Thursday, March 29, 2012

it gets worse before it gets better

When I was writing my book, I wrote and sewed at home.  This was for my convenience, so that if I wanted to work till 2:am, I could.  But this also meant that I had to bring home bins and bins of fabrics from my studio.  I finished the book, then had an article or two to write, then had to get things ready for the DVD and the tv shows - so the piles of STUFF just got worse and worse as I worked.

Yesterday, I started to sort the thousands of strips of fabric so I could organize them -- at least till I start to work again.  I untangled and disengaged all of the hand-dyed strips and put them into plastic bags, sorted (more or less) by color. Since Helene Davis' hand-dyes are often layered with more than one color, this is not as straightforward as it might seem. But I coped and filled giant baggies with the strips I so dearly love to use in my work.

 While I was at it, I had to separate the hand-dyes from the strips of my own handprints and commercial stash fabrics -- some of them -- like the Kaffe strip on top of the pile -- from the Year One.  I will never use them all.  No matter; at least they are contained...till I start working again.
Along the way, I accumulated a pile of teeny strips - smidgens and trimmings and who-knows-what.
I (gasp) threw them away.
It will be no surprise to you that this is just the teeniest tip of the tip of the iceberg.  On my portable design wall (aka a bulletin board with batting) are a few strips I have already sewn together and have put there for temporary safekeeping.  I have separated the smaller, more varied strip sets and they are waiting their turn to be put into their own box.
Then there is the box that contains a collection of units I have made from strips and squares.  Do you think I need to make any more of these?
I am not yet  ready to tackle the bins of commercial stash, which I need to neaten up after having cut strips and used them with my other fabrics.  No picture of that pile - it is just too repulsive to look at.

But lest you think this is totally hopeless, these three small pieces - all having used a variety of strips, squares, commercial, hand-prints and UFO blocks, were on the same bulletin board last week. I have added facings and have started to sew them down in my spare moments.
Given the number of spare moments I will have in the next week, as I spend the weekend at Fiber Philadelphia and then continue cooking for Passover -- I should have these facings done by summer:-).


Monday, March 26, 2012

spring is sprung

More than a month early, the famous cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park are in bloom. The park in Newark was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park and there are more of these beautiful trees in Newark than in Washington, D.C.  I had not been there since I was a child and had forgotten how magnificent these blossoms are.

The scheduled festival will supposedly go on in mid-April,despite the fact that the trees will probably no longer look like this by the time they get to it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yesterday's mail

brought this into my mailbox because I have an article in the April/May issue. Coincidentally, this follows on the heels of our discussion about magazine content.

I have not subscribed to Quilting Arts since very early days because I saw a gradual change that did not appeal to me.  However, I have to say that based on Vivika deNegre's inaugural issue as Editor, I am seeing another gradual change -- for the better (and that is not because of my article - LOL).

I have just written to Vivika to let her know that I see a difference, and what I would like to see more of....and while I don't expect a sudden and drastic change, the difference is just enough to make me hopeful.

If you have seen the issue and think you see a positive difference, it would be good if you were to email Vivika and let her know what it is you like about the articles/profiles/content in this issue and what you'd like to see more of.  It is true that book and magazine publishers need feedback from us because we are (or are not but could be) their audience.

And honestly, my two books might never have been written if it had not been for my students, who took my classes and kept saying "you need to write a book about this!"  Bottom line: input and feedback are vital to keep things dynamic and interesting and to meet peoples' needs.  When my brother owned a restaurant, many years ago in another country, he was always stopping at people's tables and asking "how is everything?"  He really wanted to know because if something wasn't meeting his customers' needs and he could change it, he did. 

Off my soapbox.  Last night finally sewed on two facings and am almost finished stitching a third piece. They are all small pieces, but since they have been sitting around here forever, unfinished, I feel as though I am finally accomplishing something. I'll post these when I am ready.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the usual suspects

have been complaining again about my lack of blogging.  Well, my last 10 days have been filled primarily with sitting and staring into either space or the computer screen, depending on circumstances. Did you really want to hear about that every day?  A one-liner.  I stared into space today. Then I coughed. Then I resumed staring into space. I could have cut and pasted it every day, but somehow I didn't think that needed to show up on Facebook 11 times in a row.

I really wish I could invent something exciting, but the past 11 days of my life have been sadly lacking, putting it mildly.

Monday night I had an urgent need to bake scones, which was a short-lived good sign.  Not having baked any in decades and having no recipe, I scoured the Internet and found a recipe for cream scones from Alton Brown that sounded reasonably decent.  Since most of the 5 zillion comments complained they were not sweet enough and they had had to increase the sugar, that seemed like a plus.  WRONG.  I  should have realized these were American taste buds and cut the sugar by half. 

When my friend Rachel showed up for tea and crit on Tuesday, we managed to eat a few - but we both agreed they were too sweet. Is there a Brit out there who can give me a really great recipe????  PLEASE??

 Since our crit group couldn't get it together for this Fiber Philadelphia month, Rachel and I had our own meeting -- which we both needed.  She brought a piece she was struggling with and I gave her my not-so-humble opinion.  I showed her a piece I had just cut in half and she had some great advice. Our day was pleasant and a great success!

I'll skip the non-activities of yesterday and today.  Was planning to do therapy sewing today but didn't get near the machine till tonight, when i put the last few rows of stitching on a small piece.  Tomorrow, if I am lucky, I will put the facings on and get busy doing the same for a few other small pieces that have been languishing.  I am not sure what the weekend will bring.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the restorative power of antibiotics

Cocoa is fine, but the doctor didn't think it would help my bronchitis vanish.  So, z-pak to the rescue. It works much faster when it is followed by some homemade frozen yogurt; working on that part of the treatment as we speak.

Thanks for all your great comments on the ideal art quilt mag; wish I had the wherewithal to start one.
But it's nice to dream, isn't it? Maybe some deep-pocketed publisher will read my blog and decide we are onto something. (and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you).

In the meantime, hope springs eternal.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the restorative power of cocoa

I have been drinking chicken soup, miso soup, and tea for several days. But tonight I had a yen for hot chocolate, and it has made me feel better already.   Real cocoa, made with Valharona and a little sugar and milk; not that instant stuff that is too sweet and filled with god-knows-what.

When I was a teenager and came home from a date, if my mother was up we made cocoa and cinnamon toast and I would tell her about my date (with a few omissions, of course).  So there is always a comfort level with those two foods. I grew up with Droste's so it is easy to see why I am a cocoa snob.

One of my favorite readers has radar.  Every time I have not posted for a while, she picks up the phone to see what is wrong. She's got a good record!  This time, a wretched cold -- just when I thought I had gotten through winter feeling fine.  I probably picked it up on the plane, but who knows?  Tomorrow, if it is not better, I'll see about getting it checked. Chicken soup hasn't done a whole lot to help.

Meantime, I have been sitting and staring into space all week; too tired even to do therapy sewing, if you can imagine that. And I have been working on revamping my website: a daunting task that may or may not get done soon. While I've been staring into space (and reading posts on several lists) I have noticed mention of the late-lamented Art/Quilt Magazine.  No point going into the reasons for its demise (which had nothing to do with the high-quality of the magazine) or whining about how our subscription renewal funds have vanished.

Instead, I'm curious about what those of you who are serious art quilt people would like to see in a magazine.  What kinds of information/features/visuals/ articles/profiles/interviews/ would make you supremely happy that your needs were being met? What would you like to see omitted? What kinds of articles do you not want to see?  Given your 'druthers - imagine a new magazine!

I hope you'll think about it and post your ideas because I'm really interested.

Now I'm off to sleep with the hope that I'll be somewhat better in the morning.

Friday, March 09, 2012

in the studio

Another fun day with the Quilting Arts people at Beachwood Studios.  It has been four years or more since I was here, taping my first guest spot with Pokey on Quilting Arts TV. As soon as I drove up to the building, it felt as though no time had passed.

I arrived a day early and spent most of it in the Green Room (yes, it really is green) getting my materials organized for the DVD, while I watched Deborah Boschert tape her DVD and saw Pokey interview Ellen Ann Eddy for the show.  Deborah does beautiful work with collage and sheers and it was a treat to see her at work as she explained every step.

Yesterday morning I had to be at the studio early to get ready for the two guest spots with Pokey. Here we are on the set, which is a lot prettier than the Green Room.  I didn't shoot any photos behind the scenes because there is not much to see but a big room with tables; stuff for the next shoot spread out all over the place.  And snacks, of course.

I got to spend some time with Rebecca Kemp Brent, who does beautiful red work embroidery and was also a guest on the show.  We had dinner together last night after a hectic day.

During the day, Helen Gregory, Editorial Director for Interweave magazines, was taking pictures with her professional camera and I asked her to shoot one of Pokey and me, with my iPhone.  Here we are, just before or just after the segment (who can remember? -- there was so much going on!)
Then it was Pokey's turn to take a photo of me with Helen, who has been one of my favorite people since she laughed when I got paint all over wall across the room last time I was there, just missing the camera man.  We are still laughing about it.  Helen was a guest on Pokey's show, too. What she showed looked so easy that I am almost tempted to try it myself.
We had an excellent lunch in the atrium and then, it was back to work!  I spent the afternoon on the set, shooting my DVD, which will be out sometime in the next 4-5 months.  Here I am at the end of the day. I had so much fun making it that I hope it will be fun to watch.
It's time for me to leave for the airport and return the rental car, etc. etc. I'll be back to real life this afternoon.  Boo hoo.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Cleveland studio

Up at 5:am for a flight to Cleveland.  Tomorrow, taping two Quilting Arts TV segments and a DVD which will be out at some point in the next 6 months.  Will let you know when.

Spent the day getting ready for tomorrow's shoots and meantime, met Ellen Ann Eddy for the first time and reconnected with Judy Coates Perez and Deborah Boschert.  Deborah and I had dinner tonight - awesome sushi, drinks, and great conversation!  Deborah and I had met during the summer for the first time and it was great to reconnect today.  Our waiter was a to-die-for Frenchman and I had fun speaking to him in his native language.  Best of all, he thought I was French; that hasn't happened in a long time.  Here is the picture he took of Deborah and me.  But I should have gotten one of him...sigh.

I spent all day getting organized for tomorrow and now have to go to sleep early so I can be at the studio, fed and dressed, by 8:am for my taping with Pokey.  Beauty sleep awaits:-).

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Philadelphia and beyond

More art from  Fiber Philadelphia: here is one critic's review.
 This piece at  the Snyderman was made of combs. Clever use of ordinary objects.
 Plastic now seems to be part of the fiber category: this is Amy Orr's House of Cards at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.  Made completely of credit cards.
This is a detail of the piece made from horsehair, wire, and transparent filament.  It is not 3-D but it is hung away from the wall and the dimension and lines you see are shadows. 
 Barbara Lee Smith - only one among many of her textile pieces on exhibit.

This photo doesn't do justice to Joan Dreyer's piece made of dental x-ray film and wire, in a radiator grill vase. It is part of her two-person exhibit with Dianne Hricko at the Crane Building. Dianne's beautiful silk woods don't show up well, either - but here I am with my two friends.  Dianne and Joan were two of the moving forces behind Fiber Philadelphia and Dianne's blog has some great behind-the-scenes posts.

One piece by Norma Minkowitz was at the Crane; she also had work at the Snyderman Gallery.
 And here is  a sample of the beautiful, not-to-be-missed, art cloth exhibit, Lines and Numbers, that Judy Langille put together at the White Space. This is by Sue Jones.

We did a huge amount of walking around the city, which is a work of art all by itself and is filled with murals and heart-rending old buildings.  My favorite parts of this city are South Philly (South Street, Lombard, and environs) and the Old City, around Cherry St. and Third.

The beyond part is my trip to Cleveland to tape a couple of guest spots for Quilting Arts TV and make a new DVD. Next post from there!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Fiber Philadelphia

I came home Sunday night excited but too exhausted to do anything but upload my photos from this marvelous, city-wide event that boggles the mind, warms the spirit, and inspires the imagination.

Two of the most intense art days I've spent in eons.   Sensory overload from all the amazing work -- and we saw just the tip of the iceberg!  You MUST go see what you can of Fiber Philadephia if you are within four or five hours' driving distance.  There are lots of places to stay overnight -- worth it!!!

Mending=Art, the exhibit at the Gershman Y curated by Diane Savona, was possibly my favorite: it touched my heart.  It was beautifully put together and the whole premise was special, probably because mending a thread that runs through Diane's work and the fabric of her life. Mending as metaphor: nobody mends anything any more (except Michael Swaine).  I was so absorbed in the exhibit's layers of meaning that I forgot to take pictures, except for this one by Ilaria Margutti. But the entire show was beautiful.

Next we went to the 8th Fiber Biennial opening at the Snyderman.  This very large piece by Dorothy Caldwell was the first thing I saw as I came into the gallery.  So simple and elegant.  Dorothy was there and we chatted and caught up on things -- but I was not taking pictures of people at that point. 
 Jeanne Williamson also had a piece at Snyderman and was there for the opening and it was also great to see her.  We kept running into each other as we moved from opening to opening and at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, finally had our pictures taken together.
  Too tired to do more; I shall have to put up another installment tomorrow.  Fiber Philadelphia runs through half of April.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Perhaps random. Or various.  Tonight's blob is a catch-all, and if I can remember all the things I wanted to cover it will be a miracle.

First, since it was Wordless Wednesday when i started this post, here are my two point-and-shoot photos (traffic was at a dead standstill on the Manhattan Bridge) as I was heading out of Brooklyn on the trek home last week.

Also taken as I was sitting on the bridge, the WTC Freedom Tower and whatever else is next to it. Progress?

Here is a print from that screen Susanne was doodling on in class last week.  Some of you were curious, so I asked her to take a photo.
Wow! I'm sure subsequent prints were even better.
I spent most of the morning in the supermarket.  Forgot to buy paper towels, but detergent was on sale so I bought four.  You would not have believed that only one person lives in my house...but I hadn't been shopping in so long that my pantry was empty.  Kale was on sale, so I decided it was time to try making kale chips.  My son-in-law Tommy made them several years ago and I thought they were wonderful, but have never gotten around to it till today.  I munched on them before dinner and this is all that is left of the ton I had.  They are addictive.
In the ethnic aisle, I saw canary beans and after reading the recipe on the bag for Peruvian Stew, I bought them.  Here was tonight's dinner, made with the Italian sausage I had bought earlier in the week.
Simple and yummy!
Oops - forgot to stop at Whole Foods for yogurt.  I used the last of it yesterday afternoon when I had a frozen yogurt emergency. Lemon.  My ice cream maker is a lot happier now; it was feeling neglected.
The week is almost over (or so it seems). Later today is the opening of  QuiltFest in Somerset, NJ.  It's a Mancuso show so my expectations are not high, but I'm going in the afternoon to see Usha, who is vending --and hopefully, we will go out for our usual South Indian dinner after the show. 

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 ...