Sunday, April 19, 2015

On Originality

So here's a little story, pretty amazing in its small-world coincidences, but probably also illustrative of how Facebook has tightened up the degrees of separation between us all.

Last Thursday morning I opened up Facebook and saw, first thing, that a FB friend, who lives in another city, had reposted a post from a Quilt Shop, in yet another city, showcasing the work of one of their customers, "Carol". What surprised and confused me, was that, at first I thought I was looking at photos of my own work, especially this one.

On closer inspection I could see that it was not mine, but a very close copy. Here is my original work, posted on my blog in 2009.

See why I was confused?
And, here's the crazy thing. My friend did not post this because she recognized it as my design, but because "Carol", maker of the top bird, is her cousin. She was just sharing her pride in the shop's recognition of her creative cousin!
I contacted the quilt shop. They were embarrassed and apologetic and, with amazing speed, added a note clarifying that the work posted was a copy of my original design. And that works for me. I have no interest in embarrassing anyone, which is why I have not included names or locations for anyone involved here. I feel quite certain the quilt shop that posted did so innocently believing the work was Carol's. Carol probably did not either think or know to tell anyone otherwise and, by omission, allowed assumptions to be made. It happens. All. The. Time. But it shouldn't.
You may think I am being petty, and what does it matter, anyway? I think it matters. Copyright is a legal matter. Copying someone else's intellectual property and representing it as your own is illegal. More to my point though, is that it is a matter of personal integrity. Can you imagine my mixture of feelings reading the comments left for Carol?

"Beautiful...I especially love the bird and sun. . . .These make me happy. :)"

"She is one talented lady...beautiful."

So, as this type of thing comes up more and more often, and is discussed in the art quilting community, there are all kinds of justifications made for copying, just as there are condemnations, and I understand those justifications—that it is a learning exercise, that it is for private use, that there are really "no new ideas" and on and on, but to me it is simple. If you do not have permission, don't do it. Do your own work. Discover the joy of creating something uniquely yours. It will mean so much more to you. Honestly, it will. If you simply cannot find that in yourself, find a published pattern, made for the purpose of being copied. (And then give credit to the original designer any time you show it anywhere!)

And, while I'm on the subject, see that "Fire" piece above? That photo has been pinned to Pinterest many, many times. At least twice a month I get an email from someone asking if I have a pattern for it, or if they can copy it. I do not offer a pattern. This was an original work. I really don't want to allow copies. I doubt that the lovely woman who bought it wants to see copies floating around the internet either. I am thrilled that you like it that well and hope you can be satisfied to just enjoy it on Pinterest.

Thank you.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Feeling Spring

Ray and I have been trying out different walking trails. Between rain showers, it is such a great time of year to walk. The smell of the earth and the green and the flowers, washed clean, is divine. Warm sunshine, chilly shade, mud, moss and birdsong. Sunday we explored the trails around the Jenkins Estate, which is quite close to where we live.

It is a beautiful 68 acre estate on a hillside, out in the countryside. The main house, above, was built as a summer home in 1912 and it is a woodsy, Craftsman beauty. That deep shady porch was made for summer teas and wedding parties. Makes you want a floaty pastel dress, big hat and parasol. Eventually it was purchased by our local Parks and Recreation district and it is used as an events venue for weddings, quilt shows and all sorts of gatherings. The guild I used to belong to once had our quilt show in the wonderfully rustic old stables just down from the house. It was great—probably the best quilt show venue I've ever seen. The quilts were hung in the stalls. It has become a favorite place of mine. The grounds have gardens, woods, a farmhouse, a playground, a gazebo and several miles of walking trails. The Rhododendron garden is especially spectacular this time of year. Though we have attended a number of events here, we had never walked the trails until yesterday.

I think these are Oregon Fawn Lilies.

I am lucky to live here.


Back home, I spent some good hours in the studio, starting a new piece for our Making Our Mark show. I got this far.


Then I opened this photo in my drawing app and played with ideas for stitching this, using a heavy white thread.

I don't think this is quite what I want, but how cool to be able to try ideas out before I actually stitch.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Today, in the studio

Next to my scissors and sewing machines I think my ironing equipment is my most used tool in my studio. I am pretty hard on them, with all the gluey, fusey stuff I use and I needed a new iron, so instead of going to a thrift store and buying a second hand iron that I don't feel guilty about ruining, (which is what I usually do) I ordered a fancy new iron with a titanium sole plate that was highly recommended by my internet friends on the SAQA list.

The utter loveliness of this iron pointed up how gunky and crummy my ironing surface was looking. (One thing always leads to another doesn't it?) You might remember that I made this ironing table, using an old kitchen corner cabinet with lazy Susan shelves inside. The notched out corner has a hinged door that accesses the shelves. It has turned out to be very handy. The ironing surface, itself is a piece of plywood I padded and covered with that silver ironing board cover fabric. The plywood worked okay, but wasn't sturdy enough to keep from bending into that notched corner.

So before I recovered it I reinforced the outer edges by screwing 1x2 boards all around. I love using power tools!

I also added some little support boards that fit just inside the new "frame" on the bottom of the plywood so it won't slide around. This will be a big improvement.

Then I covered the old cloth with new, clean un-gunked ironing fabric. The top is so much more solid now and worthy of the new iron.

Checked that one off the to-do list.

I have had this moth hanging on my design wall for a couple weeks.

I made it thinking it would be my donation for the SAQA auction this year. But it seemed kind of unfinished. Today I finally had an inspiration.

I think that background stitching was what it needed.

Also checked off the list.

Then the mail arrived, with a book I ordered on a whim last week.

I came across this, on the Internet, while looking for something else. It is 25 years old, printed in Italy and not expensive, so I ordered it. It is mostly a picture book and pretty delightful. I'm happy.

My favorite thing are the old prints and illustrations depicting scissors.

A good day in the studio.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful . . .

We have had an especially nice week, culminating with Easter and my birthday today. Ray's twin brother was here for several days and we used his visit as an excuse to get out and indulge in some Oregon beauty. The last time we spent with Roy was so profoundly sad, that we were ready for some springtime, some lightness and something just plain joyful, to share.

A downtown Portland day started us out, then the next day found us south of the city, off the main roads and heading for the tulip fields. Have I told you how much I love springtime in Oregon? The blossoms, the green—unlike any green!—the mist, the gray-blue of clouds and sky, the stark, graphic trees. . . It is what spring should always be.

And mud, of course. This year I remembered to wear my boots. . .

. . because we walked out muddy lanes, into the fields of technicolor, tulip-y amazingness. It is almost too much color to absorb all at once. You feel your cells begin to vibrate with the intensity of color and the weariness of winter just leaves your body, swirling away in the moist breeze.

Tulips. They can fix you. And maybe waterfalls can do that too, so from the tulips we wound our way on those back roads to Silver Falls State Park.

Down, down, down, this trail we went to the bottom of the lower falls. Hiking back up was hard, really hard, but the trip so worth it.

You can get a sense of the scale from the fence and the people on the trail where it goes behind the falls.

There were small rewards along that steep trail and beautiful old log buildings at the top, built during the Great Depression by the CCC.

On Roy's last day with us we headed for the beach, driving along the Columbia River to its mouth at Astoria. The sun was shing brightly along the beach and we meandered down the coast, stopping for lunch, then a stop to see the "What's blue to you?" exhibit in Cannon Beach. We ended the day at the Spirit Mountain casino, out in the wilds between Portland and the ocean to see Gladys Knight in concert. The concert was part of my birthday celebration—indulging our nostalgic love of Motown and Gladys and that Midnight train. Memories of dancing around the living room, when our kids were young, doing our best Pip moves and joining in on the "Woo Woo!!", we've always loved Gladys, who is still joyful and strong and vibrant. What a voice. Perfect.

So, it's been a great week. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And Happy Birthday to me.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Terry's Technicolor Dream Shoes

This is kind of a rant. About shoes. I have reached the point in my life where shoes are constantly on my mind. Not so much because I am such a shoe fashionista, but because my feet hurt and I want comfortable shoes, especially to travel and walk in. And I kind of want them to look good. I have spent way too much money in this quest. I have bought expensive shoes and cheap shoes and lots inbetween.

Last fall when we were going to Spain I read a friend's post on Facebook about the shoes she had worn to Paris and how she wore them everyday and how wonderful and comfortable they were, so I messaged her to find out what they were. Skechers Go Walk shoes. I went out and bought a pair and they were all she claimed and not even really expensive. I took several pairs of shoes to Spain, but these were the shoes I wore.

Here they are walking on beautiful tiles at the Alhambra.

They really are the most comfortable shoes I have worn in recent memory, including some very highly regarded fancy expensive shoes. I loved these shoes. They are squishy, yet supportive. I could walk all day on cobblestones and up crumbling stairs. They are lightweight and actually pretty washable. They held up well and I continue to wear them. Summer is coming and we are planning another trip and I think I want another pair. Something a little more exciting than gray would be nice, but I go here to look at them and what do I find? Gray. More gray. Black. More black. Then, icky pastel-y 5-year-old colors--turquoise, hot pink and lavender. These are not my colors. These, I guess. are old lady shoes. I'll own that. But I am insulted by what, I guess, are supposed to be old lady colors.  These, I suppose, are keyed to go with floral polyester blouses and polyester pull-on pants. Have shoe designers ever really looked at what women of a certain age are wearing outside the nursing home???

I have some suggestions for the designers at Skechers. If you made some good colors I would buy your shoes in multiples. I came up with some ideas. What do you think?

How hard could that be?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Love of Fabric

It's a funny thing, what our passions turn out to be. I know most people don't get as excited about fabric and pattern, and most of all the combination of those two things, the way I do. There are other things that do it for them. Science. Politics. Music. Or...

It is an appetite. That is the best way I can describe it. My eyes crave pattern like my tongue craves certain flavors and textures. And the act of visually "consuming" a particularly rich and diverse selection of textile pattern and color is as satisfying as a wonderful meal.

Last week Paula Benjaminson brought some of her collection of African textiles to show at our SAQA meeting. If you have an appetite for such things it was a feast.

The "crackle" lines in this batiked piece made me crazy in love with it...

Mud. This pattern, color, warm loveliness was created with mud.

Then she brought out her collection of African printing blocks. My heart raced.

I could look at that lizard up there all day.

It was a good day.

Today I have been getting work ready for a show. Labeling, writing up an inventory sheet, rolling, wrapping, packaging, wondering what, if anything, people will like. I never know. Sorting through inventory, I came upon this little piece, made 5 years ago, along with a group of similar pieces.

It was my favorite of the bunch, yet the only one that never sold. So today I carried it back from the studio and hung it next to the closet door just after you walk into the house. Looks like it was meant to be there all along.

It must have been meant for me. I suppose that's why no one else wanted it, though last year at my open studio a woman, who was not buying anything, picked it up, waggled it under my nose and said, " this is the best one..."


Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello, it's me again


I don't need to tell you that my blog has been neglected. I'd like to say it was because I have been so darn busy working that I didn't have time to write. The truth is I've been neglecting the studio as well. Our early, lovely spring weather has had me in its thrall. My friends Kristin and Art LaFlamme came to town to house hunt and stayed in the studio. I couldn't resist tagging along to see some of their house finds and stop for lunch and then go out for dinner. And then I think we did it all over again. After they left, Ray and I took a day off and went downtown to lunch at the food carts in the sunshine and then took in the current show at the Portland Art Museum. I've shopped, I've knit, I've met with friends and spent time with grandchildren. I have not worked at much of anything. It's been great. But today I was ready to get back to work and that orange studio door called to me.

I was back at my little stitched drawings. I liked the natural linen I have been using for the backgrounds and decided to try some on this blue-gray linen. Another scene from the Ecuadoran market. This lady was selling dried corn and beans. Remember the other market piece?

I liked how it turned out and I sent it off for the SAQA conference auction, so I made another, slightly larger.

You know what? Doing the same thing again isn't really fun. I don't think I'll do that again.

My wonderful Dr. Slick fly-tying scissors are so good for trimming those added fabrics.

Winter hardly made an appearance this year. Spring came early and stayed. I'm not complaining and I'm not feeling guilty about enjoying it while everyone back east is buried in snow. A price will be paid, I imagine. It's not good to have so little snowpack in the mountains. Yesterday it rained and blew a tree down at the end of our driveway, but today was beautiful and now, in addition to the daffodils, we have tulips blooming. There is no arguing with tulips. It is spring.