Monday, August 31, 2009

back to art

First, thanks for all your sweet comments about my mother. I really don't mean to spend a lot of time on that subject but not only is life interfering with art, it is influencing art. And art is what I intended this blog to focus on when I began writing it almost 5 years ago. So... Tonight I had a really great art experience! I participated in the on-line quilt critique run by Sandra Sider and Lisa Chipetine. Having done it once, I am hooked and will do it again. There were five of us tonight who had submitted work for crit. I sent a piece I had already finished; one that my two crit groups had looked at and hadn't had any suggestions about, although something about the finished piece was bothering me. It is always good to have fresh eyes looking at something and Sandra is one of the best around. She has an outstanding eye and sensibility. I highly encourage you to submit a piece for critique (everybody is anonymous) and get intelligent, valuable feedback on your work. Great value on every level. And if you're too chicken to do it the first time around, watch and listen to the crit as a silent participant. Tonight I started stitching Urban Storefront, which I am raw-edge applique'ing to its background. Over the next few days I might get some more stitching done. Tomorrow, back to the studio to try and find two exhibit pieces I put away so carefully that I now cannot remember where I put them. Uh oh.

best laid plans redux

Mid-afternoon in the studio and I got a call that my mother is going back to the hospital because of an infection that can only be treated with IV. (was she there long enough to pick one up in the ER????) So, off I go. Never a dull moment.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

the best laid plans

I meant to spend the day working on a few pieces that need facings and playing around with a couple of other projects in my head. "meant to" are the operative words here. I got a little done (very little - see picture) before we left at 3:30 to see my mother, who complained she couldn't breathe. Long story short - we spent the rest of the day till 8:30 in the E.R., where they decided she had a touch of bronchitis, started her on Z and sent her home. What a relief! In the words of the ER doctor, "you don't want to be in the hospital. Hospitals are the worst places - they make you sick." How encouraging. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to get some work done and if I'm lucky, it will wait till after my morning walk to come down in buckets, as it did this morning right after I got home. For now, it has been a long day and I am turning in - ye gads - before 11!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paris it's not.

This is the first time I've been on Broadway at Times Square since they closed it to traffic between 42nd and 46th or 47th - I forget. Well, they have replaced the lawn chairs with cute little tables and chairs but, ya know, it just doesn't look right. If this is supposed to be a charming spot for people to sit down with their Starbucks take-out coffees, it misses -- by a mile. Does this look charming to you? Where are the cafés? Where is the landscaping? Where are the flowers and trees that would make this look like an oasis? Looks more like a desert with traffic cones and a couple of half-hearted planters. I can imagine it would take some time to decide what they will do to enhance this space - but in the meantime, they might want to take inspiration from Bryant Park, which I walked through on my way to meet Leni Wiener at the Neue Galerie on 86th and 5th. It was threatening rain when I left home but the sun came out and the day was balmy and perfect for walking. I snapped a few photos en route. These made me smile.
I love the irony hereand the pure joy of color and rhythm here.
The Oskar Kokoschka exhibit at the Neue was a visual feast. He and the other German & Austrian expressionists between the wars produced some of the most powerful art of the last century, at least as far as I am concerned. The Neue has portraits by George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and the remarkable Otto Dix - among others. There is work by Gustav Klimt, including the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer that the Nazis had stolen and was finally returned to her family several years ago. Ronald Lauder purchased it for the Neue Galerie and the family later donated two retrieved sculptures so they could be reunited with the portrait. Unfortunately, IMO, this work has become almost a cliché from overexposure and Klimt painted some beautiful landscapes that you would never attribute to him because they are so different from this. Anyway, Leni and I had a lovely lunch and were able to chat and spend a lot of time together because after the museum, we walked down from 86th to 42nd St, where we parted ways: she to Grand Central for the train and I to the Port Authority to catch the bus. Since 20 city blocks in NY = a mile, we might have walked off a bite or two of the Viennese cake and coffee mit schlag. It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

this is progress??

I worked at home again today. First of all, I left my keys in the studio yesterday and because my spare key to the outside door of the building doesn't work, I couldn't get in unless one of my studio mates was there to let me in. So this morning, I played around with this thing on the wall. And then tonight, again. Shoulda left it alone -- but on Friday I'll rearrange it for the upteenth time and fortunately, I have the photo. I suppose one advantage of pieces falling off the wall is that sometimes you put them back in better ways than you had put them in the first place. I am overthinking -- and that is the kiss of death. Some of the blocks have fallen down again and I am going to leave it alone for now. Between the ends of the day I had my hair cut so that now I no longer look like an overgrown tree. And I had an MRI of my hand to see what is cooking there. While I was lying there I thought of all kinds of funny, clever things I could write on tonight's blog. Do I need to tell you I can't remember any of them? You've already figured it out for yourself. I have sort of ironed my Urban Storefronts to a backing. I say "sort of" because I didn't have enough Mistyfuse and had to use this horrible wonder under stuff, which doesn't stick to anything. It must be old. Remind me to buy more Mistyfuse!! Tomorrow, I am going into NY to meet Leni Wiener and I am really looking forward to a day out. Have to be out early to catch the bus so I'll leave you till tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


First, I have to thank Debra Spincic for the pleasant surprise on her blog today. Perked me right up!

Earlier today, I took the on-line quiz "What's Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type?" and got the result: ENFP (Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception). What this quickie result does not tell me is that I am borderline I/E and could just as easily come out as an Introvert on a different day. But this will do because it's the NF that counts.

You are warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. You see life as full of possibilities. You make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns you see. You want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. You are spontaneous and flexible, and often rely on your ability to improvise and verbal fluency.

Went to the dreaded supermarket, spent a small fortune and came home with -- what??? Spent the rest of the day (and night) doing you-know-what. Here is tonight's wall as it evolves.
Tomorrow, back to the studio to see if I can do anything serious.

Saturday night & Sunday morning

After 1:am. It seems that at night is the only time on the weekend I can sew. Cup of coffee keeps me going for a while but doesn't seem to keep me from sleeping. Our bodies can get used to almost anything! Tired of sewing strips, I decided it was time to de-and re-construct a few of these babies. See that long strip on the far left? Too long. So I cut it into a few segments. The first piece, I left alone. (pardon the fuzzy shots, I am too lazy/sleepy to redo them)
Then I randomly sliced and diced it.
With this one I cut a narrow strip crossways and just added around the edges.I sent it over to join its friends
And here are the two originals, flanking the one I cut and pasted. Fun! More sewing tomorrow, although I think we might go to the movies.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Join me...

You may have noticed this little gizmo on my sidebar for a while and not gotten very far if you clicked on it. Now it's live and I'm about to do a bit of shameless self promotion. I'm teaching with LQuilt - joining a roster of international teachers like Els van Baarle, Valerie Hearder, and Cherilyn Martin. Several months ago the photographer-director came to my studio to film two on-line workshops; the first of which should be up and running now. If you can't take an in-person screen printing class with me, this is a great option to get you started - and while it's not quite the same as being in the classroom with me, I hope it will be a close second till we can meet in person! LQuilt launched at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England and has already generated a lot of buzz - so click on the gizmo above and go see what's offered. End of shameless s.p. and on to other things... Taking a break from sewing green strips, I decided to audition a background for last week's urban storefront piece.Same piece of fabric, 3 different placements. I have already made up my mind. This is a piece I dyed and it is so vivd that I can't believe it came from my dyepots. Also, it is not 419 - it is more like Kona so it is probably a piece I dyed last January in Pam Morris' garage when I was teaching in Fla. must be the water. Speaking of water, we had more storms today, alternating with sun - another crazy weather day. Oh - my left hand, for those of you who asked: don't know yet. I have a lump. The x-ray didn't show anything and I have to have an MRI. Meantime, the doctor says it might be stress injury from repetitive motion and I have a wrist brace because it hurts more when I bend my wrist (only annoying me, not helping) and he has me on Celebrex which IMO is totally useless.The only stress injury I can think of is closing the tailgate door on my car because it is so damn heavy -- but I didn't think of that till now. I have to go back in 2 wks. So that is that for the moment. I have to stop typing now for a while because the lump is throbbing. Some gin might help...

cats & dogs & various

Sullivan Drive is a river. It poured and was pitch dark at 3:30 pm and then the sun came out. Off and on, off and on - and now it is 2:am and coming down in thundering sheets. Sigh... I wish I were sleepy because rain on the skylights is a comforting sound to me and so is thunder. I'm glad tomorrow is Saturday. The green strips continue to multiply but my mac is not recognizing my card readers tonight, so you'll have to look at an earlier picture from a few hours ago. I'm just sticking them up on the wall as I make them, to get them out of the way. But I am already getting tired of this and think it is time to make some other segments or add something to these. Not now, of course. The boys were here this afternoon but were perfectly satisfied to stay here and play in the yard - till it rained. Frankly, I was happy, too. I made mussels for dinner and Ben, who is 8, declared that he loves mussels and asked for an order "to go." LOL. I made them in my usual white wine, so Hilary will have to add some marinara sauce for him. I know I had some other things to say but brain just shut down so if I remember, I'll say them tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

sewing strips

After a week of frustrating attempts to make a piece on the studio wall come together, I decided that a deliberate decision to work in a series would simply not work for me. This is a detail from the first piece; the next piece will have to evolve by itself - or I will have to let it go. It is just too stressful to work with such intent (or intensity, which is probably more to the point.) It is not fun. Tried starting something else but in the end, all the fabrics came off the wall, went back into their respective boxes, and I reverted to therapy sewing for the rest of the afternoon. I have a sewing machine at my studio - brought there "for emergencies" and till now, it has served as a bookend for all the screens on my bottom shelf in the corner. Print and design in the studio, sewing at home has been the routine. It seems such a waste to sew there -- but in the past week or two that is just what I have been doing and it is strangely calming. I posted this block (or one like it) yesterday. Could anything be uglier? This was one of several blocks I made using a method in a book that shall be nameless. Probably a good book for many people - but not my cuppa. Besides, the fabric choices I made were vile. Maybe not separately, but together - eeeeeeew. After I got finished adding strips today, it looked like this:I still have several more blocks to cut up, so we'll see what happens. Tonight at home I have been doing the same thing - but have decided to stick with blues and greens, since they are calming colors. I'm using a combination of my own printed cloth and Helene's Hand Dyes - and I suspect some of Usha's Handloom Batik fabrics will sneak in now and then, as well. I stuck these units on the wall just now to take a photo and picked up the one with the purple,which has been lying around since the year of the flood. Looked like it might work and sure enough, it does (and yes, these are Handloom Batiks). But I'm not making anything yet -- I just need to sew. Tomorrow, the hand surgeon in the morning and then Josh and Ben are coming over for the afternoon. There's a Cezanne exhibit at the local museum that might be worth a visit...although I suspect they'll want to go to the studio. Maybe we can do both.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


In my studio at the factory, I have three tables -- a 4'x8' and two 30"x60"s. Ostensibly one printing, one for ironing, and one for cutting -- but as you can imagine,it doesn't really work that way. Nonetheless, it is a luxury to have all that horizontal space. Lately I have been alternating between working at home if I need to be here for some reason, and working in the REAL studio, where I can think and breathe. I have become so spoiled by spreading myself out on 3 tables (and trust me, they are all covered with STUFF) that I am unable to function with one measly 30x60 at home, where I have to cut and iron in the same space. This is how it looks right now - and it is pretty cleaned up from earlier; you can actually see where the cutting board is. I was in the middle of my archeological dig when my husband plunked himself down(uninvited) to stare at me while I worked. His (failed) attempt at conversation went like this: "I would go crazy in this room." When I did not respond, he left for elsewhere in the house where, presumably, he will not go crazy. While I moved and sorted piles of fabric, I discovered: 1) untold numbers of blocks from never-finished or never-started quilts from another era. Most are in the "what was I thinking?" category. 2) many boxes of fabrics I printed for the book - some that appeared and many that ended up on the cutting room floor, where they belonged. Since I have not been printing much lately because I have a problem with my left hand, I am relegated to the sewing machine and the design wall till I find out what needs to be done. So I guess I need to challenge myself to use some of these ugly things. Too tired tonight to get started but I'll be back in the studio tomorrow and maybe I will start experimenting. What do you do with your leftovers??

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

odds and ends

Today was our Studio Six meeting - although we were only four because so many people are away in August. The pile of indigo shibori is Joan Dreyer's --and it should make a beautiful piece. I had three pieces to show today -- a rarity! Two were therapy quilts and one was the piece I'm almost finished quilting. When our meeting was over today, I stopped at the studio and started another one - or at least, threw fabric at the wall and rearranged it several hundred times in two hours. I left it there, came home, threw a steak on the grill, and spent most of the evening on the phone. Refreshed and renewed by the long, leisurely conversation, I went back to work sewing and auditioning some new therapy strips, albeit prematurely. This is on my wall as I head upstairs for the night. Tuesday is slated to be another scorcher - summer has finally arrived in New Jersey in the past two days. I plan to go to work early and come home mid-afternoon before I wilt. On the other hand, the best laid plans...

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The weekend started when our grandchildren, Kayla (10) and Alexander (almost 8) arrived yesterday afternoon to stay overnight. Rachel Leibman, one of my studio mates, has a solo exhibit at the Monmouth Museum and last night was the opening -- so I took the kids along. They live near the Metropolitan Museum in NY, so they are pretty knowledgeable about art and enjoyed deciding which of Rachel's pieces they liked best.

Rachel is a collage artist who uses ancient manuscripts from all religions to create her work. I see her in the studio creating her pieces so it was a pleasure to see a whole gallery full of work. I don't believe anybody else is doing work like is pretty amazing.

I haven't had much time to work on The Piece; Yesterday and today were tied up with the computer - a problem with launching my website that turned out to be a corrupted Windows problem. After many phone calls and futile
efforts from the website people. I finally reinstalled Windows and it is fine now --but it wasted a day and a half.

So, here is the most recent photo of this work, which has already changed a little bit since I took it.
Are you tired of looking at it yet??I am not, but just to change the subject..à propos of Elizabeth Barton's famous blog post, I retrieved this pictures, which you may have seen. Back in March, I was trying to just make something from the wonderful fabric I had shibori'd in Jan Myers-Newbury's workshop. But guess what? It did not work and I gave up trying to force the issue. When I find the right use for them, I won't have to force anything. Back to the wall tomorrow, I hope.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

recharging my batteries

...both the camera's and mine. Today, I braved the traffic, two bridges, and expressways I have never been on before as I drove, white-knuckled, to Queens, NY. Deep breaths but I got there in time and in one piece. As I said yesterday (I think) I went to the intimate graveside funeral service for my friend Bonnie's mother...and I was very happy that I went. After the service (greatly delayed because when the opened the grave there was a huge boulder that they had to remove before they could proceed -- don't ask!) we went out for a (very late) lunch and I headed home just in time for rush hour. This time, I blundered into a different route that took me into Brooklyn, over the bridge to Manhattan and turned out to be much more relaxing than the trip going. While it took 2 hours to get home, at least I knew where I was. I sat on Canal St. (Chinatown) for an interminable amount of time, en route to the Holland Tunnel: a much more interesting place to be in a traffic jam than the highway. I've been working diligently for the last couple of hours on the sow's ear. And with all the random sewing, I have discovered the zen of sitting at the machine. Here is pretty much everything, chopped up, reconstituted, and with some other fabrics added. It is becoming something that I think I can be happy with, if I can make it work the way I want to. Most of my fabrics are in the studio and I am working on this at home, so I am limited. But maybe this is a good thing. Here is a closer view of what is now the center section. We'll see what develops over the next few days. I am too tired to use my brain so I am going to bed. What else is new?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ugly, continued

Tonight's output, done in the space of an hour or so. Whither? We'll see. Right now, it is too predictable and boring for words:something I hope never to be. It's late: I was delayed with the cutting/sewing/blogging by a phone call from a professor at a midwestern university who reads my blog and thinks my philosophy of "you can't make a mistake - just redo it till you like it" is something his students should hear about. LOL - I should have suggested to him that I come as a guest lecturer one of these days. Well, maybe if he is reading this, he will think about it.
It was beyond hot today and my studio air conditioner was not cooperating. I left earlier than I had intended to -- but there will be an additional a/c put back in the hallway and that should help. It certainly made a difference last year. In the meantime, I did some work at the computer and on the wall. Funny that I seem to be working in a similar palette at home and at work. One that I don't even like. Hmmm..what does it all MEAN? (probably nothing). I have something in mind that is inspiring me but I simply can't capture it. I tried several years ago and failed, so now I am trying again. I am not hopeful. On another subject, Elizabeth Barton's post today certainly makes some salient points. But as someone who works from/is inspired by the cloth, my take is different. Too tired to go on but you all who posted to the QuiltArt list should have posted your comments, as well, on Elizabeth's blog. Good discussion! She is always stimulating. Off to bed - I have a funeral to attend tomorrow morning in Queens, NY. Can I wrinkle my nose and be there without having to navigate the GW and Triboro bridges? Guess not.

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 ...