece from a couple of weeks ago; we had talked about how she could quilt it. Here is a detail and then, the whole piece.
Rachel brought some fabrics she had worked on earlier this week, but my pictures were blurry - so next time. Tomorrow, Rachel and I are going to join Judy Langille's 8 week class at the Newark Museum. Signing up for a class seems to be the only way I can get play time these days.

Tonight, I am still stitching facings - it would be better if I were a tv watcher. But I'll put on my classical music and I'll be fine.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


The desert is full of textures: spiny, prickly, feathery and every other texture you can think of. Can you tell this thing is taller than I am?

There was a cactus garden behind the inn with wonderful variety. I had bought some wonderful cacti at the end of last summer, with great hopes. They died. What a nerve! I finally got something I didn't have to water too often and they didn't have the good grace to survive. Bleh. Now I am stuck with a big bag of cactus potting mix in my garage. Maybe I'll check the garden center again to see if they have any left this summer that are half price. Am I a glutton for punishment?

Here is another of the cacti growing around the inn.

Below, a pomegranate tree. Did you know that pomegranates grew on trees? I was so tempted.

Just before 5:00 on Saturday, as all of the shops were closing, a few of us wandered into a leather shop. Bev Snow and I each bought a bag of -- textures!!! Perfect for printing, rubbing, and who knows what else. What a deal! Today I was in again, working on deadline pieces - except for a trip to Whole Foods so we could have something in the fridge. I mean - I did not have ONE vegetable. Not even a rotten carrot. Can you imagine? I have two carrots now - really, they sell loose carrots at Whole Foods. And pomegranate juice.

Tomorrow I am having lunch with my friend Tim. We worked together in the early-to-mid '90s when we were both working for an outplacement firm. He is a psychologist who saved my sanity more than once, working for the boss from hell. We've kept in touch sporadically but last time I saw him was at his wedding a couple of years ago. Recently, a colleague of ours died unexpectedly; someone dear to both of us. We had each had the "let's have lunch when the schedules clear" conversation with our friend -- but during the past year, it never happened. Tim and I decided to make time for lunch with each other - so I'm meeting him between (his) clients tomorrow to catch up. Life is too short.

On another subject: see this?? Builder's almond formica. Door below the sink does not close. Drop-in sink is chipped around the edge and I have cut myself more than once.
Timer for the self-cleaning is broken and they don't make 'em any more. Upper oven burns everything. Lower oven's pilot light goes out unless the temp is 450 degrees. The almond tile floor gets dirty five minutes after it has been washed. Hopeless.I need to announce to my children that I am not doing Thanksgiving this year. I have found a cabinet guy and am waiting for the contractor to call me with some numbers for doing the whole job. Meantime, i continue to be obsessed with tile floors, backsplash, countertops, and all the rest. Well, it keeps me out of trouble.

UH - to keep this art related - I hope my sense of color and texture will help me as I'm picking out all the new stuff.

Monday, October 08, 2007

where have I been?

You can pretty well guess if you look at the picture. Last Thursday, Judy Langille and I flew to Arizona to attend the annual conference of the Art Cloth Network. Eleven of us, including Susie Monday of El Cielo Studio, gathered to talk business, share our work, inspire each other, and learn from one another.

We arrived at the Amado Inn, near Tucson,on Thursday and we spent Friday on business and sharing work until it was time to go to the opening of our exhibit, Alterations, juried by Elin Noble. This dazzling artcloth exhibit was at the Tubac Art Center. I did not have time to make pieces of art cloth to submit to the show, so I could just enjoy it as an observer.

Judy Langille with Susie Monday in one of her art cloth jackets, are obviously enjoying themselves.
Here's another cluster, including Carol Larson (seated, in mustard jacket, with Susie) and Susan Ettl in black, standing on the right.
Still on west coast time (seems to be the story of my life) so I'll fall into bed and finish the rest of the report tomorrow.

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 ...