Monday, July 30, 2012

this month

Has been a bit busy, both with good things and things I could have done without.  Among the good things -- along with my friend Aleeda, establishing the North Jersey Modern Quilt Guild, which has had two meetings and is off to a great start.

In the last few weeks I've had the pleasure of striking up a friendship with Don Mettler, an experienced and talented needlework artist who has been making non-traditional quilts for more than 25 years. For the most part, he worked in commercial fabrics - but these days he's doing surface design and mixed media and having a blast!

Don is experimenting these days with gel glue - applying it directly to the fabric as a resist. I use Elmer's (or CVS's) blue gel glue but Don says he can't find the blue gel in Arizona and is using the clear gel glue instead. Hmmm..I've never seen clear gel glue. Maybe it depends on the part of the country you live in.  Anyway, last night's email brought me a picture of his most recent pieces. This very graphic stripe was done with glue applied to the fabric.
I never had much success with glue on fabric, so I suggested to Don he try glue on a screen. This gold/orange/brown cloth was printed with a combination - the first layers were directly on the fabric; the second layer was added with glue as a resist on the screen. The squares were done with a stencil and glue --totally different feeling from the previous piece.

Don's just getting back into doing his artwork after a long hiatus and I can't wait to see what he does with these two printed pieces. Don and I have become good buddies and I hope to meet him and his wife when I am in Arizona in January to teach at Quilting in the Desert.

My brother was here for two weeks while we worked on making a small dent in my mother's apartment.
It was a treat to spend quiet time with Jon - he makes me laugh and we can be happy and comfortable just sharing space, having cocktails at the end of the grueling day and sitting and reading on the deck till it got dark.  Here is Jon, relaxing with a book. I put mine down long enough to take this picture.
Here we are with my mother, who was so happy to see her son! My nephew Harry took this picture and amazingly, got a smile out of my mother.  She usually hates having her picture taken.
Finally, I have been in the studio for the past two days.  Today, I began to print a few of the commission scarves and then went back to work on the piece on my wall.  It is almost done, I think, but I am not showing it here.

I also finished requilting my piece, Strata, which really needed better stitching than I gave it when I first made it a couple of years ago.  Right now it is on my design wall being blocked (you can see the piins) and I am much happier with the stitching.
 I had never put a sleeve on it because I didn't think it was ready to hang anywhere.  Now it is - so after blocking, that's the next step.  Then I can finish the other one in what is turning out to be a series of some sort, albeit unintended.

Tell me about your series -- are they intended or unintended? I'm putting together a lecture on working in a series and while nobody agrees on the definition of a series, I'd like to explore it. So let me hear from you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

starting fresh

After almost two physically and emotionally exhausting weeks dealing with the apartment owned by an apparent relative of the Collyer Brothers* I am ready for a vacation.

*The brothers are often cited as an example of compulsive hoarding associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as disposophobia or Collyer brothers syndrome, a fear of throwing anything away.

My partner in crime and I made a slight dent in the neatly organized stuff crammed into every drawer and closet. On Friday, more assistants arrived and one of them was rewarded with three drop-dead gorgeous dresses from 50 years ago that fit her perfectly and make her look as though she just got off the set of Mad Men.

My reward? a living room full of boxes and bags and envelopes of photographs and letters waiting to be sorted and distributed so they will become other peoples' problems. Ha ha - right now, they are merely my problem - and they are the tip of the iceberg.  More awaits!!

But for the moment, I am not looking back -- only ahead.  I plan to go back to the gym, return to my studio, and get back to work.  I have a commission of 50 scarves that I need to get busy printing; I have contracts and supply lists and jpgs to send out for the classes I will be teaching in the next 2 years;
I have work on the wall in the "slow design" stage and a quilt I have to finish stitching.  All has been neglected, as has my blog. It is time for ME.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

this has been a week

Busy with family matters.
My brother and I are sorting through almost 100 years of paper and photos, so there is not much to say.

Will probably not post again till next week, as the family matters continue through another weekend. Here is my wordless Wed. photo a day early.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Sketchbook Challenge

More than a dozen years ago I started to keep a sketchbook. What prompted me, I have no idea - but I stopped when I was diagnosed with cancer a year later and never went back. Occasionally, it falls out of my bookcase and I flip through it. Of course, when I look at it now, I think there was some pretty cool stuff in there.  Although none of the ideas/sketches/doodles or collages ever got made into other art, some pages reflect what was going on in my life and I see that some things never change. Occasionally, I think I should find time to go back to it, so when Sue Bleiweiss' book, The Sketchbook Challenge, was published recently, I got my hands on a copy.

Can I tell you that I loved it? First, it is a visual treat. It is chock-full of gorgeous examples from a variety of artists who keep sketchbooks (I love to see what other people are doing!).  Second, it is loaded with ideas and inspiration - and even if you have never kept a sketchbook, all the information to get you going is right here.  Third - the book is so well organized that you can open it anywhere and get what you need.

 Each chapter gives you a jumping-off theme to get you going: elements, lines and grids, everyday objects, and simple pleasures are just a few to inspire you. Of course, you can ignore all of them and choose your own - and you probably will after you try a few of these.  Each chapter has examples,and techniques for working in a variety of mixed media. Drawing, painting, collage, image transfer, stamping.  Wax, watercolor, pencil, charcoal, fabric: anything goes!  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since I don't consider myself a sketchbook or journal person, I did not expect to get as excited as I did about going back to my sketchbook.  But honestly, this book has inspired me and I am ready to pick up where I left off at the end of 2000 and play around.  My colored pencils are languishing in the bottom drawer and I'm ready to get them out and start playing in my spiral-bound book.

Thanks, Sue, for getting me started again!

Friday, July 13, 2012

color inspiration

Taking a break from the endless task of ironing/sorting, I went to Whole Foods this afternoon because I was (horrors!) out of coffee. What could be worse?? .  They had raspberries 2/$5 so I picked up two boxes - among other necessities, including the coffee and goat cheese mozzarella. (well, the last item might become a necessity if it is good).  Then I decided I should go to the little farmer's market that sets up every summer Friday in the parking lot at the public library.  

I resisted the fresh corn, the early tomatoes (everything is early this year because of the long, hot spring) and instead of purple string beans, two shades of purple eggplant, yellow cauliflower with blue-green leaves, yellow-green garlic and the last little cardboard box of raspberries.  Don't they all look lovely together? When I go back to sorting fabric I shall see what I can find...

 Look at the size difference between the local raspberries and the Driscoll ones from the supermarket.
 The little ones look much friendlier - I think I will make some crème fraîche or vanilla frozen yogurt to go with them.
 Off to the kitchen!  Tomorrow I have a family wedding, so it will be a busy and lovely weekend. Wishing you the same.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

une nuit blanche

For the first time in ages, I was up late last night because I was working.  By the time I got to bed in the wee hours, I couldn't fall asleep.

I took out a piece I had begun while I was in Paducah last month.  I worked on it all week but after it got to a certain point, I had to put it away and do something else.  You know how that is, right?? 
Being able to work at 2:30 a.m. is an advantage if you have a proper design wall.  Mine is an old bulletin board, 30"x36", leaning against the wall in my hallway and draped with an old piece of batting. Not big enough, not high enough, but better than nothing. Here is a slice of what I have so far. I still have a long way to go and should really be in my studio working on my 10' wall, but it is hot there in summer, a/c notwithstanding.

Last night I actually made some progress, if you call ripping out a few strips and putting them back again, progress.  Maybe I'll work on it again a bit later in the day.  Or not.

Monday, July 09, 2012

weekend report

On Friday, my granddaughter Rebecca returned to Bethesda and her social life. Her father took this picture before they left.

My weekend started Friday night with First Friday gallery-hopping in a nearby town. Saturday, lunch at a friend's and then a trip down the shore.  Diana Krall, my favorite jazz singer and pianist was performing at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ, so that concert was our destination.
Ocean Grove is a visually charming, Victorian square mile full of houses like these.  It was founded by the Methodists as a religious community by the Ocean Group Camp Meeting Society. You can read another version of the town's unique history here.

 Religion is Ocean Grove's focus to this very day but they have non-sectarian events in their auditorium from time to time (hence, Diana Krall). Every summer, worshipers descend on this pristine beach town and set up tents to live in. It has been thus since the 19th century.

Asbury Park, home of Bruce Springsteen and the Stone Pony, is the next town.  I remember, as I was growing up, that there was a locked gate across the boardwalk between Ocean Grove and Asbury, so unless you were a resident of Ocean Grove, you could not enter.  In 1980, the courts outlawed that as a violation of church and state, so now you can walk the boardwalk from one town to the other.

In the left background is what remains of the Asbury Park Convention Center, above. It is apparently on the national register of historic places, but it doesn't look that way:-(.  We passed these muscicians on the way into the shell of the old Casino.  They were excellent and we stopped to give them a donation and chat. They're on tour.

This is the shell of the famous Casino (above) which is supposedly being restored.  I don't see much evidence of it, do you??


Nonetheless, the boardwalk in Asbury is coming back.  It's crowded and noisy and Madame Marie is apparently still in business telling fortunes.  We didn't have time to stop because we had to go eat dinner before the concert.

A P.S. on the concert, which was terrific: there was a bad storm 1/2 hour before concert time and the electricity in the whole town of Ocean Grove went out.  Through an heroic effort, authorities got service back for the Great Hall and the concert went on an hour late.  Worth it!  And the air cooled off considerably.

Sunday, a spur of the moment invitation to meet friends at the movies.  Another must-see picture:
The Intouchables.  Simply marvelous.  See it!!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

now, where was I....?

It has been a busier week than usual. My 16 year old granddaughter has been visiting me for the week and it has been great fun.  We've shopped, gone into NY twice, seen a Broadway show and a movie and done more shopping. We missed the fireworks because we were to exhausted, but that was ok. We assume there is always next year.

Tuesday we went to the Tkts booth in downtown Brooklyn because you can buy half-price tickets there for Wednesday's matinees.  We got tickets for July 4th afternoon for Peter and the Dream Catcher and then took the subway to Jessica's.  After Emma's nap and some gymnastics activities (hers, not mine) we went out to dinner at Carlton Park, that wonderful organic restaurant on the corner of -- what else? - Carlton & Park.  Here is Emma, contemplating the carrot which she has just dipped in hummus - one of her favorite foods.

Wednesday - back into the CIty for lunch and the theatre.  We walked up 9th Ave, looking for a suitable lunch place and along the way, a few sights...
getting ready for crowd control

 something replacing something else.

street art!


We discovered a terrific Indian restaurant and had a yummy lunch. The show, Peter & the Dream Catcher, was a delight, and we came home tired but happy.

Hope you had a lovely July 4th, too.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

I don't do challenges

...but I am participating in the block challenge my co-leader has come up with. We are making a collaborative quilt to send to MODCON (Modern Quilt Guild Conference). and everybody in the North Jersey  MQG has an assignment. Of course, since we are the un-guild guild, these are voluntary. (Are assignments ever voluntary or is that an oxymoron??).

True to un-guild tradition (which we are establishing as we go along), the guidelines are few:
1) block can be either 5.5" x 10.5" or 10.5" x 10.5"
2) use 3 colors, one of which is your least favorite and one of which is white.
3) fabrics can be prints, hand-dyes, solids, hand-prints - whatever.  Except the white, which must be solid white.
That's it.

The blocks are due at the August meeting but I wanted to get mine out of the way, so I got to work sooner rather than later.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to make something "modern" and uncharacteristic, so I made some rectangular and square units in three colors and made a bunch of different layouts. I will spare you all the permutations, but here are a couple of them.

this one was too orderly and reminded me, for some odd reason, of argyle plaid.  Yes, I know that argyle is diamonds but that doesn't change anything. Since I dislike argyle, this was out.
This one didn't work. It wasn't balanced enough and even if it had been, it was boring.

 I actually liked this one and it was the best of the lot. There were many in between, which just goes to show how fraught with possibililties these two units can be.  But in the end, it wasn't "me" and after I sewed it together I decided to get out the old rotary cutter and slash away.  What a relief!!

Here's what I ended up with (minus the errant thread on the lower right:-)

I am much happier with this, especially knowing that it won't be repeated -- even if I were to try, which I won't. On the other hand, it has given me another idea...

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 ...