Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time passing

Two years ago I made a little fabric hanging from some odds and ends of my fabrics and project by-products, to hang outside. I liked seeing it hanging on the tree next to the bridge and passed it daily.

It hung there through sun and rain, wind and weather. Last summer I noticed it had faded a bit.


Several weeks ago I found it in the mud at the foot of the tree, so I took it to the studio and washed it up, then hung it back on the tree.


It is aging even more noticeably than I am! But it still has life and seems even more at home and comfortable than when it was young and bright.

And so it goes...


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Portland Art Museum and more

The SAQA group often takes our meeting to the Portland Art Museum, especially when the current exhibit has some connection to fabric or fiber, as we did this last week. "Native Fashion Now" is a very exciting exhibit of fashion being created by contemporary Native American designers. The whole exhibit was such a wonderful combination of traditional motifs and ideas reimagined in very dramatic modern ways. Really a wonderful show! Don't miss it if you are in the area now through September 4.

I love the Portland Art Museum and count it as one of the best things about living here. Besides bringing in great work to show, they are masters at the Art of presentation. While I was there last week, my friends Suzy and Kristin and I headed over to the modern wing of the museum to see the museums recent acquisition by the Ghanaian artist, El Anatsui called called "Life Egg". It is spectacular, with a very fabric-like quality, though it is made from cast off materials, such as scrap aluminum and metal bottle caps and the seals from whiskey bottles. Inspiring and such shimmering beauty!

It was a great downtown day, capped with seeing the traveling roadshow of the Broadway production of "Motown, the Musical." Meanwhile back at the studio I spent a frenzied week of finishing and submitting work, followed by a week of finally getting to some clothing projects I've had on hold.

Last winter I bought a pattern for a summer dress, to use a length of pretty purple linen I've been sitting on, awaiting the right thing, for awhile.

I think it will be cool and nice for a hot day—barely touches the body!

Then I tackled a repurposing of a favorite shirt that got a bleach spot. (Don't you hate that?). I dug around in my stash and came up with a couple fabrics to add to the shirt after cutting off the ruined section. I also cut off the cuffs and added a new look to the sleeves. I wore it to my STASH meeting for their opinions on the result and was assured it it wasn't dumb and no, it doesn't look like a beautician's smock. I lose perspective on some of my clothing choices and feel very insecure. I count on my friends to not let me look stupid.

So, summer is here. I put in a long day in the studio today, before the summer activity begins! Travel, grandchildren, friends and days outdoors beckon.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Rainy Day Entertainment


It was an on again, off again rain day today—sun, rain, clouds, big rain, more sun, little rain, repeat. All this left Ray frustrated in his yard work effort so he suggested we check out some estate sales. I was ready for a little break too, so after consulting Craig's List, we headed west through the countryside toward the little town of Cornelius, where we found the earthly possessions of probably a pretty serious hoarder of stuff, spread out over a large property in tents and under canopies and piled along the fences and in the trees. Tools. The guy had hundreds of old, rusty tools. This is only the beginning of the tools.


Did I need these? Oh sure, I did. The tin snips probably aren't proper scissors, but they looked just right to me. (Unlike the other 8 or 10 pairs of tin snips). Ray found a couple of good tape measures— one for himself and one for grandson Marco, who is fascinated with measuring things. I felt a little guilty about such small purchases. It's going to take another thousand customers like us to make a dent in that mess of stuff.

It was lunch time, so we drove into Hillsboro to Ochoas, which tastes and looks and feels and sounds just like being in Mexico.

I always get the same thing—posole. It is a big serving and incredibly delicious. I've never been able to finish an entire bowl.

We moved on, further west to a pretty farm near Forest Grove.


In contrast to the other sale, this one was tidy and domestic in nature and clearly mostly the belongings of an industrious, home-loving woman. Lots of dishes and books, fabric and yarn, all carefully kept in ziplock bags. Sewing supplies stored in baskets and a knitting machine with full documentation.

I was charmed by the old Maytag wringer washer, but little else, in spite of obvious similar interests. In the end I brought home a bag containing yarn and a half-knitted sweater. It is yarn I would have chosen myself— soft, nubby cotton in my favorite soft aqua color. It saddens me that she never finished her sweater. Perhaps I will knit a soft shawl or wrap from the yarn. I can imagine that. Ray, who used to enjoy playing cribbage with his mom, came away with a well-used cribbage board. A pretty good day. The rain was over and done by the time we got home.

I wonder what the "stuff" I leave behind when I'm gone will say about me. There is something uncomfortably intimate about estate sales, especially seeing strangers pawing through the linens and contents of bathroom cabinets, and yet I feel something about the connectedness of people when their things move on to new lives with new people—and a small hope that someday the things I now use and love, will do the same.

Anyone want first dibs on my scissor collection??


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

June arrived in a heatwave

Last week we took a short trip to Southern Oregon for the opening of "Concrete and Grasslands" at the Grants Pass Museum of Art. It is the newest exhibit from SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associares) and includes SAQA artists from around the world. I was lucky enough to have a piece juried into the show. We took the opportunity to spend a couple days in Medford, with our dear friend, Muriel, and spent a day in Ashland, our old hometown, including a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where I once worked.

Photo from The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The play was The River Bride and it was beautifully designed and very charming. We loved it.

The day we drove to Grants Pass was a sweltering 100 degrees for the opening. The show was beautiful, well-attended and a real high for me, but OH! the heat was overwhelming.

That's my piece, Camas Prairie Idaho, on the brick wall. Above, a favorite by K.Velis Turan.

The Grants Pass Museum is in a wonderful old downtown building and the show is worth seeing if you are in the area.

Home now, it has been so unusually hot that it's hard to be motivated, but I have deadlines and work to get ready for shows. I will have some small pieces in a gallery in Sisters, Oregon next month, and one of the other artists offered to deliver my work with hers, so I spent today doing little finishing touches. All the pieces are either framed or mounted on stretched canvas panels, so they needed hanging wires. Picture wire always has such vicious, poke-y bits, but I discovered a trick for dealing with the problem. There is a product made for electrical work that is plastic tubing that will seal up the sharp ends of twisted wire.

I cut a short piece and threaded the wire through it before twisting onto the screw eyes on the back of one of my little pieces.

Then, when the wire was completely attached, I slid the little tube to cover the raw ends.

The final step is to heat the tubing with a heat gun and it will shrink tight around the wire. No sharp bits!

Here's a larger piece with a twist on each side. I slip a little scrap of cardboard under the wire when I'm using the heat gun so I don't scorch the back of my work.

I also neatened backs with taped edges, added labels and wrapped each piece for delivery. Fiddly stuff that must be done. At the end of the day it was packed and ready to go. It all fit perfectly into this Eddie Bauer tote!

It is supposed to be cooler tomorrow. More like Oregon is supposed to be.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

It's been one of those weeks...

...when you feel like the universe is just messing with you for its own amusement. Nothing tragic, just one dumb thing after another. It started with the microwave, which decided to run the fan and light continuously whenever the door was closed. Ray fiddled and researched it to no avail and finally called about a repair person. Fixing would cost as much as a new one. In the course of unplugging it he knocked a bottle of olive oil onto the tile floor, sending oil and broken glass everywhere. A speeding ticket (Ray) arrived in the mail—the kind they send you with a picture of you in your car, exceeding the speed limit. Not even a flattering photo. The next morning I lost an earring down the bathroom sink drain. Ray recovered it from the trap after pulling all the stuff out from under the sink and taking the pipe apart. We shopped for a new microwave. Of course the model we had was discontinued and the new one will require new mounting hardware and new holes drilled through cupboard walls. I sewed through my finger with my sewing machine. Lots of blood and cursing. It is healing. The wifi quit working in the studio and Ray, who never throws out a manual, can't find the one for the range extender router thingie. Of course tech support isn't available on the weekend, which is always when you need them.

The week ended well with beautiful weather and my grandchildren who spent the night last night. Things were looking up. I planned a craft project for the kids that turned out so well I thought I'd share it. We made a string of little fabric flags for the garden. I traced the triangular shapes on fabric and painted over the cutting lines with diluted acrylic medium to seal the edges, then cut out a pile of then. Some were bright prints and some solids, which the kids decorated with fabric markers.

We folded over the top edge and hand-sewed with perle cotton, leaving space to run a cord through later.

I found a package of what is called parachute cord—nice sturdy nylon—at the fabric store. 16 feet turned out to be just right. We threaded the cord through the flags to make a long string of them. I found that running the end of the cord into a plastic straw made stringing the flags quite easy. I sewed one stitch through the cord and straw, with a piece of the perle cotton, to keep the straw in place.

I laid it out on the ground and sprayed the flags with clear acrylic to make them at least somewhat water-resistant.

This morning Ray cut a couple long bamboo sticks for the flags. Done!


The kids went home with their string of flags and poles and Andy and Ray just fitted the new microwave into the re-jiggered space. Now we are almost ready for a new week. I wonder what is in store for us this week...


Monday, May 23, 2016

Papier Mache

I've been thinking about Papier Mache— you know, that crafty thing you did as a kid, to make masks or the bust of Abraham Lincoln or a lopsided little bowl to give your mother for Mothers' Day to keep her rings in. A very messy, get-your-hands-gooshy activity that I loved. I had a yen to do it again. The last time I was at Powells, this used book, priced at $3.95 sort leapt off a shelf at me.

It was a sign.

I decided I needed (needed!) to make one of those cool yarn bowls with the side yarn guide to hold my knitting. A trip to the dollar store yielded a plastic flower pot that could work as a form and I found, online, a good recipe for the paste needed to make it happen. Gooshiness!

I tore up strips and bits of newsprint and started covering the outside of my pot with paper, well-gooped with paste, until I had a couple layers, then left it to dry overnight.

I thought the plastic pot form would slip right out when the paper dried, but it didn't. (Maybe I should have greased the pot...) So I cut through it with an exacto knife and pulled it off. After trimming the top and bottom edges evenly, I patched the cut side.

I drew my yarn guide on the side and cut it, and glued a circle of foam board in the the bottom of the bowl.

Then I covered it all, inside and out with a couple more layers of pasted paper, smoothing it out and really saturating it all with the paste, and set it outside in the sun to dry well.

I left it for several days to dry and harden. I sanded it lightly, then painted it inside and out with gesso. When that was dry I drew my design for painting it with acrylic paints.

I painted about 3 coats of acrylic to get good, solid coverage, then sealed it all with acrylic medium.

Here's my finished yarn bowl. It was about a weeklong project with all the layers and drying between. Pretty labor-intensive for what it was, but fun and satisfying.

Now, back to my "real" work!