Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow, Ohio Coffee & other treats

Despite the fact that I still have no e-mail service at rgillman@studio78.net, I am relatively cheerful. Glad to be home, but I must say the last few days were a blast!

Claire Waguespack Fenton and I met at the Cleveland Airport Saturday, where each of us had arrived (she from her native South Louisiana, I from my native New Jersey) to tape a brief guest appearance on Quilting Arts TV. The producer was kind enough to schedule our taping on the same day so we could see each other - a event that occurs once every several years. What a treat!

Even more of a treat was the beautiful Ohio weather. Here is Claire, outside the hotel, taking a picture of the surrounding landscape.
She was thrilled to see REAL snowflakes and virgin snow and I was happy it was a wet, light dusting that didn't make the roads hazardous while I was driving in unfamiliar territory.
One of the trip's high points for Claire was the following experience - a first for her. It was difficult for me to give the pleasure of this activity over to her, but I made the sacrifice.
Anybody who knows us is aware that we are both addicted to STRONG, delicious coffee: Claire, to that wonderful New Orleans chicory coffee - and me, to a fragrant espresso (and this leaves out Starbucks). Because we both like it strong, we stacked two coffee in our room's coffeepot. Here is the transparent, tea-colored brew that resulted. Can you imagine what it would have looked like with only ONE pod?
But, we did not let weak coffee deter us from enjoying ourselves. Sunday, we found a day spa and pampered ourselves with massages, manicures, and pedicures. It was a lovely afternoon, followed by a hunt for a dollar store (futile) and a good bottle of wine (successful). Well, successful once we got past the dry cork and the non-working corkscrew.Monday was taping day and we got up at the crack of dawn to be at the studio for the makeup artist to apply the war paint. I'm not sure it helped, but it was de rigeur for the camera. The segments were taped straight through, and were a fun and interesting experience. The studio staff, camera crew, and Pokey's staff were simply great. And of course, Pokey & John are genuinely nice people with tremendous reserves of energy. Here we are, between segments.
And here I am, in the green room (yes, it really is GREEN) with my post-taping purple hands.
This picture captures the spirit of the whole experience!
So much for the required manicure for the camera.

On Sunday, Jane Davila and her husband Carlos arrived for Jane's Tuesday taping. Along with Shelly Stokes, we all went out to dinner. Judy Perez came in from Chicago yesterday to tape her segments and last night, Claire, Judy and I had a fabulous, authentic, Lebanese meal and a delightful evening.
Claire and I stopped back at the studio en route to the airport so we could say goodbye once again, and now we are back to real life. Fun while it lasted!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Wow! What an exciting topic! I guess it could be art and design related, huh? I have been surfing the plumbing supply websites in search of a faucet I could love for my powder room. Can you tell what a sad place my life is in if this is the big excitement? I fell in love with the faucet above, but papa bear thought it was too narrow and didn't relish a flat ribbon of water falling on his hands (in a sink he rarely uses).

So, back to drawing board. He really liked THIS one, but it seemed too ordinary to me. He thinks it's graceful and he has a point: but, eh ...
I kept looking. Then I found this one which was a good compromise. The graceful spout and the contemporary bottom part. I think it will do.
As you might imagine, I have been making quite a study of faucets. Some of the most daring and expensive ones are in the ladies' room at MOMA. These fancy, expensive AXOR faucets dribble water all over the countertops and whoever bought them for MOMA was obviously more concerned with design than function. It makes me roll my eyes every time!

I could go on about what most of the "designer" faucets remind me of, but I won't. I wil, instead, head for my beauty sleep so I can be ready for the flight to Cleveland tomorrow.
I will keep you posted if there is anything wonderful to say.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

e-mail hell

It started last night when the Homestead server refused to forward my rgillman@studio78.net mail to my comcast server. After five years of forwarding my mail through my website, H-mail has decided that rgillman@comcast.net is not a valid address. 24 hours almost nonstop on the "$#@&$)@#I phone with those people and they still haven't figured out what the problem is.

Bottom line - for the time being, till Homestead gets its act together, I am using (against my grain) rgillman@comcast.net as an e-mail address. Bleh. It has no pzzazz. It is boring. All the spammers use it. But you need to use it, too - for now. I have had to change it in every yahoogroup I belong to, every other group (oops, forgot dyers list) - and I have wasted an entire day with this. I am, putting it as an understatement, greatly peeved.

With all this phone time, it is a miracle that I have managed to print a few things in the last 24 hours. I know we've talked before about how our environment subconsciously influences our art but it still always amazes me to see the relationships. As I was going through some of the pieces I printed recently, I observed...

the rag rug in the front hall
a screened fabric
my mother's blouse
another screenprint
I did a bunch of gelatin prints, too - but they are for another time. I am done printing for now; tomorrow, I have to get my nails done for my TV taping. It is kind of funny because in the space of one minute, I will undoubtedly have blue paint or some such all over my hands.

Saturday morning I leave. I do hope this e-mail business gets sorted before I go - but I have a feeling it won't. Nevertheless, I will try to find time to report.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I don't have a lot to show for today

Another Monday that felt like Saturday. Marty slept in and I had to get out early this morning - I really dislike getting up early on a Monday morning; reminds me of all those years I trudged to the office. The up-side was a regular paycheck - and of course, I was several decades younger.

Tonight I decided to do some gelatin printing. Although my students always manage to get some fabulous results, I seem to get a lot of blobs. Tonight I had blobs of painted gelatin on my cloth because as the gelatin was deconstructing, the cloth picked it up. Did you ever iron gelatin? Don't try it at home.

I laugh at my husband because he looks at abstractions and always has to see a THING or a PERSON and then tell me what he is seeing. On the other hand, what I like about gelatin is the amorphous, organic results that let me play the same game. Remember the magazine Highlights that used to be in all the pediatricians' offices? My daughter Jessica used to look for the hidden things in the picture - she called the game "Hidden Found."

Here is my hidden found for tonight. Does it rate a chuckle or a groan, or both?

Early to bed: it's not even midnight! Tomorrow, the hairdresser and then back home to pack up supplies and ship 'em out. After that, back to the gelatin.

sow's ear

That's what I call this piece, which I just finished stitching. I am rather pleased with the way it turned out, despite the fact that it is not typical of what I do anymore. But I need to be doing mindless work these days. The border, btw, is not red, no matter what your monitor says. It is salmon.

I am not sure that you can see the stitching from here, but it makes a difference of sorts. I am on a mission, as I may have mentioned before, to simplify my stitching and not agonize over how I should stitch a piece when it is done. Getting there, bit by bit.

Cleaned up my room again for a change today because I couldn't think straight. This is mess.
This is a less mess, but much better. The table is moved, the design wall is clean, and I can think. As you can see, Sow's Ear is on the table. This gives me the illusion of working.
Actually, I have spent the weekend putting together a lecture in Powerpoint which I can then show on my new digital projector instead of using slides. A pricey but convenient way to give slide lectures. Tonight, I tried out my new projector. It is cute and small and I should be able to travel with it easily.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

why orange?

It is far from my favorite color, and yet, taking inventory of the fabric I have printed this past year, I find that much of it is orange or has orange in it. Today, I finally went to the studio for a few hours. I meant to stop in for a minute but was so happy to be there that I stayed - and overprinted a couple of pieces of fabric. One was a throwaway, the other is on some kind of journey without a destination - seems to be a pattern. I brought them home, steamed and washed them, and realized how many pieces I have in that color. This is the tip of the iceberg. I have a wall full of yellows/oranges/reds/rusts in the studio. I added orange to yesterday's piece and it is happy on an orange background. Obviously, I have a craving for that color: what is going on?

Here is an interesting website about chakra colors - if you forget that they are selling gemstones and crystals, the information is pretty interesting and gave me a good idea of what is going on.
When this Chakra is blocked we experience guilt, stiff lower back, restlessness, confusion...
I guess I am trying to bring my Chakras back into balance, because orange is the color of joy, enthusiasm and creativity and promotes a general sense of wellness.

Looking at these fabrics, I feel better already. In fact, I just took an on-line chakra test and guess which chakra came out as my strongest. Yep, the 2nd one - connected to orange.

Then there is green: my soapstone counters-to-be are green: I MUST have green - not black, not grey: green!! No matter that it will morph to a dark green -- I crave that color in my new kitchen.
Green is the color of balance. It also means learning, growth, renewal, and harmony. Green is the color of nature. It brings peace and harmony into our lives. It is the color of Healing and Hope, optimism, freedom, balance. Bottom line - with all these sick family members, I am ready for some healing, hope, freedom, and balance.

I found a lot of interesting quizzes tonight - this is just one of them. What Color is Your Brain? Click on the link below the picture to find out what color your brain is.
Right now, color mine fuzzy.

What Color Is Your Brain?

anatomy of a sow's ear

Thanks for all your suggestions for this piece - especially the ones that suggested I donate it! In the meantime, last night I got busy with my rotary cutter and sewing machine and did a cut-and-paste, figuring I'd try that first. Here's the short version of the sequence from hopeless to something that makes me think there is hope for almost everything. You might want to click to get a closer look at these.

The vivid reds and oranges and the background fabric are from Helene Davis Hand-Dyes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

in the "what was I thinking?" category...

I unearthed this THING yesterday and decided it was a candidate either for triage or garbage. I'll try the former, first.

I know what I was thinking: I was looking for a way to combine my hand-prints with some ugly commercial fabric I had sitting around and decided to put somebody else's head on my shoulders. It didn't work. Rachel and I got hysterical over its ugliness and I shoved it under a pile of stuff. Good move. It is butt ugly.
So here I am, challenging myself to improve it. (Is this a big waste of my precious time??) It looks like a checkerboard gone mad; I have already put it into my "oops" folder. What would YOU do with it?

happy hour

Not only is it 5:00 somewhere, it is 5:00 HERE. The salmon (wild) is marinating, the sweet potatoes and samosas (alas, not homemade - they are on my list of "someday, I will make these.") are in the oven, and I have already sautéd the bok choy in garlic and ginger. Today I am packing supplies to take to Cleveland: a whole suitcase full of paints, screens, and fabrics. I may yet unpack and put them in a box to ship them, but it is less expensive to let Continental airlines take them. I've double-wrapped my ProChem paints in newspaper, plastic, and bubble wrap, but I am willing to bet they get opened and not properly closed again. It has happened before. My clothes are going in the small suitcase. But of course, I have almost two weeks to unpack, rearrange, repack, and do it again.

This morning I went to the Gaelen Gallery at the JCC to do a gallery talk about my exhibit to the "senior citizens" group that meets there every week, or for all I know, every day. (I hate that term, don't you? Senior, forgodsake - I hate to think where they are going after they graduate.)

The group was lively, bright, and had interesting questions -- but it was beforehand and afterwards that I was blown away by conversations with two people. Before the program started, one of the gallery employees came in to tell me what an impact this piece had had on him.
It's the GHETTO,he said. It looks just like where I grew up in the PROJECTS in Newark: everybody squeezed in like sardines - buildings close together, people killing each other: the PROJECTS. Yes, I said - it was Poland and it was a PROJECT - a Soviet apartment block, concrete, chipped, falling off the building, laundry hanging from the balconies, impersonal, ugly, poor - a government project in Eastern Europe. But it could have been anywhere.We talked about the word GHETTO and how it is an Italian word that means "foundry." The first ghetto was in 16th Century Venice, in the area where there was a metal foundry. The word has since taken on a broader meaning, of course.

We then had a discussion about government-built housing - the projects of the '60's - well meaning but ill-conceived -- now being blown up and replaced by town houses. David, the man I was speaking to, was sure that every government in the world had the same set of plans, passed from one to the other: whether in Dubai, Italy, France, or in Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Cleveland, - urban blight created by tearing down neighborhoods and building monolithic, impersonal, housing. The issues are more complex than we could have talked about in the 15 minutes we were together, but it was a stimulating conversation.

There are certain universals - and I was so happy that my art struck a chord with this man, who is an artist himself, and that he had been in to look at that piece many times in the week since it went up. For me, that is what all art is about: having the viewer bring his/her own experiences & sensibilities to a piece and having a dialog with it. Don't you feel that way, too?

The second high point came after the program, as I was walking out. A woman named Helen approached me and told me that her heart stopped when she saw this piece:
I was in Auschwitz, she said. I wouldn't go back to visit. Sent to the camps as a child with her parents and brother, she, her father, and her brother somehow survived. She showed me her tattoo - the blue numbers on her left forearm, there since she was a child. The wires were electrified at night, but not during the day, she said. The matron liked me and would give me extra bread,so I took it to the fence and threw it to my father. She was 14 when the camps were liberated, met her husband at 15 and married at 16.

I hardly knew what to say: it was the first time I had ever spoken to a survivor about her/his experience. When I was a child there was a couple who had a handbag store in Montclair. They had numbers tattoo'd on their forearms and my parents used to whisper about the fact that they had been in the camps. It was not ever a subject to be brought up in their presence but it was difficult not to look.

I went to give a gallery talk this morning and I got far more in return than I was able to give.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Someone recently suggested that I should post the highlights of my blog from last year but I didn't think there were any. Nonetheless, tonight, as I approach my third bloggiversary (end of this month) I decided to look back and make a list of which posts over the last 3 years have garnered the most comments. So, FWIW - here are the top 10. If you are new to reading my blog or ever have absolutely nothing better to do (right!) you might want to see what all the comments were about. I was rather surprised to see that some of the posts I considered to be more interesting did not get nearly as many comments as some of these. Go figure. Name that Piece But is it Art? Ta Da! Working in a Series and other Digressions Working in a Series, continued Tagged Chanukah - story & traditions The Last Word How Old are you Now? A New Wrinkle

Friday, January 11, 2008


My woods in Autumn -- they don't look real, do they?
This is the view of my woods in winter. At their most beautiful, I think.
In April. This tree never loses its dead leaves. They really aren't MY woods - but I can pretend, can't I? View from the deck.
Here is one piece they inspired - sold before I even finished it. Raw edge on fusible batting.
Oh, good grief - oil on canvas. Downright embarrassing. But I had to try.Here is another version-- deconstructed screen printing on paper.Deconstructed on fabric.
And here is the piece from yesterday's blog that I have cut and made into a horizontal.
Screenprinted over a piece of fabric I had batiked and was not happy with. Now I am happy but what happens next remains to be seen.

a week of Saturdays

I can finally identify with all those people who don't know what day it is. When you never go out and every day is the same, you have no way of differentiating. The past 10 days have been like that for me, except for last Sunday when I attended the opening of my two-person show at the Gaelen Gallery in West Orange. The theme was Ellis Island Memories and the other artist is Paul Margolis, a photographer whose haunting photos of the abandoned, deteriorating hospital buildings were beautiful, stark,and very moving. I walked out without my camera that ,day, so he took photos of my work before the show opened to the public. Thank you, Paul, for taking these.
It has been a week of Saturdays, including today, when Marty's new Dell laptop was delivered and I spent ALL DAY setting it up, connecting the new router, figuring out Vista, getting him his own e-mail address so that we won't clutter up each others' inboxes, and helping him with passwords to his various business sites. He uses a computer all day at work but is completely computer-illiterate. Don't ask how this is possible, but it is. I am DONE and have now gotten back to work, sort of.

Since I can't get to my studio till Marty goes back to work, and since I have disdismantled the downstairs print alcove, I am now printing on the kitchen table with a portable print surface.
Ah, the glamour of being an artist. The dim light in the kitchen is due to the drab compact fluorescent high-hat floods which are really horrible. BUT - I am experimenting with a new resist that has great potential, so I am excited. The paint is still drying and shortly I will try my experiment on another piece of cloth to see whether this is a fluke or not.

Notice the Surface Design Newsletter on the table (along with today's papers - now you know what the Gillman kitchen table really looks like). I promise myself I will read this SDA pub before I go to bed tonight.
Speaking of surface design - don't forget, if you are a surface design person who prints lengths of cloth, you may be a candidate for membership in the Art Cloth Network, which has some openings for new members this year. Application deadline is Feb. 15, so if you are interested in applying for membership in this terrific group, go to the website and click on "Join ACN" to download the application materials.

Finally, to answer a few comments from yesterday's blog:

Gerrie - I have been keeping strange hours and sleeping in till 11 the last few mornings. What a waste of time! And our kitchen hasn't started yet but our Caldera gas cooktop (made in Vermont) is being delivered tomorrow and will sit in the great room room for god-knows how long.

Linda - this is one piece of fabric that I haven't cut yet - so we'll see where it goes from here and how it gets rearranged.

Pam - I see the woods from the sliding glass doors in my kitchen, right beyond the chairs in the photo above. They are my joy, no matter what the season or the weather. What are not joyful are the huge, terrifying wild turkeys that live there. I counted 16 of them yesterday, 8 of which were under my deck at the sliding glass door on the lower level, and one of which was FLYING right outside the deck. Scary. But I love the woods anyway, despite the turkeys and the deer.

Back to the kitchen table.

more dominos

This is what my downstairs studio alcove looks like tonight, after several hours of moving things around. I had to get a lot out of the way because I'm going to ask the contractor to save the cabinets and pantry and put them downstairs for storage. I am not done yet, but I'm making progress.

Spoke to the cabinet guy, the floor guy, the contractor, and Feb 4 looks like an auspicious date.

Meantime, here is a piece of fabric that I screen printed on top of some batik that I had made. I shall meditate as I look at it. As I look at it, I realize how influenced my visuals are by my woods.
Hopefully, nobody will wake me too early tomorrow morning.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

domino effect

I am packing up my kitchen cabinet and drawer contents and putting them downstairs. Because I think I should reuse some of the cabinets for STORAGE in the alcove, I have to clear out the printing alcove, which will now become my husband's part-time office when he works at home in bad weather.

Tonight I began packing my dyes and paints so I can take down the shelf and had a few liquid dyes I hated to toss. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture.) These came out remarkably well for sitting-around-dyes, except for the dye that purported to be terra cotta. The red fabric, after washing, looks identical to the yellow. Otherwise, I am pleased with tonight's output.

While going through my fabrics, I came upon this piece of cloth I had printed a while ago and forgotten.
My first reaction was "what was I thinking?". I don't know how I printed the blue: no doubt a screening experiment. The silver. intended to improve the blue blobs, was a screen I made from a piece of cork tile. I find it kind of interesting now. The "cardboard cabanas," as Judy Carpenter refers to them, are ready to be quilted. That might be tomorrow's exercise. How to quilt a piece sans angst. And I will continue to empty the kitchen cupboards.

I'm kitchen obsessed and am enjoying reading about everybody else in Blogland who is doing kitchens. As usual, I am up too late.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

too close to call

I am riveted to WNYC - NY Public Radio - and so far, with 1/3 of the vote in, Hilary Clinton has 40%/Barak Obama had 36%. It started out much closer - and N.H. is exciting for the first time in years. McCain is projected as Republican winner. Life is full of surprises!

In the meantime, I have been playing. PLAYING!! Continuing my strip-sewing, I am actually just being silly tonight. It feels good!

My granddaughter walked into this room this afternoon and said "boy, there is a lot of junk in here." I responded "that's not junk, those are art supplies." "Sure looks like junk to me," she said as she walked out. Ha ha - she is not far off...but isn't it the same thing?

Back to the election returns...

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 ...