Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Happy New Year, I guess. It’s hard to imagine, at this point, what this year will bring and frankly I don’t have the mental energy to put on my optimistic face and conjure thoughts of “better times ahead” or other such positive thoughts. I’m not feeling especially pessimistic, just deeply uncertain and resigned to taking 2022 a day at a time. For more than 10 years I have made a small ritual of choosing a word for the New Year. This started in an online group I belonged to and I liked the idea of an aspirational word, rather than resolutions to aspire to. I chose my word, then made a tiny banner to hang on my studio wall as a reminder. Here are some from recent years.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Sunday, July 04, 2021
I mentioned in my last post that I have been doing a lot of sun printing, and from that, and posts of my prints online in various venues, I’m getting quite a few questions, so rather than try to respond individually to each question I decided to post a how-to here. Before I begin I want to mention that I took a class with Betty Busby a couple years ago and part of that class dealt with her techniques used in sun printing, which vastly improved and added to what I already knew, so credit to her for some of what I’m doing here.
DESIGNING AND MAKING A STENCIL
This is the design I used. I created it on my iPad, using the Procreate app. I saved it as a jpeg to use to make a stencil using my Silhouette cutting machine. You can use commercial stencils or homemade stencils. You can cut stencils from paper, all kinds of vinyl or plastic sheets, Tyvek, Mylar—endless possibilities. You can cut them by hand using little scissors or an Xacto knife or a cutting machine. In addition to stencils, you can use all kinds of objects for sun printing, that lay flat and create interesting designs—leaves, ferns, string, coins, metal washers, rubber bands, paper clips, etc, etc.
Friday, July 02, 2021
July arrived yesterday. Earlier this week we were sweating out (literally) the hottest temperatures we’ve ever experienced here, but July arrived yesterday bearing a cool breeze and an invitation to walk through the garden in comfort. This morning is lovely again and I sat with my coffee to catch up with the world by way of my iPad and clicked on a Facebook “memory” from a year ago. It was a music video I watched over and over last summer, and I realized I had tears in my eyes. It took me right back to 12 months ago and the surreality of the horror that was rapidly overtaking us. In the spring we knew we were in a pandemic and we’d have to hunker down for a few weeks—at worst, a couple months—and get past it. By July we knew it was bigger than anyone imagined and people were sickening and dying by the thousands. We were beginning to understand how truly horrifying it really was and I desperately craved moments of grace and beauty. So, for me, I followed the guidelines and then I distracted myself. I made art, I watched Netflix, I read, I listened to music and I watched that lovely video over and over, and through it all I kept reassuring myself that it would all be OK eventually. So summer rolls around again and here we are, getting much closer to being OK. We can exhale and find more joy today.
Last summer I spent long days in my studio and one of my joys was cutting stencils and making sun printed fabric to use in my artwork. For a couple weeks I printed stripes in rich colors. They were like capturing sunshine in cloth.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
We got our vaccines awhile ago and I felt like crying with gratitude with the first one. We are looking forward to being with friends, traveling and mostly just knowing that the bad dream that was 2020 is ending and everyone can, literally, breathe easier. Maybe. I thought everyone was eagerly awaiting the vaccine, but now that it’s here, that doesn’t seem to be universally true. It surprises me, but I guess it shouldn’t. I got into a little dispute with a family member a few days ago and it still has me shaking my head. “We need to respect all opinions about the vaccine,” she said, clearly in defense of her own decision not to be vaccinated. I agreed that I respect her right to an opinion, but I feel no obligation to respect that opinion, if it seems uninformed and selfish. I think the word “selfish” got to her. She unfriended me. I guess she didn’t respect my opinion. Oh well.
I know I’m opinionated and maybe have too much to say sometimes, but, as Albert Einstein said, “Silence is complicity.” In my opinion, now is not a good time to be complicit, in this case, to lending support to the enemy (the virus) by agreeing that it’s fine to assist it in flourishing and evolving in new and even more dangerous ways and assuring that this AWFUL, STUPID, HORRIBLE, DEADLY PANDEMIC NEVER ENDS! And that is how I feel about that! OK, glad I got that off my chest. Sorry if I alarmed you.
So we, and all but the youngest in our immediate family, are vaccinated and feeling a degree of true freedom. Summer seems like a shiny prize waiting just over the horizon, after a year spent indoors. Yesterday I scouted outdoor locations for a July meeting of our local art quilt group after more than a year of Zooming. I am envisioning all of us, in lawn chairs, visiting and sharing our current projects in some lovely spot. Maybe this one...?
I mentioned, awhile back, how much I enjoyed the presentation by Austin Kleon that was part of our SAQA conference so I ordered his book.
It is a small book, quick to read and filled with the kind of things we all should know, but maybe don’t, or maybe need to be reminded of. I loved it, then I laughed out loud when I got to this page, near the end.
Are you talking to me?
OK, then. I’m leaving the internet and going to the studio...
Monday, May 10, 2021
This is the door to my studio, which has truly been my refuge during the pandemic. I have spent a lot of time out here this past year and I’ve done a lot of work and I’ve had a lot of time to think, and I’ve asked myself, several times “why am I doing this?” Oddly, I think that’s a question most us don’t ask frequently enough and it’s an important question. As I get older the answer changes. Honestly, I like to work. I see friends, who like me, retired from full time, paid jobs years ago and who spend their days puttering around their houses and gardens, reading, occasionally going out to play cards or visit friends. They seem content to do that, and good for them, but that’s not for me. I want to keep working and so the studio continues to call to me. But lately I’m feeling the need to simplify my studio time. I’m suddenly wondering why I’m juggling so many projects at once. It’s become exhausting. Why am I doing that?
Right now I am a part of the Cloth in Common group. We produce a quilt, made to a theme, every two months on a set schedule. So that’s a repeating deadline. I belong to High Fiber Diet, a local group that meets monthly and puts together a themed exhibit once a year. I also show work at a local gallery and need to continue to produce work for that. And now I have been selected to produce a piece for a regional SAQA book and exhibit, and I am doing the design and layout of the book. Suddenly it’s more than enough. Why am I doing that? Maybe it’s an age issue, but I just don’t multi-task with the ease that I once did.
Behind that orange door today you will find my Cloth in Common piece under construction on my work table,
And my High Fiber Diet piece at my sewing machine.
And I would be going back and forth, fretting about my progress and deadline for each.
So, why am I doing all this? Well, I do just love making art—but less and less on a deadline, and less and less to a prescribed theme and size. I do love sharing my work, so I appreciate the opportunity to see it exhibited and published, but I don’t need the exposure. I’m not trying to sell my skills as a teacher or lecturer. I’m not writing a book and I’m not depending on sales to feed myself. I just love the making. So after asking myself that question I’ve decided that after this month’s reveal for Cloth in Common, which is the final one of the current “round,” that I will be leaving that group. It has been a great couple of years with a group of wonderful people, who have become friends I will continue to stay in contact with, but, from the beginning, it was stressful to keep up and I haven’t always done my best work in that context. I think that will relieve some of the stress I’ve been feeling and give me space to enjoy the other work I am doing, since Cloth in Common was so ever present as a looming deadline. It is with gratitude and affection, along with a sense of relief, that I made this decision.
I’ll keep asking myself why I’m doing this thing that I don’t need to do. And since, at this stage of my life I have the luxury of not needing, I will continue to do what I want to do and what makes me happy. Maybe this is a gift of the pandemic.