Saturday, December 29, 2007

a grand day

I watched the grandkids yesterday. Josh & Ben most of the day, then David & Jake from late afternoon till about 9:30. All four overlapped for a while and I tried to get them to sit for a civilized photo. Everybody else's grandchildren comply -- but this crew? Like herding cats. As soon as they see a camera, they start clowning so this was about as good as it got. Jake in back, David, Josh, & Ben in front. Offstage, Hilary laughing in spite of herself at her sons and nephews. One more picture: Jake, who turned four in October, signed into some kid game site on my laptop by typing in his screen name and password(!). Hand on mouse as he played, the intense look of concentration was too much for me to resist. ((Ignore fabric spilling off shelves and onto floor in background, please).

I'm taking a blog break just now from sewing down the facings I referred to in the last post. The sewing is a nice change of pace. I had a title brainstorm tonight and was so happy! Normally I have a terrible time naming my pieces; Helene and Rachel have named several of them for me and I am always trolling for suggestions. But tonight, as I looked at my two new ones, I realized that they were fraternal twins. Their shared name popped into my head and I'm done. Isn't it nice when that happens?

Tomorrow we head into NY to stay with our friends Rosalie & Arthur, who have a pied à terre on the east side. Marty and I have spent every New Year's Eve with them for the 25 years we have been married -- sometimes dinner at home, other times dinner out and a movie locally or in the City. Decades ago we used to go to a Broadway or off-b'way show; in those days nobody went to the theatre New Year's Eve so tickets were plentiful and cheap. No more. We'd rather spend $$$$ on a good meal. The last few years we've gone to a little neighborhood (East side Manhattan) French restaurant that is always lovely, intimate, and with good food. Tomorrow, we plan to go down to the Bowery to the New Museum (yes, it's new) and then stay downtown for dinner and a movie, not necessarily in that order. Monday the Metropolitan Museum is open - so we'll see what we feel like doing.

One more tidbit and then back to the facings. My son Jeremy was in New Orleans a few days ago on biz. He flew home Friday night.Behind him in first class, Kevin Bacon and Kiera Sedgwick, who had been there hammering for Habitat in the 9th ward. Coincidentally, Claire Fenton and her daughter had been at the same house on Thursday and saw them at work. (Claire, where's that picture you snapped??) I won't go into Jeremy's long description of how they got onto the plane, of how the were dressed (causually) or what they discussed as they sat behind him - but he got a kick out of being in such proximity on a small plane (only 8 seats in first class). And he left them to their privacy.

I'm not sure I'll have WI-FI over the weekend - so if not, I'll take lots of pictures and post on Tuesday when we get back. A happy, healthy to all of you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

in memorium and catching up

Before I go on, I need to say how heartbroken I am about the assasination of the beautiful Benazir Bhutto. Aside from the political reasons - one more voice for democracy silenced by extremists - FOR WHAT???? I feel it on a personal level. If I hunted long and hard, I could probably find my photos of her, taken at Todd Gillman's graduation from the Kennedy School at Harvard. She had attended Radcliffe and was Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time -- probably around 1989. It was a small class, and afterward she mingled with the parents and families of the graduates. I remember chatting with her; she was warm, down-to-earth, and very charming. How impressed I was by her strength, her politics, her leadership, and her naturalness. And how sad and angry I am right now.

I think this is the third time this week I have attempted to post. Each time I've been interrupted by something or someone. Last night, it was a call that my mother was on her way to the hospital with "a touch of pneumonnia." (is that like being a little bit pregnant?) She'll be fine - I was chatting with her for a couple of hours this afternoon and have seen her in much worse shape.

I've been working at home this week. Christmas was ultra-restful. Marty, not feeling up to par, slept the day away. I quilted two pieces and attached the facings, which need to be sewn down by hand. After having read Cathy Kleeman's blog post about how she wonder-unders down her facings, I decided to try it. As I suspected, it was not for me. Without going into details, suffice it to say I am back to sewing them down.

I spent yesterday getting a pile of work ready for an exhibit that opens January 6 from 1-3 pm at the Gaelen Gallery at the JCC in West Orange, NJ. It is called "Ellis Island Memories" and it is a two person exhibit: the other artist is a photographer who has taken many pictures of the old buildings on Ellis Island. My piece, "Journey," incorporates some of my great-grands' documents. Here is Zeida's passportand his green card. It really was green! He was a baker so I come by it naturally.
I don't know where these are now: my mother had them and I borrowed them to scan them into my computer. How was I to know I should not have given them back?
On another subject, I brought home a pile of fabrics from the studio yesterday so I could work at home . Here is part of one I printed with a tape resist.( Remember, you saw it here first.)
In a moment of madness yesterday I grabbed a piece of fabric that had been sitting around and decided to warm up my quilting stitches on it. I must have been in the mood for red and purple.
I don't understand how my flash created a reflection on this matte fabric.

Tomorrow, Josh & Ben will be here for a while; Hilary is going to work for a couple of hours and they, of course, are on vacation. Josh will be 9 in March and Ben was just 7. We will have an art day while the kitchen is still a disaster area. Not sure what will be after it is done. The contractor was here tonight with the electrician so I could ask questions and make some lighting decisions. I suspect the price will escalate a bit after tonight...oh, well. If I sell enough books, maybe I can pay for the undercabinet lights - LOL.

Yawning after this long post, so it is time to go upstairs and get enough sleep to get me through tomorrow's energy requirements. David and Jake (7 and 4) will be here later in the day: all four of them have to collect their Chanukmas presents which are sorely overdue.

As usual, I will try to be better about posting. Now that I have finished my book, you would think I'd have more time. But NO. Whose law is it that you fill all the space with what you have? Nature abhors a vacuum? Whatever.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


There was a discussion on one of the lists to which I belong: struggling to create something that is in your head. This is related to the "crap quota" (aka you have to kiss a lot of frogs) that we were talking about in a previous post. EVERYBODY struggles. I have had a piece on my wall for months; I keep rearranging it, taking digital pictures of it, and rearranging it again. By now, I think I have lost it entirely - but I might look back at my photos to see if anything I rejected strikes me again. A well known, admired, respected artist whose work is simply beautiful wrote a long and frank post about her ongoing struggle to create a piece she sees so clearly in her head: nada, niente, rien, zip, zed. It isn't happening. Well known, exceptionally talented, she has the same creative angst as the rest of us when it isn't working. Some pieces will never get made...and others will get made but just miss by THAT much, the concept or vision you had before you began. For ten years I knew I wanted to make a piece about a particular subject. I tried umpteen times to find a way - and finally, it got made. I'm not entirely satisfied with it - but I AM done. It is time to move on, satisfying or not. No pictures tonight. I am working on stuff I don't want to publish at the moment - and anyway, I left the card reader for my Nikon in the office. Grrrr. So, having imbibed 47 gal of chicken soup with ginger and hot peppers, and an equal amount of echinacea tea, I will go to bed and sleep all those antioxidants off. Tomorrow, I will feel swell. I will go take my daughter to the doctor, to the supermarket, and then I will take myself to a holiday get-together of all the Franklin St. Studio artists.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sniffle, sniffle, ah-choo!

Too early in the season for this stuff: my husband and I are both sneezing. I felt it incubating last night when I dreamed I had a sore throat. I shall root around and see if I can find an anti-sneeze med before I go to sleep.

In the meantime, my package from Dharma arrived with this cute little geometric inside.
It's not as though I NEED another tjap: my bins are overflowing, believe me. But as my father used to say, "what does NEED have to do with it?"

I worked at home today, which amounted to putting more stitching on an already finished piece and then removing the facing because the piece looked lopsided to me. I trimmed and trimmed and it still looks lopsided, so I guess it is meant to be that way. Tomorrow, I have to put the facings back on. How boring. I would much rather be making something new.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Last week I met another artist who showed me the doodles she makes while she sits in meetings. They were as elaborate as some tattoos, with complex designs and undulating lines - gorgeous: I wish I had had my camera. Her doodles reminded me of the perfect, incredibly detailed ruby liths my friend Randy used to cut for screen printing. (ruby lith is thin, flexible, translucent, dark red material, used for masking areas of a light sensitive medium).

My doodles, on the other hand, are mostly boxes. Geometric, simple, boring. Here is the notepad I used when I was on the phone with the very same artist.I do recall that her doodles were in the margins and on parts of the page where there was no writing, but I see that my doodling is more integrated with the notes, making me think that the combination of text and images in my work is one step from the page. Never thought about it before. Have you taken a look at your doodles lately? (why does that sound vaguely obscene?) - and do they bear any resemblance to motifs in your art? Something to ponder. Or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

crap quota

There is a pretty interesting, often funny, discussion happening on the QuiltArt list and the Complex Cloth list - thanks to Jane Steinberg's response to somebody's complaint that her own art wasn't as good as she'd like it to be.

According to Jane (o wise woman) you gotta keep working and working. (Art & Fear says the same thing: the more stuff you produce, the more likely you are to get ONE good piece). Lots of it will be crap (we know that, don't we?) till you get the few really good pieces. But nobody expects every piece to be a masterpiece. Well, maybe some people do - but those are unrealistic expectations.

Jane talks about everybody having a baseline of crappy work they have to have in order to get to the good stuff; from now on referred to as the crap quota. I've exceeded my minimum and am well on my way to a huge inventory of it (aren't you??).

Just yesterday I was at the museum printing fabric. Unfortunately, all my good screens were at the studio and I had to use what I had. So, here are two contributions to my quota of crappy fabric.

More candidates for "Can this Fabric be Saved?", which I will work on tomorrow when I finally get to the studio. There was talk on the above-mentioned lists about having a vision in mind and not being able to achieve it. I find it is better if I don't have a vision. Makes life easier.
What about you?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ta da!!!

The word is out! Gloria Hansen got the C&T spring catalog and announced it on Quilt Art - saving me the trouble of doing it myself! Thanks, Gloria.

So, cat is out of bag. Coming in June 2008 - packed with information on everything I've covered in workshops - AND MORE! If you've taken a workshop with me, it will give you even more ways to print great art cloth. If you haven't - this will be almost as good (although not as much fun, I admit - LOL).

To reserve your autographed copy hot off the press, click here.

It's been a year in which I couldn't blog about most of what I was doing (as Dale Anne said - HOLY CRAP!! No wonder you have been so quiet on your blog lately.) Thanks, Dale Ann, I fell over laughing at that one! Too true. But the results are finally on their way to fruition. Yay!

There's a lot more to come - I'm getting into teaching season, the kitchen will be demolished in January, I hope, and I am preparing for a TV appearance on Quilting Arts new exciting series for PBS. Maybe I can squeeze in some studio time?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Anybody who knows me, knows that in the house I am always barefoot. Otherwise, I live, for the most part, in my Birks. In winter, if there is no snow, I make a concession to the cold and put on socks if I am going to be out for more than 5 minutes. Or if it is really bitter or snowy,I wear my Cole Haan 2 or 3 year old shearling clogs - no socks. That's IT.

But today I was a FACILITATOR in a NY City office, so I had to wear shoes. They were my dress-up clogs (black, of course, to match my black pants, shirt, and jacket) - but by the time I caught the bus home, my feet were burning.

I had been approached by the executive director of a non profit organization to run a creativity workshop for the staff to kick off their holiday party season. It was a half-day workshop that included some of the exercises from my 'Jump-starting the Art Quilt' workshop and some image transfer - and it was a real change of pace for them! For people who claimed not to be artists, they came up with some wonderfully creative work in short order and had great fun! They are making a quilt from felt, fabric, fusibles and mixed media and it will be an ongoing project that will go into the New Year. I was too busy to take photos but I did snap the above in an idle moment.

I brought along this piece (remember it from a June post?) that was an experiment on fusible batting. I showed it today as an example of what could be perceived as an art quilt , just to give the group an idea of what they could do with felt and scissors.The piece was not finished. I had backed it with canvas and planned to do something with it one of these days. Before the afternoon was over, it was sold. One of the staff members fell in love with it and is probably going to frame it. I was taken by surprise, but delighted that somebody else will enjoy living with it. This is the only picture I have of the piece.

I am learning to separate from my work. I remember the days when I couldn't part with anything and was simply not ready to sell my work. What was I thinking?? In the last month or two, I have sold two pieces that were so new I had not had time to get sick of them. That is progress.

All in all,another wonderful day. My feet are recovering slowly. But next time, corporate office or not, I shall remember that I am an ARTIST and as such, can wear my Birks to facilitate.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

class is over

Lots of hugs all around, as everybody scattered for home - except for me. I will leave tomorrow. Laura cater-woods is teaching here next week and I'm waiting for her to arrive so we can have dinner and spend some all-too-rare time together. One of the joys of teaching is being able to cross paths with some of my favorite people who also teach, but live elsewhere in the country (or the world). When we get within shouting/driving distance of each other, it's great. When Liz Berg teaches at the Hudson Valley Arts Workshop next year, I'll probably drive the 2.5 hours to see her because she lives in California. When I taught on Whidbey Island a couple of years ago, I had a fun dinner with Larkin Van Horn, who lives there. When Gabrielle Swain taught in New Jersey a few years ago, we had lunch between her classes. (Gabrielle - I am still waiting for another martini event - but I'll catch up with you at some point!). And so forth. In the meantime, Blogger is finally behaving itself so I can post some of the in-process pieces being made with Terri Lipman's shared fabric. Oh, dear - I shall have to find something to keep me busy for the rest of the day. I did bring my sewing machine and will probably go and stitch on a piece I've been carrying around with me for a while. Then, I may see if the local flea market is open. Of course, what I should do is prepare for my next workshop, which will be a creativity workshop for a corporate group in New York next week. But first, I'll take a coffee break...

Friday, December 07, 2007

last day

The week is about over and it has been big time fun. Today, our field trip was to a local (well, what they call local around here, anyway) fabric store so some people could find commercial fabric to use with the fabric they had printed. Here is a before and after from Priscilla. Screenprinted,then she washed out the green paint, and finally a third layer of wax and paint.

Ha! It is the famous Terri Lipman, fondling one of her favorite pieces from the past few days.
Today, she generously cut up a piece of fabric she had printed (not the one above) and gave everyone a piece, with my proviso that they each use it before the day was over. I'd post some pix but Blogger is not cooperating. Grrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

it's still Wednesday

Internet and cell phone service are a bit unpredictable here, so I thought I'd better continue while I still have a signal. We are eating much too well (no, I am not posting pix of food). Everybody has gone back to the studio for the evening session and I'm uploading some more photos of the fabric. The befores and afters are really interesting.


and now, time to go back to the studio and see what mischief they are making with today's purchases.

goodness, it's Wednesday!

This was day 3 of Surface Design for Art Quilts and it has been non-stop since Monday. Class from 9-4 and then, of course, going back to the studio at night for a couple of hours. Today we took a field trip and the class spent all afternoon buy things they simply had to have for printing. We hit 3 dollar stores, the supermarket, the bakery (well, not for printing), the Rite-Aid, the lumber store, and the auto supply store. Saying they are obsessed is an understatement.

This group is so motivated they don't want to stop! We have done something different every day and their work is getting better and better. Two of the students have not done surface design before and they are having the time of their lives discovering what they can do to cloth. Here is Mary on Monday with her first printed fabric. Can you tell she hates every minute? These are a couple more of her "beginner" pieces.

The first day, we had a little trouble with the hot water faucet, which had no handle because the screw thingies (threads?) were stripped. After we had spent a day struggling to turn it on with a pliers, Maddie decided to find another solution. She wrapped the faucet knob in duct tape and after that, it was easy! Thank you, Maddie.Here is one of Maddie's gelatin-plate printed pieces. That's all for now. I have to go back to the studio and see what mischief they are making - or maybe put my feet up till the next gourmet meal...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

the weather outside is frightful

the Greenville Arms, delightful. Thanks goodness I outran the snow,which has caught up with me about 5 hours after I left home. Woke up this morning to slushy, slippery streets in NJ and my car covered in powder. When I got to Greenville, 3 hours later, the roads were totally dry and it hadn't begun to snow yet. I'm inside, catching up with e-mail and staying in touch on the blog. Here's what greets you when you enter the inn. Chocolates to tempt the most diet-conscious. Chocolate goodies for sale in the former parlor, too. And out of the picture, tables loaded with fabrics and anything else you might need for an art quilt workshop. A former carriage house has been turned into a huge classroom, with two guest rooms upstairs. I guess it's time for me to get over there and set up for tomorrow so I can enjoy the wine and cheese at 6:00 tonight. Will check in later. Stay warm, everyone!

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 ...