Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Continued . . .

So, after a couple more tweaks of the design, I came up with this.

I printed it and took it to the studio, where I started tracing the parts on fabric to be fused to a dark teal blue background.

This is the sample I made.

I don't love it. I think I need to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Design process

First off, thanks for the sympathy and comments about my falling and my dumb Crocs. I will not leave the house in them. I promise. They really are good for working in the kitchen or the studio where I am on my feet for long periods. I Googled "falling Crocs" and read horror story after horror story. I was lucky. Lots of really serious injuries resulting from one of two Croc properties. 1. They are extremely slick on damp or wet surfaces and 2. They "catch" on dry surfaces, bringing the forward moving wearer to an abrupt stop, which is, I think, what my problem has been. You have been warned. Wear them with caution.

I started some design work for a new piece today and thought I'd show some of the early process I often use, employing Adobe Illustrator.

I want to use a heart design as part of the whole piece and doodled some ideas on paper. This one seemed like it might have possibilities.

I opened a new file in Illustrator and started by drawing half of a heart shape.

The rectangle you see represents a letter-sized sheet of paper. I started drawing in the design lines in the half shape.

Then I copied all that and flipped it to create the other half of the heart so I could see how it looked.

It seemed a little wider than I think I want, so I selected the whole thing and pulled the shape a bit narrower. That changed some proportions a little strangely so I tweaked some of the lines. I made the lines bolder as well. I can see some further changes I need to make before it is where I want, but these are easy to do.

Illustrator is a great tool for creating drawings to work from.

To be continued...

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am blaming the Crocs

The plastic shoes we love to hate. A couple of days ago I ventured out, wearing my Crocs, and I caught the toe of one on the edge of the curb and, once again, fell flat on the sidewalk. I did the same thing last spring, also wearing the stupid Crocs.

Last time it was as I was going into the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Everyone ignored me, even walked around me, while I struggled to right myself. The most recent splat occurred in front of the Aloha Tuesday Morning Store and two employees ran right out, helped me up and got me a chair to sit in for a few minutes. One even brought me a paper towel and container of hand sanitizer to clean my hands off. I was shaken and had hit my knees and hands hard. And, of course, I felt like a feeble, mortified old lady. What I didn't realize until I got up and started moving around was that my most painful injury was to a rib. I think I either cracked it or vigorously pulled a muscle. Very painful still. It is hard to sleep, impossible to pick up my grandchild and just hurts. It makes me crabby. Coughing hurts a lot. Sneezing? Holy Mother of Pearl, that hurts!

I bought those Crocs to wear in the house and studio, not out anywhere, and yet, I continue to run around town in them. Stupid clown shoes. I think they are just too fat and puffy to know where your feet are. I first saw Crocs years ago being worn by quilters. They are even sold at quilt shows. They are comfortable, but we all know that quilters wear the damnedest things!

Now I am chastened and vow never to wear them out of the house again. Maybe Manolo was right.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The party and the greenhouse

My pictures of our Open House turned out terrible for the most part. I was distracted by being a hostess and did not do such a good job as a photographer. Here is a crowd scene, early on.

My granddaughter decided my stool was the perfect place to perch and watch the goings on. She got to visit with everyone who came by to fill a plate. We had a nice turnout and saw lots of friends. I especially enjoyed meeting and talking to some of our neighbors.

We hung three of Cayo, my son-in-law's, paintings on the stairway. He got a lot of compliments, both on his paintings and on the studio design.

Here are Cayo and baby Marco on the porch. Cayo did such a great job as our architect!

Down at the other end of the porch is the entrance to the greenhouse.

As you can see, Ray has started filling it with plants. Some he has purchased, many he has propagated from other plants. I didn't get any good pictures in the greenhouse yesterday, but I went in today and got a couple. Ray is still doing some painting and finish work inside, but is using the greenhouse.

He has a sink, work table and storage at one end. His tools and plants fill the rest of the space.

The vent at the top of this picture fascinates me. It opens when the temperature reaches a certain temperature and closes again when the temperature drops to a certain temperature. It uses no power, not even solar power. It works by means of expansion and contraction of a chemical in the mechanism.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It may never look this good again!

I have been making the studio spiffy and polished. Tomorrow we are having an Open House to show off the new studio and greenhouse and kick off the holiday season. I needed this deadline to get a lot of things finished.

Here is the wall where my stash and art supplies are stored. The fabric ended up being more than the tubs could hold, so I added shelves above. I love having all my tools and art supplies handy, but behind the closed doors of the two big cupboards.

We moved my cutting table out and I made a curtain to cover the open shelves under the table. I loved this IKEA decorator fabric, but it is goofy stuff. There is no possible way to match the pattern when using two lengths. I lined up the repeat—best I could do.

I have had the treadle sewing machine since I was about 10 years old. I learned to sew on it and have carried around through every move we've made. It still works and assures that I can sew if the power fails. It has been stored in the garage for the past three years. I got a nice surprise when I opened one of the drawers.

I'm rich!

I wanted our guests to see some of my work, so I have hung a lot of my quilts around the studio. The design wall was a great spot for a bunch of small work.

Even the bathroom has gotten some attention. The laundry sink has a small water heater and metal pan under it, which is kind of an eyesore. I made a little skirt to cover it.

For years I have been saving postcards—the kind you buy in art museums, or pick up in galleries, or send out for shows or get for other people's shows. I have started sticking them to the bathroom wall. This is just the beginning. I need to remember where I have been saving them!

The Ecuadorean roof crosses ended up over the bathroom door.

My son-in-law, as the designer of the building, is an honored guest. He is hanging several of his paintings too.

I hope to see a lot of friends tomorrow! It will actually probably be the first time some have seen my work. It will be nice to show them what I actually do. It's sometimes hard to explain.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank you to Life


Thank you to life, which has given me so much. 
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened, 
Can perfectly distinguish black from white 
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,  
And from within the multitude
The one that I love. 

Thank you to life, which has given me so much. 
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries, 
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thank you to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare: 
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and the light shining.  
The route of the soul from which comes love.  

Thank you to life, which has given me so much. 
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet. 
With them I have traversed cities and puddles  
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains. 
And your house, your street and your patio. 

Thank you to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human brain, 
When I see good so far from bad, 
When I see within the clarity of your eyes…

Thank you to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing. 
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—  
The two materials from which my songs are formed, 
And your song, as well, which is the same song.  
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

My daughter introduced us to this beautiful song and the glorious Mercedes Sosa. It seems the perfect song for Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for the life I have and the friends and family that I have been given. They are a gift I am thankful for every day.

Wishing you all a perfect day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do turkeys have eyelashes?

According to my granddaughter, Sofia, everything that has eyes has eyelashes. She is probably right.

Together, today, we made this turkey to decorate our Thanksgiving table. Design concept by Grandma, execution by Sofia.

As a kid I so loved making stuff and things that could be appreciated by the whole family were the best. I think I generally had a hand in the decorating of the Thanksgiving table. At age four one can hardly make a pie or mash potatoes, but in families, like ours, where the crafty gene runs strong, even the little guys can contribute to the feast.

I hope you all have a handmade turkey on your table.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How to have a long, happy marriage

I wish I knew the answer to that. Today is our 41st anniversary and when I posted on Facebook this morning I got a lot of comments commending us on our "accomplishment"—as if we did something special to be married so long. It is rare, I know, but I think of a long marriage to the same person as more a matter of great good luck, than something accomplished.

Here we are leaving the church amid a hail of rice being thrown at us by our friends and family. I don't know if this is done so much anymore. There seem to be various explanations for this old custom, but maybe it was just symbolic of all the things that might be thrown our way, good and bad, over the years ahead.

I have so many friends whose marriages have not survived and I often wonder why we made it work when others haven't. I always come back to luck. Marry the right person. That's an easy answer, but I think most of us know that most people who marry think that is exactly what they have done. I do remember laying in the dark, next to my new husband, suddenly realizing that I didn't really know him. "What have I done?" I wondered. I suppose he felt the same. We didn't share that anxiety with each other, but instead just moved forward, together, through all these years. We usually knew what we wanted and we worked for it. We learned to like many of the same things. I taught him about art. He taught me about jazz. We discovered foreign movies and travel. We had great children and enjoyed them as they grew and when there were problems we usually agreed about how to go about dealing with them. Did we work at this? I suppose we did, but really mostly we were lucky that we seemed to be on the same path and valued the same things.

That chilly November day was a happy and terrifying day. Today was, in many ways, a better, though definitely a simpler day. Now I know for sure that I wasn't making a mistake. I was lucky then and lucky now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Immersed in color

I think I said this before, but this fall has been the most colorful, most beautiful that I remember. And it has gone on and on. I can't seem to get enough of the color.

This morning I drove into the city. Highway 26 goes past Beaverton and into a small canyon at the end of which you drive through a tunnel and suddenly the city of Portland is laid out in front of you as you emerge from the tunnel. It is always a pretty dramatic sight. Today it was raining and the heavily wooded canyon was throbbing with color. My quick phone photo doesn't do it justice.

Today's rain and cold were bringing the leaves down in showers. I know they are finally on their way out.

The sun came out this afternoon and I enjoyed clear, crisp color views from the studio windows.

And along the path to the house.

I am still moving things to the studio, putting them away as I go. I am feeling very "nesty" about getting the studio all put together. I remember telling Jane Davila, last summer, that I just wanted it to be utilitarian. It needed to be a good work space, not necessarily a decorated space. She was getting a new studio together in Connecticut at the time and said she kept fussing over things looking right. She didn't like mismatched furnishings and oddball containers. Yes, Jane, now I get it. I had a small crisis today over curtain rings.

As much as I want to get it all looking and feeling right, I am getting antsy to get back to real work. The Twelve by Twelve group is starting out on a new round of challenges, with some new twists and I am pondering, pondering and itching to start flinging fabric. I posted some thoughts on the new challenge on the 12 x 12 blog today. You can read them here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


In cleaning out the old workroom and moving stuff to the studio I am getting down to those things I am not sure what to do with. I think there is plenty I can toss, some I can donate, but still quite a lot of stuff that I am unsure of. I have this flannel board where I have been sticking pieces and parts that I have made for various pieces and then changed my mind about. They seem usable, but for what? I think of it as the "boneyard" which is where leftover materials go that might be used again later.

It might be a funny kind of challenge to see if I could use all of these pieces together in one piece. Or, maybe not. Those hearts on the right—I had this idea months ago that I would use scraps from the work I was doing and make a gagillion little heart pieces and, come Valentine's Day, I would surreptitiously leave them about out in public, for people to find. As you can see I have made four so far. Maybe some Valentine's Day this will happen. Or maybe not. What would you do? Throw all this stuff away? It didn't work for what it was originally intended, but it seems a shame to toss it.

I end up with leftovers on my camera as well. I take a bunch of pictures, mostly for use on the blog, but I don't use them all. A lot I just erase, but there are always a few that I like and they hang around for awhile, then I erase them. Here are a couple from the past couple of weeks that I saved. I opened them up today and fiddled with filters in Photoshop to see what I could make of them. I actually like the look. A bit like old woodblock prints.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oregon quilts

I got some nice news today. The two pieces I submitted to the Oregon SAQA show, Oregon: State of Diversity, were accepted. I know I showed some of the progress on the first one, Women of the Oregon Trail, but I don't think I ever showed the finished piece.

The women represent the Native Americans who lived in the Oregon Territory, the generations of immigrant woman who came by wagon and the slaves and later, former slaves who came. The quilt pattern in the background is the traditional block called, "Oregon Trail." The words stitched in the background read: Oregon Trail - 1841-1869," "400,000 men, women and children," and "Missouri to Oregon - 2,000 miles."

The second quilt was actually made for the High Fiber Diet Bird's Eye View show, but it fits nicely into the SAQA theme. "Mt. Hood from the Air."

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We had lunch at Costco today. Once or twice a year I eat a hot dog and it is always at Costco. They are very good hot dogs. And I don't even like hot dogs.

At the next table a young man sat with his hot dog in front of him. He had his head bowed, eyes lowered and hands folded in his lap. His lips moved silently. "He is praying," I thought to myself. I am always startled to see people saying grace over their food in public places. Then he brought his hands up from his lap, to the table and I saw that he had his phone cradled in both hands. He was playing Angry Birds, not praying. Shoulda' known.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday stuff

First, before I get to anything else, if you want to see the best pictures of the Twelve by Twelve adventure in Houston, go to Diane Perin Hock's blog. She has put together a slide show that are all the pictures I wish I had taken. Look at her slideshow and then I won't show you another picture of Houston!

I worked on a couple of studio projects today. I have been thinking and thinking about how I was going to create a design wall. I have looked at a lot of things other artists have done and honestly haven't loved most of them. A common material for design wall are big 4' x 8' foam insulation panels. Usually these are covered with felt or flannel and either attached to the wall or just leaned against a wall. Ugh. The thought of hauling home one of these monster things and covering it was just too hard to contemplate. Some people just hang a flannel sheet or a big piece of felt on the wall. Always looks so floppy to me. I decided today to try using foamboard— like is used for crafts or signs. I bought 12 of them at the dollar store. The dollar store foam board is not as nice as the more expensive, but I was going to cover them with flannel anyway. I glued two together for each panel, to provide a little deeper surface to pin to, then covered them with white flannel and screwed the 6 resulting panels to the wall.

Since I already had a bolt of flannel all I bought was the foam board and screws, so my biggest investment in this is my time. I think it will work for my purposes. It is 60" square, far larger than most of the quilts I make, but if I decide to start working big I can easily add more panels. This will allow me to stand back and get some distance and perspective as I am working. I can't tell you what a luxury that will be.You can see in the bottom right panel that I had to cut a hole for the light switch.

Then I hung my collection of old scissors above the window. I love old scissors. Such a simple, graphic tool. I have been buying them at yard sales and second hand stores for years. Most are pretty ordinary, but some are old and quite charming in design. I got them all hung up and wondered if they seem a little threatening!

Still fighting a cold, and I wore myself out with all this handy-womaning.

My new solar lights illuminate the path back to the house.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And so it goes...

So the big adventure is over and I am home with a bad cold. It has taken me since Sunday night to really be here. I have been slow to unpack and tell my stories. I have let the experiences of Houston settle in and circle a bit before I have felt ready to hustle back into the here and now. Today I was home alone and, feeling a bit better, so I put things away and worked for awhile at moving more stuff to the studio. It was a beautiful day. I have had the feeling this fall has been better than average and a news story confirmed that the leaves are hanging on later and because of some magical formula of rain and sun and sugars in the leaves, they really are brighter and more varied than usual.

Late in the afternoon I ran out to do some errands and by the time I got home it was getting dark. We switched back to whatever not daylight savings time is and boy is it noticeable around 5 in the afternoon. The moon rising was incredible—very large and quite orange. The photo doesn't do it justice.

As I approached our house I could see that Ray was home because the greenhouse was glowing. I hadn't seen it lighted, at night, before. Kind of spooky and mysterious.

One of the things I had gone out to buy were some solar outdoor lights to light the path from the studio to the house.  I noticed yesterday how dark it was when I came in. I am in love with solar lights.

I put away the purchases I made in Houston today. I bought surprisingly little. It made no sense to buy anything that I had seen in local shops. I really liked some of the "gadgets" and bought myself a soapstone marker that makes a nice line on dark fabrics, a bit like chalk, but more stable and still you can easily remove it when you need to. I remember my Dad always had a soapstone in his pocket. I think he marked steel with it. I also bought a little disk that clips to your clothing with a cable that you can attach to a pair of small scissors. The cable reels into the disk like a tape measure. I am always losing my scissors down in the couch cushions. Maybe this will help. I also bought some gadgets as gifts for my STASH friends, so I won't show you those until I give them to them.

I bought a few pieces of fabric. I always like dots and swirls, especially if they are orange or red.

My favorite fabric purchases were from Marcia Derse. Her fabrics are so wonderful. She used to sell her original hand-dyed and painted fabrics, but now they are being reproduced and selling at a normal, commercial fabric price. What a find. I can't wait to use some of these.

They not only make me want to sew, they make me want to paint fabric. I have a couple of things on the horizon and the Twelve by Twelves are just about ready to announce our new round of challenges. I am inspired and ready to go.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

And there was more . . .

The Quilt Festival in Houston, was not all about the Twelve by Twelve exhibit, though if you've been reading the Twelves' blogs you probably wouldn't know that!  There was the huge judged show and many, many special exhibits. I tried to get around to see as much as I could. I did not take a lot of photos. Many of the special exhibits did not allow photography (our Twelve by Twelve exhibit did). The big prize winners were lined up at the front of the hall and you can see photos of them here. The very big winners are a type of quilt that seem to exist only for the purpose of winning prizes at quilt shows and they are a curiosity to me. They are bed-sized, but clearly not destined to ever grace a bed. They are technically amazing with quilting that is hard to imagine. The best of show and others of the top winners are heavily embellished with crystals, which is not apparent from the web site photos, but in person, they are incredibly sparkly. Are they art? Hard to say. Not what I think of as art quilts. I wonder what becomes of them after the show is over.

One of my favorite pieces in the judged show (not a winner) was this piece, called "Metamorphoses" by Gabriell Paquin of Orleans, France.

It was made entirely using woven plaid and stripe fabrics and I loved its crisp, graphic, un-fussy design.

In one of the special exhibits of Canadian quilters I was tickled to find two pieces from Pamela Allen, one of my favorite art quilters.

"A Very Stingy Tooth Fairy" is about a traumatic dental procedure.

This one is called "Bugs and Other Living Things."

Pamela's humor and love of pattern make her work so joyful! Here's a detail from this bug quilt that I adored.

Another really delightful exhibit was artist's fabric houses, curated by Kathy York. The artists were listed with the exhibit, but there was no key to which houses were made by which artist. Gerrie and I tried to guess.

Some favorites:

I had a piece in one of the other special exhibits that did not allow photography. "The Space Between" was curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison, known collectively as the Dinner at Eight Artists. They organized a dinner (at eight of course) for all the participating artists who were in Houston. Great fun to meet so many of them—some I knew online for years and some new to me. Excellent food, great conversation and a bit of silliness! As we were leaving we discovered that Michael Moore had been dining just a few tables away. I will leave you with this photo.

No, I was not drunk. Just participating in the Dinner at Eight spoon-balancing-on-nose ritual.  Honestly. Did I really do that?