Monday, November 30, 2009


I have been making a pink quilt. It is for the next 12 x 12 challenge, which will be revealed on December 12. (12-12—we couldn't resist) This is the first of our second round of 12 sets of 12 quilts. This set will all revolve around color and the first challenge is pink.

I really don't like pink much. In general pink carries a lot of cultural baggage that makes it hard for me to like it. The girl=pink, boy=blue thing for one thing. Pink has become this flag of girliness that I just find a little distasteful. I am not very fond of pastel colors in general anyway, so pale pinks feel very weak and wispy to me. The image above is small detail of the piece that I finished today. You can see from this that I did not go for a pale, wispy sort of pink. You can also see that I added in a lot of other colors to keep the sweetness factor in check.

Here's another detail, showing one of the pink fabrics I actually really like. This dotty print, designed by Kaffe Fassett, is a favorite fabric. I own it in several color ways and the pink one worked quite well for this project, though it is not my favorite color way. I used my favorite in another of the 12 x 12 quilts here. I am hoarding what I have left as it doesn't seem to be available anymore.

Can you even begin to guess what the subject of this piece is from the teeny glimpses here? Probably not. It is a little off the wall—based on another piece I once did and a dream.

I like the finished piece. It is pretty darn pink. It has not won me over to the idea of making a lot of pink work, but I might find some uses for pink. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the group did. Will I hate all that pink? I hope not.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes

Found this cruising through blogs tonight. Enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A day like this . . .

Yesterday it rained all day, which was really quite all right, because I was inside cooking, setting the table, lighting candles, doing the Thanksgiving thing. The rain outside made the fire in the fireplace seem all the cozier. I didn't leave the house all day. It was a rainy, rainy, rainy day. Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

A day like this makes you thankful all over again. A day like this lifts your spirits and makes you want to turn on the radio and sing along. A day like this makes you notice how dirty your windows are!

Team window cleaning.

A day like this is a good day to throw on a sweatshirt and go out and walk around the yard. I uncovered the mosaic, which has been curing under a tarp. Sofia asked, "can I stand on it?" Sure, why not?

The paving stones are in a stack behind Sofia. You can see several that are laying next to the mosaic to get a feel for how well they will work. Unless we get a long stretch of dry weather before then, they will wait to be layed next spring. I am imagining a couple of comfy chairs there next summer, under the big tree. I am imagining ice tea or lemonade. A day like this makes you think about these things.

Sofia and I walked across the creek and around the yard. We were looking for that salamander that we saw jump off the bridge and into the creek the other day. We didn't see him, but we saw other things.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting ready

I started getting ready for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. I make the cranberry salad the day before so it sets. I have made this every year. Just like my Mom did. I'm pretty sure my sister is making it today too.

It is so pretty and so fresh and tart—really delicious. And we always hope for leftovers because it goes so well with a turkey sandwich the next day. I posted the recipe here, four years ago.

The rest of the cooking happens tomorrow. The leaves are in the table and tonight I spread the festive tablecloth from Ecuador on the table. I love to set the table for Thanksgiving. It gets me in the mood.

I am thankful for so many things—my family, my friends most of all. Thankful that my daughter is a great pie maker and is making so much of the Thanksgiving dinner. Thankful that my children and grandchild will be sitting at my table tomorrow. Thankful for the beautiful weather we've had this week. Thankful for the many gifts of friendship and opportunity the internet and this blog have given me. Thankful that I will be seeing old friends that I shared a memorable Thanksgiving with many years ago.

Earlier today my daughter posted this video on Facebook. It is the amazing Mercedes Sosa, who died last month, singing Thank you to Life. My Spanish is not good enough to understand all the words, but the beauty of the music expresses a feeling of gratitude that I connected with. I hope you will enjoy it, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meeting the Eyeball guy

Well, really IBOL Guy. (But isn't that pronounced "eyeball"? I think it is.) IBOL stands for Iraqi Bundles of Love. In a nutshell, Art LaFlamme, an Army officer and husband of one of my fellow Twelve by Twelves, created a great project designed to get sewers and quilters to send bundles of sewing supplies and fabrics to him to be distributed to Iraqi women. It was successful beyond all expectation. Read all about it here.

Art is now back from Iraq. Home is Hawaii, but the family is in Oregon for Thanksgiving and Gerrie and I met them at Starbuck's this afternoon. Aren't they a beautiful pair? And good people.

Here are Kristin, Gerrie and me. It is always an occasion when any of the "Twelves" get together. This was the second time I had met Kristin. The last time was nearly two years ago, just after our Twelve by Twelve project started. So much has happened since then with that wonderful project. Today we each shared our first twelve quilts, the ones that will be in our book. Can I say that again? Our book. Amazing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

39 years ago

Remember when weddings were covered as stories in the newspaper? Printed in the Society section of the paper with a full-length photo of the bride. Maybe this is still done in some places, but I think for the most part this custom has gone by the wayside.

There was a small problem with this story about my wedding. Throughout the story, including in the headline, the groom was named as Roy Grant. I married Ray Grant. And there really is a Roy Grant—Ray's twin brother. It was funny and embarrassing and maybe a little bit horrifying to see that in print—not that there is a single thing wrong with Roy. He's a wonderful, lovely man, but he's my brother-in-law, not my husband. Oddly enough the story correctly identifies Roy Grant as the best man and twin brother of the groom.

My mother insisted that the Idaho State Journal reprint the story with Ray's name and they did. That's the version that is glued in my wedding album, but I found that my Mom had kept this one when I went through her things after she died.

Sometime around that same time there was another wedding story in the paper with a photo of a bride in a very large-skirted wedding gown. Printed directly on the opposite side of the page was a photo of a college wrestler ready for a bout. The hairy legs, tight little trunks, and laceup boots of the wrestler were clearly visible through the white skirt of the bride, even more so if you held the paper up to the light. The alignment was perfect and totally hilarious. That would have been worse than getting the groom's name wrong. I think people all over Pocatello had that one posted on their refrigerators for a long time—I know we did, until it disintegrated. I wish I had kept it.

We had a good anniversary—we took the MAX to downtown Portland and saw a movie and went to dinner. Then we came home and had a little champagne. Cheers! Here's to 39 more.

P.S. I can't not mention that headline, wrong name or right. "Teresa Ann Howard Becomes Mrs. Roy/Ray Grant"—?? This was 1970—things like this were becoming touchy subjects. I have never liked, nor have I ever used the name Mrs. Ray Grant. When I got married I became Teresa (or Terry) Howard Grant. (no Mrs., Ms., or Miss) And that is who I am.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Very Important Announcement!

The Twelve by Twelve artists are excited twelve times over to announce that:

(drum roll, please.... )

Sterling Publications/Lark Books will be publishing a book on our Twelve by Twelve Collaborative Art Quilt project!

We are thrilled beyond words to have this wonderful opportunity, and so happy that our art endeavors and friendships are turning us into authors, too. We know that Lark was impressed by the loyal folks who follow our blogs and website, so thanks to all of you friends-of-Twelves for your encouraging words through our explorations!

We'll keep you posted as we know publication dates.

We are lifting a virtual glass of champagne to each other and to all of you for your support!

And, on a personal note—my thanks to Diane, Gerrie, Brenda, Deborah, Kristin, Kirsten, Helen, Francoise, Terri, Karen, and Nikki for making this such a grand adventure. Couldn't ask for better partners!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art Every Day, Day 19

From this

to this

Here is the final chapter in the reworking of the Crow saga. A whole new background. Even before I tried the crow over the Mt. Hood and other quilts, it seemed to me that what the old background lacked was a sense of space and depth. I have been walking along the pond and noticing the tall grass and cattails and the crows fluttering around, so it seemed that a wetland scene beyond the arched opening would be fitting for the background. It really does seem to me that this new background also pulls you into the scene and makes that surrounding blue checkerboard border seem not so heavy and overpowering. It feels like a vast improvement to me. I am now looking at some of my other older pieces and wondering how they might be improved.

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This morning on our walk we saw a large evergreen tree that had fallen over the fence from someone's yard. The trunk had splintered. Scary sight, but thankfully it had not fallen on the house, but rather over the back fence onto the park land. The top of the tree which was laying near the path was filled with beautiful, long, narrow cones. I can never resist beautiful evergreen cones. (Just ask Ray—he's rolling his eyes as he reads this) So I brought a few home with me. They were covered with sticky pitch though and I was pretty sure I had ruined my gloves. Years ago someone told me how to take care of pitch on big cones, so I brought them home and put them on a newspaper covered cookie sheet and stuck it in the oven at about 300 degrees for about 10 minutes. The pitch melts and drips onto the newspaper. I took them out of the oven and transferred them to wax paper to cool.

The neat part of this treatment is that when the pitch melts it turns clear and shiny and hardens, so the cones look almost like they have been varnished.

Aren't they pretty? And my house smells like a pine forest.

And, by the way, my gloves— I have some spray stuff called De-solv-it that took the pitch off my hands, so I put the gloves on, sprayed all the pitch with the spray stuff, then washed with dishwashing detergent. I think they will survive.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Talent: practice, opportunity, interest?

Yesterday my granddaughter spent the day here and I decided she needed some new form of entertainment. We have read the same books hundreds of times (and will read them hundreds more I am sure) done the same puzzles, watched Sesame Street, dressed and undressed Judy the doll, over and over and over. I wasn't sure she would be interested or ready for something a little challenging, but on a hunch I got out a bag of wooden beads and stiffened the end of a piece of cotton string with tape and got her started stringing beads. She needed very little help or instruction. Perhaps she has done this before. I was interested in her concentration, the way she picked out all the red beads from the mixed assortment and her patience for the task.
I remember doing things like this as a child. Learning to use my hands for detailed work. I learned to embroider and weave potholders. I spent countless hours laying on my stomach on the livingroom floor drawing. I think it has so much to do with the things I do now and the relative degree of skill with which I am able to do them.
I recently read the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. A fascinating book that deals with patterns in the lives of people who are high achievers—they are not what you might expect. And I found support for things I have long suspected. Is talent something you are born with, or something you develop? Gladwell says,

"The question is this: is there such a thing as innate talent? The obvious answer is yes. Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role of preparation seems to play."

He goes on to talk about the 10,000 hour rule that says that you achieve mastery of something by practicing it for 10,000 hours. That includes a musical instrument, a sport, a thorough knowledge of a subject. Opportunity plays a big part, of course. He talks about how Bill Gates went to a school, as a child, that had a program in computer programming at a time when it was such a new subject that no other schools had such programs. And then there is interest. Not everyone who went to that school achieved what Bill Gates did. He developed an early interest, had the opportunity and put in the hours of practice necessary to master his subject.

While I have clearly not mastered my skills in drawing, for example, I draw better than most people. I credit those childhood hours of drawing, and classes and years of practice, not that it is something I was born knowing how to do.

It pleases me to see that Sofia, at the age of 2.5 has sufficient interest to work at stringing beads. I am happy to offer her the opportunity to do it. If she continues to practice she will develop hand skills that will be useful throughout her life. But the most important thing is that she had fun and was excited to show her Mom her beads and we didn't have to read Clifford the Big Red Dog yet one more time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Art appreciation and update on the mosaic project

On Saturday's field trip to Mississippi Ave. we stopped into a store called Land. It is a wonderful little shop and gallery and features prints and cards by artist, Nikki McClure. I have admired her work for several years. She lives north of us in Olympia, WA and her work is all paper cuts. Having done a few papercuts myself, I can appreciate how wonderful she is! (Last December I showed papercut trees and a Scrooge image I cut from paper)

I bought a card with this image, and two others. I will probably put them in little frames to hang somewhere.

There is something about Nikki McClure's work that reminds me of Mary Azarian, a woodcut artist from Vermont, that I have loved for many years. My friend Muriel had a print of Mary Azarian's in her house 25 years ago that I still love. Here is an example of one of her prints.

The thing I so admire in both these artists is the economy of the design—so much expressed in black and white—and the expressiveness of their lines. I borrow liberally from this aesthetic and keep working on keeping things as simple, graphic and clean as I can.
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Yesterday afternoon I grouted the mosaic. It was hard work for an old lady, as it all had to be done on my hands and knees. I was achey and pooped last night. Earlier in the day we went to Lowe's to get the grout and decided to look at paving stones in the garden department just for ideas. We found the ones I liked the best—small, square and a little bit textured. I think they will lay in a circle really well. They were closing them out and had them at a very good price. Then we found out they had just reduced the price, again, to .05 each! Holy cow, that's cheap! We bought the entire pallet. Should be plenty for our patio project.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art Every Damned Day, Day 15

Can you tell I am getting a little tense about this "Art Every Day" thing? It was a good idea, in that I thought it might motivate me to get into the studio every day and get some things done. Oh, and I have! That is the good part. I really am having a good time with what I have been doing. The part that I am having a hard time with is the idea that in doing this thing that a lot of other bloggers are doing is that I feel I should be posting pictures of what I have done every day. This doesn't work so well for me.

I really am working on the Mt. Hood piece, and the reworked crow piece, but both are somewhat slow work and it just isn't interesting to post a photo everyday with minimal visible change to the piece. I like showing the beginnings of a project, then the drama of the finished piece when that happens. So be assured that I am working away on these things and you will see them all in good time. The alternative seems to be to either make crazy deals with myself ("let's see, if I sprinkle raisins on my morning cereal in a pattern, and take a picture of it, can I call that art??") or throw together some little thingie at the end of the day to post.

That said, here is my artful offering for today.

Now, honestly, this is pretty exciting! I have been working on this mosaic on a plywood table in the garage for a couple of months off and on and wondering all this time whether the whole thing was going to fall apart when we tried to transfer it from the table to the prepared concrete slab out in the yard. Success! We moved the table out to the yard and removed the legs from the table, so the mosaic was essentially just sitting on a round piece of plywood, waiting to slide into place once the mortar was spread.

I had glued the broken tile pieces to a mesh backing, which was actually that big hole canvas made for making rugs. The backing was pieced because I could not get a piece big enough for the whole circle. It would have been so much easier if it had all been one piece. We spread the mortar on the concrete, then I held the plywood with the mosaic over the mortared concrete and Ray carefully slid the mosaic off the tabletop into the mortar. It worked perfectly. The mortar needs to set for about a day, then I will grout the whole thing. That is why you see dark gray where the mortar has seeped up between the pieces in some areas, and the white edges of the tile pieces in other areas. Eventually this will be the bullseye center of a round paving stone/brick patio.

Some days I actually feel like I know what I'm doing, even if we're making it up as we go along.

North Mississippi Street

Long ago North Mississippi Street, in North Portland, was part of the thriving community of Albina, Oregon. Albina became part of Portland and as the years went by it got more and more grungy and rundown. When we moved to Portland in 1993 this part of town was crime-ridden, tawdry and not a place you wanted to find yourself in, especially at night. Over the past 10 or 12 years the area has once again become a thriving community, with many of the old houses and commercial buildings refurbished and finding new life as small shops and restaurants.

Today a group I am part of took a walking tour of N. Mississippi. We met at the Fresh Pot coffee shop, once a Rexall Drug store, then walked up and down, looking into the wonderful small shops along the way.

The Meadow is the shop I wrote about a couple weeks ago, that sells "artisan salt". I tasted some of the salts they sell. The hickory smoked salt was very smoky. The gray salt tasted like salt with a slight essence of dirt and the volcanic salt I tried was very sulphur-y. Ick. I was not won over to the charms of artisan salt, but I thought the slabs and bowls made from pinkish salt were interesting. They suggested cooking on the slabs and/or chilling the slabs or bowls for serving cheeses or dips, that would pick up a bit of salt flavor.

Many of the old buildings have been beautifully restored and painted wonderful clear, bright colors.

This shop sells all kinds of light bulbs.

I was really attracted to this display of blown glass Christmas ornaments that looked like big, shiny beetles. They were really quite beautiful, but hard to imagine on a Christmas tree.

Beautiful detail on the old buildings.

It was a crisp, white sky Portland day—no rain, but not much sun to speak of either. A good day for an outing. After our walk, we ended the tour at a lot full of food carts and picnic tables for lunch. My bowl of steaming, spicy pozole was delicious. I enjoyed being a tourist in my own city.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The birds in print

I created a pattern and 5 new birds for the special edition magazine called Quilt Festival Quilt Scene. This is a one-time publication of Quilting Arts magazine to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

I started seeing images of the cover online a couple months ago and was excited to see the birds in a little box on the cover.

The editor emailed that they had sent me a copy of the magazine a couple weeks ago, and I'm sure they sent it, but it has never arrived here. I've been looking in stores here and finally found a copy at Borders today. They had a bunch of them. Here's how the first pages of the article look in the magazine.

I love the photo of them lined up on the fence with the alpacas in the background. I just think the whole thing looks so good!

And there is a lot of other really great stuff in the magazine too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art Every Day, Day 11

I got a lot done today. I finished quilting the new background for the crow piece. I don't want to show it here until it is all put together.

What I do have to show is another doodle. I made doodles like crazy for awhile, but haven't done one for some time. This is not a favorite. I feel a little rusty, and my permanent pen is getting a little dried out, so it doesn't flow quite how it should. Don't you hate that? It feels wasteful to toss it out, but it is not a pleasure to use a pen that just isn't quite up to par.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

My 2.5 year old granddaughter is spending the day with me today. One of our rituals when she stays with me is watching Sesame Street together. We love Sesame Street and today was a very special day. Today's show, the first of the new season, celebrates Sesame Street's 40th birthday, with special guest Michelle Obama. Sofia and I were thrilled.

Sofia doesn't watch a lot of TV. Her parents don't think it's a good thing, nor do I. There is a lot of junk on TV, but I have never subscribed to the idea that it is all junk. Like any kind of media, including books, TV just delivers the goods—some junk, some pure art. It is up to us to make the choices of what we accept.

I used to watch Sesame Street with my own children and then missed it for many, many years until Sofia came along. A lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same. One of our favorite characters, Mr. Noodle, was new to me. He makes both Sofia and me laugh out loud.

He is played by the very gifted physical comic, Bill Irwin and is very funny to watch in his hilarious ineptitude. Irwin is a good serious actor as well. He played the father in the movie, Rachel Getting Married, which I loved.

My art for the day is courtesy of Sofia.

She loves to color. We discovered, awhile ago, that the internet is a great source for coloring images for kids, including a whole bunch at the Sesame Street site. She loves to pick out the picture she wants, then I print it for her to color. What I really love is that the picture only interests her briefly, (picking it out seems to be the best part) then she flips the paper over to the back where she creates her own compositions.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Art Every Day, Day 9

Well, my sister Becky is brilliant. (I knew that, but I forget.) In a comment on yesterday's post she said, "Could you just lay this quilt on top of your Mt. Hood quilt and snap a quick picture? Kind of a 'crow's eye view'."

What an idea!

That was so much fun that I tried it on another quilt.

She doesn't seem pleased with the crow in her garden, does she?

(see the whole quilt here)

And another. This one may be my favorite.

(see this whole quilt here)

None of these is the background that I am actually working on for this quilt, but this little exercise was both fun and enlightening. What I learned is:
  1. Boy, my color palette is sure predictable.
  2. Almost anything is a better background for the bird than what I had.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Oh no! Look what I've done . . .

Yes, I took my scissors and carefully cut the background right out of the bird piece. Yes, it was a little scary. And yes, gulp, I think it was the right thing to do. I told you I was considering something drastic.

The thing is that background was just not working. It didn't work as it was originally and then I painted it and turned it into moosh. Moosh is the thing I most dread. It is where what was supposed to be a delicate flow of color loses its way and becomes a blodgy, sloggy, muddy moosh of color. There is far too much moosh in the world of art quilts in my humble opinion.

Now I am working on a new background and I don't think it will have the words on it, but they live on in the irony of this piece. Its name is "Everything is transition." The words were, "The intention is to move as if everything is transition. As if nothing ends." It is a quote from a book I was reading when I made the piece originally. Maybe this will be a neverending piece. Maybe I will take it out every few years and redo some part of it. Probably not.

I do have a plan for the new background.