Sunday, November 28, 2010

another Sunday

This time, for real.  I worked hard today. Finished cleaning the sewing room-- filled up a big trash bag, organized all of my commercial fabric in boxes and bins I tripped over every time I got near the sewing machine.  At least half the room is respectable; horizontal surfaces are visible. (but not for long, I am sure).

I made the back table into my ironing space and the other one into the cutting space.  Bins are stacked neatly, although I will admit that most of them have strips and bits dumped unceremoniously into them so I really don't know what is in each one till I look.  Little bits are too hard to sort and as long as it LOOKS neat, Ms. Closet may give me her seal of approval.  It's the most you can hope for, Ms. Closet!

All this sorting started because it is Jennifer's birthday tomorrow.  Jen is so thrilled with the quilt she is making that she is talking about making a "next one."  Since I have so much fabric, I picked out some scraps of various sizes and trimmed them.  Then I cut some 6" strips from larger pieces I had.
When I piled them up they looked rather unpreposessing (don't you love that word?) so I rolled them up into little bundles and tied them with ribbon; they are slightly better. Piled them into a gift bag along with an extra ruler I had, and an itty bitty cutting mat.  The only thing missing is a rotary cutter; maybe I have an extra in my studio.  I have to go there tomorrow, so I will look.

In the meantime, I am so exhausted from cleaning and sorting and cutting and rolling that I can't do what I need to do on these nice clean tables.  Oh, well.

Friday and Sat, my friends Bill and Lisa had open studios and I sold nearly half the scarves I had given them.  The rest will go up on my blog for holiday shopping, sometime in the next few days.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

it feels like a Sunday

I don't know about everybody else - but in my house it is always like that after a holiday.  We had a lovely, low-key Thanksgiving yesterday: us, Jessica, Tommy & Emma, and my mother.The turkey breast was actually delicious (and you know how I feel about birds - alive or dead) - Ina Garten's recipe - the best I have ever had.   Raw beet salad (Mark Bittman), oven roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and rosemary; asparagus.  Red, white, yellow, green - pretty!  And the requisite pecan and apple/cranberry pies with fresh whipped cream.
Jeremy, Anne Marie, David and Jake stopped by for drinks (for Jer and Anne, anyway) and amused themselves with Emma.  Here is David, having just finished giving Emma her afternoon snack.

Hilary and the boys stopped by today for the same reason and here is Josh, looking happy.

Nothing left from yesterday's meal but part of the pies, thanks to Marty who ate half the pecan pie on his own - LOL.  But I am doing my share tonight - we have to get them out of this house, after all!  I will wait a couple of days to weigh myself.

I drove the kids back to Brooklyn this afternoon and made the round trip in record time, since there was really no traffic to speak of.  

Tonight, I was all set to do some work but thought it might be a little difficult to get anything done.

I have just spent the last couple of hours sorting and ironing and sorting and ironing and ironing and sorting. I know it doesn't look like a big improvement, but trust is major.
Now, of course, it is past midnight and too late to do anything else.  But at least I know where everything is.  And tomorrow, I can tackle the other table.  I have two quilt that need facings added and the cutting board is at the bottom of the pile.  I have something on the wall that I need to take down and forget about for a while; and one quilt I need to do something with because one element of it is bothering me.  It doesn't seem to bother anybody else, but that's not the point.

Hope you all had as happy a Thanksgiving as I did.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yesterday I needed five things

that I can only buy at Whole Foods. Butterworks Farm  (the only yogurt I eat unless it is an emergency), organic this and that (Miss Emma is coming for T-giving and eats only organic food. Of course, my kosher turkey isn't organic - but close enough), organic meat for Marty and me because I don't want those hormones and god-knows what else, and Farmer Stoopnagel's local  organic, cage-free eggs that have a hand-written sell-by date on the egg carton.

To keep this art-related, here is my sketch of the yogurt carton. Now you know why I don't draw. I could have erased the unfortunate lines with a vintage Pink Pearl eraser but they are packed away because the painter is here.

I get home with 200 bags of stuff ( and find that Marty, bored without my presence, has gone to bed for the night).  So, martini and steak for me, all alone:-(

 But what about ice??? You know my ice situation -- and deciding on a new icemaker is another (boring) saga.  In desperation, I turned on the fridge icemaker - but I can't use those horrible, bulky big cubes in my drink. The blender doesn't chop ice very well, either.

Lightning Ice Cube Breaker to the rescue!!

I bought this somewhere a few years ago, before we redid the kitchen and put in the late icemaker. Used it for a while, then put it on the kitchen shelf with a few other vintage items. Last night, took it down again. There was apparently a square green Depression Glass ice-catcher, long gone. I use a glass.

In went the big, ugly ice cubes from the  freezer.
Works a treat, even if the ice tastes a bit rusty.
In went a couple of these wonderful lemon and garlic-soaked olives I had bought for Thanksgiving (will they last?)

Isn't it lovely?  Went great with the steak.  I was happy, despite eating alone.
I did go visit my mother yesterday and took her picture with my iPhone, which she was admiring and wondering if she should have one. (the answer was NO).  I showed her the picture on the phone and she was horrified at how she looked, but I thought it was a nice picture, considering. She looks a bit wistful.
On that note, I shall end Monday's recap of Sunday's non-adventures.  Now, breakfast and then to work!!

I can't keep my blog art-related these days 'cause there isn't any art happening -but that will change, eventually.  Thanks for reading anyway - and remember - your comments make my day.

P.P.S - I urge you to spend some time reading Trav and Kacy Williams' compelling and moving posts about America's small farmers (the farms are small, not the farmers - but you know what I mean) on the blog I referenced at the top of this post. Trav and Kacy are young and beautiful and travel around the country finding these amazing people and interiewing them.You simply must go there -- even if you just read this post about Henry Young.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

the sky is still blue

But as you can see above, my woods have turned monochromatic - when just 3 weeks ago they were vivid. Like a flame that burns brightest just before it goes out.
October 25, 2010 
 Autumn has always been my favorite time of year -- I associate it with beginnings instead of endings -- probably because it is always the beginning of the school year and of course, the Jewish New Year. A beginning and hope for a better year ahead. Hope springs eternal.

Yes, it gets dark at 4:00 in the afternoon, but that only lasts till just before Christmas -- so once we get over the winter solstice, I like to pretend that Spring is on its way.  (By pony express, in this part of the Northeast U.S. and a few other places, of course!)  Today, despite the barren trees, it was in the 50's F. degrees - still shirtsleeve weather as far as I am concerned.

After a couple of somewhat pithy posts, I think I have run out of pith (whatever that is - but I know you need a helmet for it - LOL).  Never mind - I will buy some more tomorrow when I go grocery shopping.

Well, tomorrow has turned into two days later and I still have not grocery shopped (had to finish this blog post first).  Oops.  Sorry.

I have been cleaning up the basement office alcove (aka former home print studio) - packing away such collectibles as 3 boxes of stocking with seams. (yes, these are burgundy - from Saks Fifth Ave).  Do you think they will ever come back in fashion?

There is a can of Flit (does anybody remember "Quick, Henry, the Flit"?) and untold items that have not been manufactured for 50 years or more.  This was in my father's store. Still has rubber samples on it - looks like it is from the 1920's.  What shall I do with it??  Are they going to put me on that Hoarder's TV show?  This is the tip of the iceberg.

I don't remember this packaging, so it must be verrrrry old.  I think I retrieved it from my father's store.

Make your own stamps, anybody? Who has eyes good enough to read this little print?

Advertising rulers.  The Glen Ridge Savings Bank was local (bought out by somebody large) and the wood is cheesy; the others are from the 1950's or earlier because the wood is heavy and they are varnished.

Where I got this box of erasers, I have no idea.  But aren't they lovely?  I guess I should use them, but I hate to.

This little gizmo is from the Billy Rose Music Hall, which opened in 1934 and probably closed in the 1950's, but I can't find any record of the closing.  A noisemaker - isn't it wonderful?? Very useful, too.

 This is so the contractor can paint the basement, which he has been working on this week.  The sheet rock is back up on the walls and ceiling and Monday, the paint comes out.  What a job!!

Finally, I have to update my website.  This is a nightmare, since I have a Mac and Homestead, which I dearly love, does not have software that works with Mac.  I have installed Parallels, but it is very slow and a pain you-know-where.  And I can't get my husband's PC (which he never uses anyway) to see my Mac, no matter what instructions I follow.  Since all my photos are on the Mac...  well, you get the picture.

Ok - off to the supermarket.  I promise not to post pictures of my groceries.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This is another topic that comes up periodically - mostly under the topic heading "derivative."  Then there are the words stealing, appropriating, copying, and -- gasp -- counterfeit, that crop up in some of these on-line conversations about art quilts.

Sigh...blah blah blah blah- it just goes on and on: people accusing other people of copying someone else's style or worrying that they will be accused of same, just because they once took a class with someone and are using that person's method of construction or techinque of cutting.  It makes me tired.  Why are we so hung up on that word "derivative"?? Is this an art quilt obsession?? Is it because we are relatively new to making ART that we drive ourselves nuts about this stuff?.

There have always been artists who painted the same things in the same style at the same time because they were all experimenting with a new way of seeing. You would be hard put to tell the difference between work by X and Y.  And even Z's work got into the act. Nobody cared then and nobody cares now.

Ditto music: Beethoven's 6th has phrases in it that could easily have been written by Mendelssohn. Can you always tell the difference between Mozart and Hayden?  And Leonard Bernstein was clearly influenced by Aaron Copland and Gershwin -- you can HEAR it. So what? It is still Bernstein's music.
There are a million examples of this in every type of art.

I did start out with synchronicity, didn't I?  Yes, it happens - more than we think.  Many of us have experienced making work and then seeing a piece from clear across the planet that is strikingly similar in subject or even style, although neither of you could possibly have seen each other's work because they were being done at the same time and you didn't know each other, to boot.  There are two other artists whose work I relate to - and saw the first time with the shock of recognition because we both use one particular element in our work.  We developed separately, as did our work - and we did not know each other.  Parallel lines of interest and thought.

I like to call it "family resemblance."  Here are two pieces done by two artists who live 3000 miles from one another and who had never met.  This is my piece, X-Post Facto.

It was truly with the shock of recognition that I saw Karen Rips' piece, "Exhale" and somehow knew that we were kindred spirits. 

I sent her a picture of my piece and she couldn't get over it, either.  We finally met when I taught in California and it never occurred to either one of us that there had been anything but coincidence.

I had made mine a year or so before she made hers; hers was part of a series but mine was the only one I ever made like that, before or since. Either one of us could have made both pieces. SYCHRONICITY:
it happens.  Embrace it.

A possible idea for an exhibit.  Anybody want to curate a Synchronicity show?

Monday, November 15, 2010

continuing the thread

There have been a couple of  intelligent and stimulating discussions on the SAQA list (still ongoing, I hope) about issues that come up again and again on other lists. But this conversation has a different tenor - and people are really being honest about their own self-doubts when it comes to their work, finding their "voice" and a few other things. It's a universal.

Talking about "voice" comes up time and time and time and time again among artists on several lists I belong to.  Is it redundant? In a way yes, but it is always worth talking about because it seems to be an eternal quandary for artists.  We worry ourselves to death about whether we are authentic, whether we are original, whether we are echoing somebody else's work, whether we are any good at all - and especially whether we are expressing ourselves in a way that is uniquely ours, aka VOICE.

Sigh...voices change as we grow.  When my kids were little and called me at work, all three of them sounded the same, so I said "hi sweetie," till I could figure out from context who it was.  After a few years their voices changed (espcially my son's). My daughters still sound similar but the context remains distinct for each of them: their personalities, what they say, and how they they say it allows me to identify their voices. I believe it is the same thing with our art.  Don't you think so?  At least, I would hope that none of us is making exactly what we made 5-10-15- 20-and more(for some of us) years ago.

Does this sound like my "voice?" Not sure anybody (but one or two people who saw this piece when I first made it) would identify it as mine.

I started this piece almost 15 years ago after I sat in a chamber music concert listening to a piece in a minor key.  Then I wondered how you would express a minor key visually and decided to try. I was not happy with it because it was on a different background (and already quilted, btw) so I put it away till about five years ago, when I took it apart and changed the background fabric.  (This is all irrelevant). Originally called Life in a Minor Key, I changed the title to Blue Note. (also irrelevant).
What is relevant is that as I look at the piece, so different from how I work now - my voice is there.
1) it is layered and I still work in layers, albeit with other processes, and 2) my work is still expressing life in a minor key -- whether it is obvious to the viewer or not.  

I've said this before, I think - but it bears repeating.  I once had to write an artist's statement for a solo exhibit.  When I groaned, the gallery director said "tell me what you do and why you do it."  It forced me to take out all my work, throw it on the floor, and look at it to see what it was about and what the common elements were.  What I do and how I do it may have changed, but what a lot of my work is about has not changed.  Listen to your work over the last 5-10 years and hear what it is saying - and you will know what your "voice" sounds like.

Remember - every voice has a range and sings a lot of different songs - but the underlying timbre is recognizable.  What do you "hear" in your own work?  Comments, please!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

enjoying the weekend

Busy with family stuff, will post at some point when I have time to sit at the computer.   Weather here is divine.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's still Thursday - a rant

So here I am at the Hyatt in Bethesda, after a 5 hour drive (which should have taken 3.5-4 hrs.  I should mention that the Hyatt forgot to tell me I needed to make a U-turn when I got off the highway, in order to find the place. As a result, I drove about 10 miles out of my way in RUSH HOUR traffic.  Gee, they gave me a coupon for a free drink or free Internet for one night (tough call) because of the hassle.

Photos are sparse so far, but when I uploaded my iPhone pix, I saw that someone had taken this lovely picture of me wearing one of my for sale scarves at open studios last Sunday.  Do you notice that it always seems to be the same picture with the same expression.  I could just upload it every year and you'd never know the difference.

In fact, when I went to renew my driver's license a couple of years ago, I asked if I could re-use the same picture from whatever year it was previously.  They looked at me and said yes. By the next renewal I will probably need a facelift to get away with it.  But by then, I will deserve it.

The drive down here was not terrible, but I must say the high point was one rest stop along the way (NJ turnpike, where thankfully, we had brought our own food with us - don't stop at Walt Whitman; Nurse Nancy is a better stop (Clara Barton??).  However, I must say that the restrooms were clean, Beethoven's fifth symphony was playing over the loudspeakers (I had to check to see if I was hallucinating) and the graffiti in the stall was simply lovely.  I had to take a picture.

a refreshing change from "for a good time, call so and so" or a few other choice words. Hard to believe if I hadn't seen it myself.

So that's it for tonight.  We are waiting for Todd (Gillman son and Washington Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News) to finish rehearsal for grandson Nate's Sat. bar mitzvah and take us to dinner - or rather, I guess we will take them - LOL.  Meantime, I have eaten so much STUFF with the drink in this bar that I will have to force myself to eat dinner. (wanna buy a bridge?)

a quickie post - no pix.

Got news today that my piece, Broken Dreams, was juried into Form Not Function. That's nice because it was the only show I applied to this year.

Have been buried in paperwork all day and been packing.  We're leaving tomorrow for a weekend in Bethesda, MD for a family event which begins Friday night and ends at brunch on Sunday.  This means we'll have Friday at leisure and a well-deserved rest for both of us. Let's hope the Hyatt Regency does not have bedbugs.

There's construction on 95 (what else is new?) through Delaware (delays) so  we are leaving early enough to get there before rush hour in the D.C. area.  I am going to grab a few hours of sleep.  Will try to post over the next few days.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

where have I been?

Spending days deleting photos from iPhoto so my hard drive had some room. It was FULL and I could not do anything.  What a boring job! Am still at it but taking a break. I'm up somewhat early today and thought I would catch up before coffee (what am I thinking?) and before the day gets away from me.  I

So...catching up.

Thanks for all your birthday wishes last week - they brightened a rather grey and dismal day - although the sun came out, sort of in the afternoon and the weekend was sunny.
Met my daughter Hilary for lunch and it was lovely to have some one-to-one with her - a truly rare event these days.  My daughters gave me a gift certificate for my favorite nail spa and I am going to treat myself to a much-needed half-day there when I need it most.  What a great gift!

One day last week, Jennifer arrived with her patchwork top all sewn together (by hand). Next up, another lesson in laying out the sandwich and backing and hand-stitching it all together. Uh oh - I'm afraid she's hooked.  Does she look happy, or what?

Thursday, Nov. 4 was the opening of the Exhibit in Montclair that I was getting ready for.  Considering the pouring rain, there was a good attendance and everybody stayed for the discussion of how we do our work (process).  Here is a good picture of the artists: all printmakers and all of whom work in layers.

Sunday was Open Studios - always great fun!  When I come up for air (next week, hopefully) I will post some scarves that I still have.

I started this post this morning and then got busy and forgot to upload it. So here it is, FWIW.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


  • With one deadline behind me (delivering work for this exhibit) and a few critical days' reprieve for another, I will have time tomorrow to gather some props to bring with me to Meet the Artist. 
Dorothy Cochran, the curator, wants the artists to talk about process; we all work in layers.   I will bring a Thermofax screen and possibly the photocopy image, and  if I can find an onion bag around, I'll bring that with me. Pretty exciting stuff, eh? Should knock 'em dead.
(to be continued after the jump: scroll down).

My third deadline is Sunday's open studio and what I should have been doing tonight was printing scarves.  Instead, I frittered away the evening.  What a luxury. 

  • I drank tea and ate crackers with ginger marmalade and peanut butter. (I am still practicing to be a food stylist, but it took me 6 fuzzy shots till I got this one.)  I love anything ginger and isn't this a beautiful label? 

  • I did not talk to anyone on the telephone.

  • I contemplated the rather useless assortment on my home design wall, near the front door, which blocks either the heating vent or the door to the garage. We are either cold or can't get into the garage. Or both.

  • I spent a few hours on ebay and freecycle,hoping that someone was giving away or almost giving away a sewing machine that works but that they no longer use. Herein lies a tale.

I am teaching our caregiver, Jennifer, to make a quilt?  She has no sewing machine. She fell in love with my quilts and loves to sew (by hand, of course). One day last week I taught her how to use a rotary cutter and ruler, let her pick some fabrics from my commercial stash, and she came in today with almost all the squares sewn into rows.  I forgot to take pictures, but I will, after she has sewn the rows together.  Then, I will give her some batting and backing and teach her how to put a running stitch through the layers.  She is SO excited.

When she came in today, she said she had seen a $99 machine in Walmart. God only knows what they are selling for that price; if it was a Singer, I told her to run in the other direction.  It might have been one of the Brother models, but I only looked on line since there is no Walmart near me.

I found a refurbished Brother model CS-5500 on ebay for not much more than $99 - free shipping legitimate dealer, full warranty, return till mid-January, and am thinking it would be a good machine for her.  Anybody have experience with this one? I will continue to check the freecycle groups and maybe the sewing machine repair shop, but she can ill afford even the $99.

Well, having frittered away not only the evening but my blogging time, I am going to bed. It is already tomorrow.

        Monday, November 01, 2010

        deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

        I'm determined not to go to bed till I get this sleeve sewn on.  I have to deliver a load of work Tuesday morning for an exhibit that opens Thursday night.  This is a spare, in case the curator has extra room and decides she wants to hang it.  It does fit the theme of the exhibit, which is The Print Matrix: Revealing the Layers, but it was not finished when she first saw it.  So I finished it and will take it with me on Tuesday, just in case. 

        I ran out of fabric so grabbed some other graffiti-ish stuff I had lying around.  These days, I always make my sleeves in two segments because so many galleries have the Walker hanging system and I am tired of cutting holes in my sleeves to fit the hooks.  Hence, the space in the middle.  This particular venue does not have the Walker but now I'm ready for every eventuality.

        On another subject, last night we went out to dinner with friends. It was the first time we had been out to dinner in about two months: a big change for us..and probably has contributed to my losing some weight. The food was outstanding, albeit not quite what we expected when we ordered the whole red snapper - LOL.  This fellow does not look particularly cheerful, but neither would I in his situation.

        It's soup weather, so I got busy late this morning.  Don't ask me what kind of soup; it's SOUP. You know -- 
        6 cups of water, a bone, can of tomatoes, onions, celery, garlic, cannellini beans, lentils, a hunk of parmesean cheese, salt, bay leaf, fennel seeds, oregano, thyme, and basil - both fresh and dried. 

        I don't measure, except for the water.  I throw everything into the pressure cooker I have had since 1963 and after 20 minutes, it's soup.  Stone soup?  It's never the same twice - but this particular batch is better than usual. Don't you love the basil leaves? I'd consider a career as a food stylist if I weren't so sloppy.

        Enough of a break.  Back to stitching.  Now that it is after 2:am, I have my second wind.  Oh, dear.

        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 ...