Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow and Inspiration

We had our first snow last week.

Luckily we missed major accumulation, and because of the cold temps, some interesting results were left behind.

And there were a few leaves still to fall.

I have not been able to make any progress with one of my Celestial Navigation pieces, so I decided to put together a kit I bought recently. I am a sucker for kits when I go to quilt shows, but have a bad record of finishing them. I thought maybe cutting and sewing might get the juices flowing. Well, let's just say it's been a long time since I made a piece this large: it's 75 by 75 inches, and that's without borders. I had to lay it out on my living room floor which meant moving furniture and bending over way too much. I've pieced the first five rows--just five to go--and I've realized my patience for precision piecing ain't what it used to be. Plus I'm bored with the fabrics I didn't choose. All in all, an eye-opening project.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pearly Gates

Been having a little home improvement done around the place. Here's our new fence that goes all around our corner property. I think the neighbors are even happier than we are. The old fence lasted 15 years, which is pretty good for wood, most recently held together by paint, green mold, and chicken wire at the bottom to keep the little dog in because he discovered in the last couple years that he could squeeze through the spaces between the pickets. He's foiled now because the spaces are smaller!

How long does it take to chose the right shade of green? The answer is that there's never enough time. I chose one, it's still not perfect, but it'll do, even though I have to see it every morning. It's for the master bath, which is small.  Happily the shade of blue in our dining room that I've lived with and loved for many years worked well for the hall bath.

As the days get colder my gorgeous impatiens are losing their kick. They were spectacular this year, partly due to all the rain we had but also due to the fertilizer I forgot I added to the pots. I will miss them. Now looking forward to getting some mums, though I already have some pumpkins that the critters are munching.

And now it is raining, raining, raining. And will continue through the weekend. But no snow here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monotypes and Monoprints

Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time with Rayna at her studio. We worked with Akua color paints using her table top press to print on paper and fabric. (I tried to remember the difference between a monotype and monoprint. I do know--now--but don't ask me.) The colors we used were red, yellow, and black. We got tired of them by the end of the day, but were so busy figuring out how much paint to use, how to apply it best, what difference the paper made, what fabric worked, etc., etc., that we'll have to save color play for next time.

We started out with leaves. And did a lot of experimentation.

Then I made a collagraph plate using masking tape, duct tape, cut paper, bark, fabric scraps, and thread:

And here it is after being used and its printed image on paper:

We were both amazed how the subtle elements in the materials you use--for example, teeny pinhole stripes on the duct tape--show up in the print. And I kept forgetting that the image gets reversed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


For 41 years I have been coming to this same wonderful lake in the northwoods of Michigan. It has always been a time of rest and renewal. There are friends and family to visit with and beauty everywhere. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Wind rising.

Sometimes the dog gets in the picture.

Sunset light on cedars.

Sunset light on docks.

Sunset through trees.

Moon rise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To, Too, Two

So, what have I been up TO? Well, it's certainly been TOO long since my last post. More than TWO months. The weather here has been depressingly rainly lately, although everything looks very green, including some things--like my white picket fence--that shouldn't. In April I managed to work outside and discharge a number of pieces. More on those when I make more progress. I also soda-ashed a number of fabrics for continuing work. When it's a sunny day, the front bushes make an excellent drying rack.

I also concluded an eight-week workshop at the Newark Museum. Here are some of the results. More work needed.

This is a close-up of one piece I've been working on. It started out as four small pieces, which I sewed together and am now trying to make into a whole. It's looking better, but still needs more work.

I'm lagging behind on the quilting of the Celestial Navigation series: one down, two to go. Crit group is coming up in about a week: nothing like a deadline to spur progress.

Hope the weather is good where you are.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Annual Pilgrimage

I'm back from my annual trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where for two days I enjoy food, friends, and fabric. The weather was on the damp side, but nothing can deter us from hitting our annual high points, including lunch at Glassmyers in Lititz where we go for sustenance in the form of BLTs before the fabric hunt.

Nothing fancy, but awfully tasty and a once-a-year treat.

Then it was on to various locations in search of that "must-have" fabric. After visiting Zook's, I was surprised to find this fellow staring at me.

One of my purchases was backing for a small oak leaf and reel quilt. Every now and then I feel the need to work on something more traditional, and I think this is the next project. I completed the applique blocks a while ago--well, a long while ago--and I think it's time they got put together before they become a forlorn little pile in an antiques shop.

Also enjoyed seeing the quilt exhibits at QHL. Always neat to see the work of people I know only online. And also great to see award-winning work created by people I know in "real life."

As fun as this annual trip is, it's also a time for me to quietly pay respects to the part of the family that arrived in the Lancaster area almost three hundred years ago and built a homestead that still stands.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back to the Studio

Well, not exactly my studio, but back to Newark Museum's Arts Workshop and an eight-week class with Judy Langille. Someday I'll get my basement studio organized for dyeing, but that will be a long time coming I'm afraid. In the meantime, the space and company is great at Newark, and I'm getting back into some previously started pieces after a too-long hiatus. I forgot to take photos of befores and afters, but I did snap this photo after adding three colors. It's still batching, so I'm not sure the colors will be as strong as I'd like, but as I don't like the piece at all yet, there's more work to be done anyway.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sometimes It's the Little Things

On Sunday, I had a chance to exercise the knee at the Somerset, NJ, quilt show. (The knee survived, but is still a bit stiff. More physical therapy today.) The Somerset show has become a sort of harbinger of spring for me: it falls between the one in Willamsburg, which I never get to, and Lancaster, which I've been going to for ages. I always like to see the ribbon winners from Williamsburg, especially when they are by friends, like Gloria Hansen who won a blue ribbon for Blushing Triangles #4. There were also some interesting special exhibits, including an exhibit of an every-AKC-breed dog quilt by Linda Hibbert. (Need I say I still have the patterns and the black and white fabrics to make blocks for an English Springer Spaniel and a Shih Tzu?)

I was overwhelmed by fabric and gadgets. But so happy with the things I bought: a small hoop, a piece of beeswax, and a fat quarter of a fabric that called to me. Plus I treated myself to a beautiful scarf from Usha at Heirloom Batik.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Still February

How can such a short month seem so long? Between the snow and physical therapy, I'd like it to end now, please. However, Mr. Cardinal has appeared several times, a hopeful sign. And, as you can see, the snow has melted. For now.

Meanwhile, I have been working on a couple of pieces with the SDA members' show in mind. This first one falls a bit short of the size requirement of 18" x 18" and I'm not sure I want to add more fabric on the sides, which it would need.

So, I've started working on another contender that is just about large enough to start with. I'm about 2/3 finished with the embroidery, and then I have to figure out what to do next, i.e., should I sandwich and quilt it or should I edge it and call it done? A sleeve has to be put on the back, and I don't like the idea of sewing one directly to the front. This quandary is coming up more and more as I seem to be making more "art cloth" rather than "quilts." Of course, time is of the essence, but so is the presentation. Decisions, decisions. Any thoughts?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Well Lit

Today the exhibit New Year = New Yearnings at the Watchung Arts Center in Watchung, New Jersey, is coming down. My work was included with that of 11 other New Jersey fiber artists including Rayna Gillman, Diane Savona, Judy Langille, Joanie San Chirico, Hollie Heller, and Joan Dreyer. (These are the ones who have websites.) Luckily I managed to get to the opening earlier this month to see everyone and savor the art (and the good food).

One of the most important things about any exhibit is the lighting. We were all pleased with the space and the lighting at the WAC. As you can see from this photo, my piece Imperial Palace was well lit and closely scrutinized.
Last week I was able to go to a gala performance of Elisa Monte Dance at the Joyce Theater in NYC. It has been so long since I've been into the city, let alone for a fascinating performance and lively reception afterward. At the reception, I sat next to the lighting director and it was interesting to talk with someone who was so knowledgeable about lighting. This is not a great photo--I used my phone--but, yes, that's the Empire State Building in the background. I would say it's pretty well lit. I had a good time and even though I had my first martini in months, I did not get well lit myself. And the service was so sneaky that my glass was cleared from the table before I could get to the olives--the best part.

I hope you noticed that I have managed to post twice in the same month--just barely. The knee is finally making progress. Now if it would just stop snowing/sleeting/raining every few days I could start to make my way around town more often.

Although I haven't done much fiber art work lately, I have updated my website, so please take a look.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There's Nothing Like a Good Damask

For those of you who subscribe to the zen of ironing, you will understand that I have had quite a meditative morning. I started out at the ironing board with the fabrics my daughter used to wrap her Christmas presents. And I got to keep everyone's wrapping. Yes, that's actual sheen on the fabric, not the flash. I think most of these are from Mali as she spent some time there as a vacation from her Peace Corps post in The Gambia.

This was what was wrapped in one of the fabrics: more fabric! Could I be happier? It's a wise daughter who knows her mother. Isn't it spectacular? The color is really more of a deep brown, which shows better in the detail below.

Here is a close-up. On one selvedge it says, "Guaranteed Real Wax Damask Dadawa"; on the other, "Veritable Wax Bazinrich Dadawa."

Ironing those fabrics and seeing the word "damask" reminded me that it was about time to iron all the cloth napkins awaiting attention. I won't tell you for how long they've been waiting, but they had at least been washed and were clean. As I sorted through them--to bleach, starch and iron--a few more fell by the wayside into the ragbag. I am always sad when they "graduate" because the damask designs are so lovely, and I get a bit nostalgic about the meals they accompanied. I realized that while the napkins I bought nearly forty years ago have all graduated, some of the really old ones are still going strong. One of my favorites has the most wonderful monogram (see above) and is a heavy damask.

I only get as far as ironing my damask napkins, but if you want to see the remarkable things one artist does with them and with other household objects, please take a look at and enjoy my friend Diane Savona's work.

Now, to more ironing . . .er, meditation.