Thursday, May 29, 2008

evening stroll

After several weeks of staying in, I thought that it would be nice if we went out for dinner tonight. Understatement. I figured it would cheer up the patient if we dined elsewhere (i.e.- not in our kitchen, lovely though it may be). And it was bound to cheer up Nurse Rayna immeasurably. Indeed! It's soft shell crab season - and what could be better than that?? Saute'd in garlic, white wine, oil and served with a side of linguini - aaaaah.

After we got home I called Elinor, my friend next door, to go for a walk. Marty and I had walked earlier today and I knew I had to go back with my camera to capture this vision of loveliness, courtesy of our esteemed U.S. Postal Service.
In our condo development we have these cluster mailboxes. This one is in particularly sad shape and obviously, the USPS has gone to Home Despot and purchased a couple of horses and some 2x4's to solve the problem. It seems to be a permanent solution, since it has been like this for many months. How reassuring to know that our taxes are not being squandered on new mailboxes.

On another subject or two...rumor has it that my books are en route - whatever that means.
I am almost finished packing supplies for teaching at QSDS, and am still ironing fabric and trying to find a creative path. Have you ever noticed that when you are under pressure and trying too hard, nothing - but NOTHING happens?

I am tempted to make some Thermofax screens, just to distract myself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

blogarithm sold

If you subscribed to my blog (or any blog) with blogarithm, you know that it has sold itself to somebody-or-other. So far, the buyer has not come through with any blog-update e-mails, except for one horrible unreadable one that was full of text. They promise to get their act together, but meantime, I have put a FeedBlitz thingie on my blog. You can sign up with Feedblitz for updates. No ironing tonight.

why I need to iron

When I am at an impasse and absolutely nothing is happening on the creative front, I know it is time to iron my fabric. Last night was one of those times.

First, I moved my table, which was against the wall, so it sticks out into the room. Not as space-efficient but at least I am facing the window.
Last night, I ironed for about two hours and this is how far I got.
I realized that if I did nothing but iron my bins of printed fabric 24/7 for the next year, I would still not make a dent. So why am I still printing? (rhetorical question).

But back to the topic at hand:
every time I iron (and I am sure I am not the only one) I see combinations I hadn't seen before and I start auditioning - throwing cloth at the wall to see what sticks, what works, what looks terrible, what has potential, and what I should throw into the - GASP - trash.

How do you work? This is how I work - and it is a slow process. If I'd taken pictures of all the possibilities I had with the fabric on the left, you'd fall asleep, so here are just two versions.

Then, I always find double-sided fabrics because I had not liked what I had printed, turned it over, and printed on the other side. These are always a revelation. Here's what I consider to be the front. The first layer, from what I can tell, was gelatin printed. Then I screened over it and it looks like I used a hand-carved stamp.
Here is the obverse. Looks like it was stamped with found objects and then I went in with the syringe.
And I came across this piece of fabric, stamped & stenciled with household objects and then syringed. Oh, how cute: what was I thinking? This is the other side.
It was obvious to me that this needs to be horizontal. But now what? Guess I'll have to play with it. But for the time being, it is in that pile on my table and tonight, it will be joined by whatever I iron after dinner.
Today I am packing supplies (for a change) and I think my much-needed break is over. For those of you who asked, Marty's eye is coming along and things are improving a teeny bit every day.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I love this quilt. It was 1993 and I had just quit the job from hell. I hadn't made a quilt since 1984, but the first thing I did after I left that job was to make this piece. It has polyester batting and it hangs over the bed in my guestroom. I saw an antique quilt with coffee cups - white with blue cups - in Jonathan Holstein's The Pieced Quilt (1971) and it was the most comforting thing I had ever seen. I needed one.

There was no pattern for it, so I drafted one on cardboard (I CANNOT believe I did that myself) added 1/4" around all the pieces, and went to work with scissors. If there were rotary cutters and omnigrids, I hadn't heard about it. The three on the first vertical row and the middle red cup (red striped seersucker) came from a blanket cover my grandmother had made from scraps she had brought home from the dress factory where she worked. I needed to give Nanny's old fabrics a new life. The rest I just filled in with whatever I had hanging around: some chintz, some calico: scraps. Here is a very bad picture of the 1910 quilt in the book that was the inspiration.
While I was looking for this book, I came upon 3 others that I highly recommend. One is Merikay Waldvogel's Soft Covers for Hard Times. Those depression quilts are quirky and wonderful - and if Ruth Clement Bond's quilts aren't ART, I don't know what IS. The book seems appropriate reading for today's nouveau depression, especially considering the amount of redwork and retro fabric I saw at quilt market.

The other two are about fifties fabrics. I seem to remember buying them in Lancaster one year, along with some bark cloth I was going to use but never have. It's in my trunk, along with antique blocks and who-knows what other fabric treasures. You'll see that everything old is new again. These books will make you smile.
Tonight, it's back to the fabric stash to see if I can pull anything out of it and put it together so it makes visual sense. But first, I am going to make a cup of coffee to toast this quilt that was the precursor to where I am today.

well, it didn't take long

for my home studio to get back to normal - or what passes for normal around here. Ahhhh - this means I'm working. It has been so long since I've looked at and handled my fabrics that I am actually rusty. It's like speaking French or riding a bike: it takes a bit of time for it to come back and feel comfortable and instinctive.

This delicious pile of fabrics is my attempt to audition various pieces so I can make a few small things. But I think I am too tired now, at 1:am, to make decisions. I already sewed facing to the front of a piece that has been sitting here since the year of The Flood...and I sandwiched another piece that needs to be stitched and photographed. So, I feel I have accomplished something tonight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

more on market

What a happy piece of fabric! I printed this spontaneously (how else?) as I was demonstrating some surface design at Market.
Pam Ronan had spotted the Crafter's Workshop stencil booth and I went over to see what was what. Wow! Not quilt stencils, but stencil stencils - and some with wonderfully abstract designs. I took them to class and then to the Checker booth to play with, and this was the result. I am not a stencil person, but I love these. I used them with paint and with Paintstiks.

For a gorgeous eyeful of Spring Market, go to Susan Brubaker Knapp's blog. She took pictures of the best displays at the show...not to mention having her picture taken with a regular rogue's gallery of who's who - LOL. Her report is totally different from mine and I'm sorry I had to leave a day early. Oh, well, I might have to go to Fall Market in Houston. Here is a picture of Susan and me after class; the pieces in the background all illustrated how hand prints can be combined easily and effectively with regular commercial fabrics.I didn't get too many pix at market because I was working. But I had to snap this picture. You can't see the whole quilt but don't need to. I just wish someone would explain to me why anybody needs to buy a pattern to make this quilt.
Meantime, Marty's eye surgery was an adventure (no, actually, the patient after anesthesia was the adventure) - but all went well and he is recovering.
Thanks to all of you who left messages and e-mailed. He won't have any vision in right eye for about 3 weeks, by which time I will be leaving for QSDS. EEEEEEEEK.

Every morning has been early-to-rise; tomorrow we do not have any appointments. Do you think I will be able to sleep late?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Art to Wear

You MUST go to Joanie San Chirico's blog and look at the images from Seams: Contemporary Art to Wear, the exhibit she curated for the Noyes Museum of Art! It is a feast for the eyes. Read her curator's statement first. In the meantime, we are off to the eye surgery appointment. Thanks for all your thoughts.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Landed in a rainy NJ late this afternoon but by the time I got home, the sun was coming out and I was happy to see my postage-stamp garden looking colorful.

Marty has a detached retina and lost fluid, so we don't know what the prognosis of the surgery will be. But I am home and we'll just manage it together.

Time zones are funny things. I was not in Portland long enough to accomodate and was still going to sleep at 9:30 and getting up at 3:30 or some such weird schedule. Now, it is almost 9:pm and I am ready to go to sleep in NJ. Will I wake up at 3:am?

Tomorrow, I will go through all my paperwork and sort the cards I collected so I can follow up with people i promised to contact. Tonight, just resting feet after all those convention center miles on concrete floors.

a.m and p.m.

View from my hotel room this morning at about 5:30View from another part of town tonight around 8:00.
Either way, it is beautiful here. Between dawn and dusk, a full day. Taught a class for shop owners this morning. Many had never done this before and had a blast!
demo'd various fun surface design things this afternoon at a distributor's booth, and tonight - dinner with Jane Davila, Terry Grant, and June Underwood. What stellar company! Here we are, having more fun than should be legal.
L-R - yrs truly, Terry, Jane, June
Are they having fun yet?

Unfortunately, all this merriment comes to an abrupt end as I fly home early tomorrow. Marty has a serious eye problem and needs surgery, so I'd rather be there than here - even 13 hours earlier. Will post from home when I can.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a quick note

My feet need to soak in a hot bath, but there isn't one here. Walked the convention center floor today and saw the new fabrics at lots of booths, noticed that the batting companies are using bamboo and corn to replace polyester, and that aprons are coming back into style. After a while, all those brown country things blend into one blur and you wonder why anybody wants to buy them. Then you notice that the booths are crowded with shop owners.
The convention center is very lovely.

Jane Davila and I noticed this group on our way out of the center tonight - all dressed the same way,wearing signes on their backs. When I asked if I could get a closer picture, they asked whether I wanted them to pose "en groupe." How nice of them. But I declined.
As I got closer, I saw what the signs said. The young woman in the back had a sign that said "quilter in training." It turned out that these were uniforms for people who all worked in the same fabric store. They don't wear them to work but instead, to "events." Hmmm.So Jane and I went to dinner. All the restaurants in Portland seemed to have broken air conditioning systems, as does my hotel. It is 80 degrees in my room: the window is open and the management sent in a fan. My husband says it is 55 degrees and pouring rain in NJ so I guess I should not complain. Then again, he does not need air conditioning for that weather. On the way back from dinner, we stopped to look at this street sculpture - an actual tree.
Here is a detail.
We attempted to take our own pictures, but they were so horrible we deleted them. Then a passerby offered to take them for us. Still not great, but here we are.
Tomorrow I have to get up at 5:30 to be at work, so I am going to sign off now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

to market, to market...

The day is over, I am back in my room, and tomorrow morning I hope to sleep late. We shall see. Being on east coast time, I was up at 4:am west coast time. NOT a good thing. Now it is almost 9pm Oregon time and almost midnight Rayna's body-time. (So I don't guarantee anything).

So, this will be short and sweet?. Busy today - but good. Started the day with a bang! A delightful time and a to-die-for breakfas t with the lovely and talented Terry Grant. What a treat! I simply love it when I get to "know" somebody on line and finally get to meet them in person and they are just a s fun and cool as you knew they would be. Don't you love when this happens to you???After breakfast, Terry went shopping and I hot-footed it over to the convention center. I spent the day wandering around and then attending various sessions given by other authors. Finally, I got my chance to talk about my book and then went to dinner with the wonderful C&T people.

I am going to sleep momentarily and hope to sleep in tomorrow morning - but I have the day free and will make the rounds at Market. Will post again when I can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome to Portland

I slept for most of the flight, after having gotten up at 3:30 a.m. Happily, the plane was not full and I was able to get an aisle seat in the exit row- plenty of leg room. Even better, the center seat was empty and the window seat was occupied by someone going to Market -- and we discovered we have common acquaintances. Of course!

The weather is iffy here - gray and chilly. Can I believe them when they claim the rest of the week will be in the 80's and 90's? This is the view from my hotel room and I think the sun is coming out.

While I was waiting for my room to be ready I went in search of lunch and an Office Depot, where I could have more business cards printed because I did not bring enough. In a little while, Anna Faustino, another author and I, are going to head over to the convention center to get our badges and say hello to the C&T people while they are setting up their booth. She in napping; I am talking to you.

I called Terry Grant when I arrived and if we can coordinate our schedules, we hope to have breakfast tomorrow before I go over to the convention center.

I am 3 hours ahead so I'll try to adjust before I need to be perky and lively tomorrow! I'll check back with you when I can.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

before and after

Every time I go away I wish the gremlins would come in and clean up my ROOM so that when I get back, it would be neat. Oddly enough, they never show up and I come home to the same mess. Tomorrow, I leave again. And tonight, as I surveyed the scene I saw it was worse than ever. Boxes half-packed for QSDS teaching supplies; fabrics I brought home from the studio to make samples to take with me to market; the supply suitcase still packed from last week's trip; 50 lbs of soy wax in a carton. The view from my chair...honestly, not staged.
I knew I couldn't face coming back to this on Monday morning.
So I got to work...and an hour or two later...
I feel sooo much better. And I know it will stay this way because I am not here.
The alarm is set for 3:30 a.m. and it's almost 10:30 so I think I had better try to get a few hours of sleep. I will check in from Portland.

Monday, May 12, 2008

subliminal color influences

...are such a part of our lives as artists that we don't think about them till all of a sudden, we SEE. This morning, as I got out my bag of Gorilla coffee (see yesterday's post) I was stunned at what hit me! I had taken back the tile sample but when I saw the package, it made me smile. Coincidence? Or one of those environmental influences that sneaks up on us when we are not looking?

Now I wonder whether my soapstone choice was influenced by the previous color of my kitchen walls.
We all know how much our surroundings (color, light, weather) influence our work: Jette Clover told me that when she moved from the Netherlands to Florida her palette became much more vivid. I haven't asked her whether it has changed since she moved to Belgium, but I would not be surprised.

Here are the colors that greeted me when I entered the kitchen this morning (before I took out the coffee- LOL).
And then I looked outside at the deck and saw the palette that influences some of my favorite pieces.

Everything looks so GREEN with the spring rain- but I prefer the colors of autumn. Then again, that takes me full circle to the backsplash...
How do the components of your environment (color, light, weather, geography) influence the color and timbre of your work? Are you always conscious of those influences or do they just happen and then you see them in retrospect?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

a sneak peek

ONE preview copy of Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth arrived here yesterday and I have to say I am thrilled with how beautiful it looks! We won't see the rest of the copies till June - but since June is almost here, I guess we'll survive.

The next two days will be hectic as I get ready to go to International Quilt Market in Portland. My suitcase is sort of packed but I still have a lot to finish before I leave.

Mother's Day was very pleasant: We went to Brooklyn (I drove, so couldn't take any photos en route) and took my 91 year old mother with us to have brunch at Jessica & Tommy's. Jessica outdid herself with two exceptional fritatte, bagels, fruit salad, and my favorite Gorilla Coffee - roasted in Brooklyn, every day. Happily for me, Whole Foods carries it, but I have also mail-ordered it. It's the best. Especially with dark-chocolate covered pretzels, which we brought as a hostess gift.

Here we are after that lovely meal; a rather unglamorous pic of the 3 generations, but I suspect that someday we'll be glad we have it. I remember a mother's day meal 21 years ago and I wish I could find those pictures: my father died suddenly a few days later.
Jessica had an interesting week -- professional involvements with Giorgio Armani, Marc Jacobs, and an up-close George Clooney sighting ( yes, she says he is to-die-for gorgeous in person). Friday night she attended a party with Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, and numerous other recognizeable names - and said it was fun. I would think so!

My gift today, besides flowers, was the new cookbook from O Oprah - and Jessica says the recipes are very good. New kitchen, new cookbook - I guess I'll have to get to work. AFTER I get home from Oregon. I just hope the weather there is warmer than it is here. It has been a chilly spring.

Friday, May 09, 2008

it's mating season

for wild turkeys. This is the time of year. These two were standing around in front of my house, chatting, but by the time I grabbed my camera, they were hot-footing it up the street.
There was a big article in the paper today about how they are hanging around, chomping in the garden, eating from bird feeders, and chasing people around, barking and biting and threatening. They are extremely aggressive and think that humans are below them in the pecking order, so they come after you and expect you to do their bidding. Yell and swat at them with a oom and they will go away and leave you alone. Ever since some do-gooder re-introduced them to NJ, they have multiplied like rabbits and instead of remaining in wild habitats, have moved to the burbs. I counted 16 of them outside the door a few weeks ago. They are scary.

On another subject, I am done.
Today, I ordered the backsplash for the kitchen and am happy that one more decision is off my head. I needed some warmth with the cool stainless steel and soapstone and when I finally got around to following my instincts, this is where I ended up.

I just finished sewing down the facing on a piece I need to take to Quilt Market with me, so that's another thing to cross off the list (if I had a list, which I don't). Maybe I should write a list, starting with the things that are already done so I can fool myself into thinking I have accomplished something. But it seems like too much trouble. Do you write lists? Do you actually know where those lists are when you want them?

I loved looking at the pictures of Susie Monday's clean studio. Mine has been neat many times - for about five minutes each time. I don't have pictures of my studio (thank goodness) but here are a few I took last week when I went into the city to meet Joanie and Jette. As always, I am a sucker for urban grit.

view from a high-profile gallery in Chelsea

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 ...