Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guest artist in the studio

Today my granddaughter, Sofia, joined me in the studio. She and her brother spend two days each week with us and Sofia spends a great amount of time drawing and cutting and coloring. Today, after she had nearly depleted the supply of paper in the printer tray, I decided it was time to introduce her to the big roll of paper in the studio.

Her first effort was this girl with a big head and a very small body. She gave it to me and I immediately hung it in the studio.  She followed with a drawing of her house and family plus a"gross witch" sitting on the roof and dropping worms down the chimney. Great stuff. Then she said the magic words—"can I have some fabric?" She designed and cut and I fused per her directions. The first piece was a rug for her doll house.

She completed several nice additions to the doll house, including rugs, a blanket and two pillows stuffed with Kleenex.


Last month a young man was shot to death right here on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store where I shop. He was young and the alleged shooter was the father of his estranged girlfriend. There was, apparently, a custody battle going on between the victim and the shooter's daughter over their 3-year-old son. Horrible. Stupid. Tragic.

This evening, as I once again skirted around this growing assemblage of wilting flowers and cheap candles, I wondered why this kind of thing has become the accepted form of mourning a public death. Does this really comfort anyone? I really do wonder. My neighbor works at this store and I can't help but think that this display is a constant reminder to her and her coworkers of a horrible and frightening afternoon. I see most shoppers avoiding it as best they can as they manipulate shopping carts from the nearby supply near the front door. The Girl Scouts are selling cookies from their card table setup a few yards away.The adjacent soda machine isn't attracting much business.

I don't doubt that those who left these flowers and trinkets, including a ceramic angel,were sincere in their desire to remember a friend or neighbor, but I find it hard to imagine how this helps. There is something especially sad, to me, about the the dirty, stained sidewalk, the forlorn flowers and the triteness of the effort.

If I am ever gunned down in front of the grocery store, please don't do this for me. Instead, send a donation to the Food Bank, send a note to my family and hug somebody you love.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday stuff

Here's a little piece (7" square) that I made today for a friend whose heart has kind of taken some battering this past month.

My rubber stamp,impulsively purchased online in the throes of rubber stamp intoxication, arrived today.

I like it. It is about an inch and three quarters tall. It is my personal icon. Besides collecting old scissors, I like scissor-y things. I have several pins that are scissor designs, including these two.

That bottom one is a hoot, isn't it? Found at a crafts sale. I lost it for a long time and just found it pinned to a coat collar. I pulled the coat out of the back of the closet to take to Goodwill and there was the pin. It reminds me of a bird, with the screw for an eye and the blades as its beak, so it is kind of two favorite images in one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This is what made me happy today.

Watching birds at the feeder. Do you think he was posing there for me? Or pooping? As you can see, he wouldn't be the first. Pretty, though.

On my way to the studio I popped into the greenhouse to see what Ray has been up to.

When I came in from the studio tonight I was pretty happy to see the solar path lights were lighted. That means the sun shone today. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I bought solar lights.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to a neglected project

I started making a quilt for my grandson about a year ago. I was going to have it ready for his first birthday in August. It didn't get done and in the excitement of building the studio and moving and going to Houston and yada, yada, yada, poor Marco's quilt was set aside. I am back at it and will have it finished by his next birthday for sure. It is one of those things that is going much more slowly than I thought it would, but it will be really bright and cheery when it is finished, I think. Here is how the blocks are going together.

He is a ray of sunshine in my life, along with his sister, so I think this sunny, stripey quilt will suit him to a T. He really is the sweetest little boy. Darling Marco.

And, on another front, my old sewing room is on its way to becoming a new space for guests and for Ray to hang out. It has taken me many months to finally get all my stuff cleared out of there. This weekend Ray started the demo part. It was such an awful room. One wall is painted swimming pool turquoise, the other three are the ubiquitous blue that was painted throughout the house when we bought it. There was a mural of underwater fish that ran around the top of all the walls, and a pink carpet. Yech, pooey! Ray is wasting no time in getting it ready for its makeover.

I am thinking of putting Flor modular carpet tiles in here. Has anyone used them? I'd love to know if they are as cool as they look online.

Friday, February 17, 2012

End of the week

OK, now that's what I'm talking about. Serious, real paper. Found at The Peddler's Pack in Beaverton. They had a little room just filled with paper. This is what I have been looking for. I'm not sure why it has been so important to find this store. I don't need paper right now. I had enough in my stash for my valentines, but the knowledge that my source had disappeared was upsetting. I love this kind of paper and have been a big consumer for booklets and yearbooks and, of course, valentines. Paper I can put through my printer, or cut up. Paper in a variety of weights. I'm very happy to know where to find it when I need it, because when I need paper I need it now. Whew. Now I can move on. And did I mention that they also have rubber stamps? Good golly, I have never seen so many rubber stamps. I looked at every single one and I did not buy a single one, but I came home and ordered a rubber stamp of a pair of scissors from an Etsy seller. As I was looking at all those rubber stamps it suddenly occurred to me that what I really need is a pair of scissors stamp. In all their gagillions of rubber stamps they did not have scissors. All this retail exposure this week has made me a crazy person. I need some alone time. And to stop buying stuff.

Finished another project today. Remember my card-weaving project? I finished the weaving and today constructed new handles for my beautiful Mexican basket. It had stiff basket material handles that were worked into the sides of the basket and they broke almost immediately. I sewed my woven strap to some natural colored webbing to make it even more sturdy and made strap handles that really support the basket. I think these will be very strong and secure and I like the way it looks.

And before leaving the studio I tried out the polka dot stencil that I made yesterday using my new hole punch tool. I used a little sponge to daub white fabric paint over the stencil onto some fabric. Looks a little like snow, don't you think?

The fish and the search for paper

Finished the Shweshwe fish today. It is one of those just for fun kind of pieces and I must say it really was fun to make. I hope Magie, the owner of the Coral Tree fabric company likes it. I made it for her to use in her booth to help sell the Shweshwe fabric. It will come back to me at some point, but for awhile this will be a working fish.

I got such good suggestions when I asked for places in Portland to find nice paper. I have checked out a couple of them. Paper Source is a national chain and has a couple of locations in the Portland area. I went to the one nearest me last weekend. Beautiful store and full of really tempting stuff! The selection of the kind of paper I was hoping to find wasn't nearly as good as the dearly departed Paper Zone's, but there was a wall of envelopes that were pretty great and then a whole store full of art supplies and tools and gizmos and gadgets. I walked around in there for nearly an hour and had every clerk watching me and asking if I needed help. I probably looked like a weird old lady shoplifter because I kept picking things up, putting them back, fondling and feeling. I ended up buying a pen that writes with white ink. No particular reason. It just seemed like I could use it.

Then, on a tip from Kathy White, an old quilting friend, I sought out Whimzee's Scrapbooking Studio, which it happens is pretty much hidden from sight, but not far from my house and just off all my daily routes. Who knew? Caaa-razy place! I mean, it is the ultimate store for scrapbookers, which I am not, but it was fascinatingly chaotic. I have never seen so much paper, and not a single piece that I wanted. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but it was all that large size, patterned scrapbook paper. I really wanted stuff I can put through my printer. Actually they have gorgeous paper. It really made me want to make something with it, but I'm not sure what. The other thing about scrapbookers, besides the paper, is that they have the coolest tools, and hidden amongst all those bins of paper at Whimzee's, and in no kind of organized order, I found them. I have a hard time resisting a nifty tool and I simply did not resist this handy, dandy Martha Steward hole punching tool.

I didn't know I needed it until I saw it and then it was love at first sight. After all, I already have a nice variety of the standard squeeze punch tools. But this one can punch 3 sizes of holes (two more punch tips are hidden inside the handle), can punch anywhere in a large sheet of material, unlike the others who can't reach much beyond the edge of anything, can punch multiple layers and it is just a cool tool.  I made myself a polka dot stencil just to try it out.

I have a couple more stores to find and explore. Wonder what I will find there that I can't live without. Probably not paper.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


A friend of mine took a trip several months ago. It was a textile tour to a faraway land, led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide, who is widely respected. Upon her return she shared her experiences with our small group. It was a wonderful trip, marred only by something very disturbing that the trip guide had done. Oddly, at the outset of the trip the guide had warned all the participants that they could take photos only for their own use and could not share them in any way, including posting to the internet. We are not talking just about photos of people who may not appreciate having their image used, but any photos, including street scenes or even the odd photo of their breakfast for a Facebook post! After the trip ended one of the participants did, indeed, post a few photos on her blog. The guide learned of this and sent a scathing, threatening letter to the poster and copied it to all the others who had been on the trip. It was a nasty letter. It was a pretty shocking overreaction. We were all quite stunned, knowing the great reputation this tour guide had enjoyed in the past and all agreed this was such a turnoff we would certainly avoid her business in the future.

That was on my mind when I read this a few days ago.  Seth Godin writes a great blog and I often find gems of thought there and this was one of the best. "Exactly," I thought to myself. Selfishness is never a good business strategy and an even worse human trait. So it is really surprising to me when you run into people who hold their ideas so tightly that you have to wonder how they came to be so badly burned. Such paranoia must surely be the result of a really bad experience somewhere along the line.

The part of the blog world I am most familiar with is filled with generosity and sharing of information. I take it for granted that if I have a question or need the solution to a problem all I have to do is ask and someone will supply me with an answer. That was demonstrated in a very small way this week when I asked where to find good paper now that my favorite purveyor has closed. I had suggestions and answers immediately. I try to reciprocate when I can.

So, happy Valentine's Day to all you generous souls out there! I may not say it, but I am touched by such openheartedness.

The image above is a detail from my new quilted work. When I shared it with my group last week they wanted to know how the little black dots were made. Sorry, I can't tell you. It is my secret invention.  HA HA! just kidding. It is black acrylic paint, squeezed out of a little plastic bottle with a sharp little tip. You didn't think I was going to hand stitch 100,000 French knots, did you?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stuff I like

I love when I find something really good. When I do I want to share it with all my friends. The last time I shared here was more than  3 years ago. BTW, I still love those things I wrote about then, especially the sponges.

This is not a new favorite thing, but definitely worth mentioning. If you hate the taste of licorice, feel free to move on, though it is hard to imagine there is anyone who could hate this. So delicious. It has a natural sweetness and wonderful fragrance. Stash brand teas are made here in Portland, but I think they are available widely.

A more recent discovery.

Wow, is this good! From my old reliable Trader Joe's, this very dark (85% cacao) chocolate from Colombia is better than any of those expensive chi chi chocolate bars. At $1.49 for two bars in a package, it is an affordable addiction. I love reading about all the antioxidant health benefits dark chocolate has. That makes it sort of like vitamins or exercise in my book. I eat it for my health, plus it is intoxicatingly delicious.

So, you know I have white hair. Have had for years. If you have white hair you know it can look dingy and yellowish, which is just not pretty. Ugh. The simple, but apparently little known, solution is purple shampoo, made for white hair. This is my favorite, Jhirmack Silver Plus. They recently changed the packaging. I hate when they do that. It makes it so hard to spot in the store. I thought they had stopped making it, but I finally found it again.

The shampoo itself is just about exactly the color of the lid—really purple. My supposition is that it has just enough purple coloring to neutralize any yellow tones. Whatever, it really works to keep white hair bright and white. Geezer beauty tip of the day!

And last, but maybe best—carb-free noodles. Not really noodles, but the best substitute I have come across. I am really trying to cut carbs in my diet, both to lose some weight and to lower my blood sugar. I just came across this idea. Zucchini noodles.

Take a fresh zucchini, peel or not (I peel) then slice off thin "noodles" with a potato peeler. Work your way, in a circle, around the zucchini until you get to the seedy center. When it starts to break down as you peel it, discard the center seedy part (or save for soup, as one web site suggested, but who does that?). Put the strips in a colander or sieve and sprinkle liberally with salt and toss. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour while the salt sweats some of the water out of the zucchini.  Before serving, rinse the salt off and squeeze the water out. DON'T cook. Cover with something delicious in the way of sauce. I had it with beef Stroganoff yesterday and it was incredibly like good, al dente pasta. You do not taste zucchini, but you get the texture and consistency of noodles. One medium sized zucchini yields a generous serving. (That's one in the photo)

I also like spaghetti squash or eggplant as a pasta substitute, but the zucchini strips are even better, in my opinion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The "Twelves" are back! Today is reveal day for the first theme, "Metamorphosis" in our new series. For this series we've made a few changes. First, the size. In honor of the year, the new pieces will all be 20" x12". This series will last only one year and there will be 5 pieces from each of us. This gives us a little more time to work on each piece, especially helpful since we are making bigger pieces. Also, we all felt we want to devote more time to our own work, as well as what we are doing for the project.

I loved this theme, proposed by Gerrie. As always the Twelves have interpreted it in quite different and wonderful ways! From the moment it was announced I knew that the metamorphosis I wanted to discuss, was how raw material becomes art. It is truly magical in my opinion. So I took a reference from the Franz Kafka book, Metamorphosis" and transformed my fabric into a "monstrous, verminous insect."

See all the Metamorphosis work here.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Did you miss me? It has not been a real blog-worthy week.  I have learned that one of my "introvert" traits is that I only talk when I have something to say, so I guess that applies to the blog as well. I've been busy with stuff. I have had several meetings this week, which is a mixed blessing. Driving all over the place, but being with friends and getting things done.

My "shweeshwee" project is coming right along, but I have no photos to show. I will. Soon.

It is valentine time. I worked on the valentines today and made the shocking discovery, when I went to buy paper and envelopes, that Paper Zone has closed. That is really distressing. Wonderful store.  I got so much beautiful paper there and I haven't a clue where to go now. So that put me in a bit of a funk. Paper Zone—gone. I bought envelopes at Staples. Boring, cheesy envelopes. Fortunately I had a supply of this deep red paper (purchased at Paper Zone)  from another project. The best part of making valentines is the great paper. Sigh. Tell me, tell me, if there is still a good source for beautiful paper in the Portland area.

In the process of moving my art and craft supplies to the new studio, I ran across things long forgotten, including a set of card-weaving cards. Funnily enough, I had recently wondered if I still had them. I need new handles for a beautiful basket I bought in Mexico a few years ago. The fiber handles got very brittle and last summer on our trip they broke. I learned card weaving many years ago and always loved the wonderful patterned straps and belts you could make without a loom. (Google "card weaving" or "tablet weaving" if you want to know more. Tons of info on the web) So I bought some supplies this week, really simple cotton crochet threads, and started weaving new handles for my basket. It is something I can do in the evening to stay awake! It goes rather quickly, but you do have to pay attention to how you turn the cards to achieve the pattern. It needs to be pretty long, so I will be at it for awhile.

One of my meetings this week was to start planning the next Washington County Open Studio tour this coming October. I am going to be handling the registrations. I am really looking forward to having my studio open for the first time. It is a good incentive to get a lot done in the coming months.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Lovely lady

My friend, Del Thomas, has had a gallery at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego named in her honor. First, I must tell you that the Visions Museum is one of the few art museums in the world, and probably the best known, that is dedicated to the art of the quilt. Then I must tell you that Del, a collector and dedicated supporter of quilt art and quilt artists is probably the best friend a quilt artist could ever have. Her Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection is large and eclectic. Here she is at the opening, last week, of the newly named gallery, and an exhibit of some of the small quilts from her collection.

Del has been such an incredible motivator for me, personally. She owns several pieces of mine and has been generous with her praise and encouragement. There are two of my pieces in the photo above. "Laurel" is in the top row, third from the left, and "Tillamook Rooster" is the first piece in the third row down on the left. Del's sponsorship made possible the Twelve by Twelve exhibits at the International Quilt Festival shows in Houston, Cincinnati and Long Beach this year—not a small thing! In addition to her incredible generosity and patronage, she is a dear and lovely person. The last time I saw her, she was passing through Portland and we met for coffee. She brought along a new quilt acquisition to show me. A beautiful quilt that she was so excited to share. Such enthusiasm and  passion for our medium. I love hearing her talk about it. It is fitting that her name will always be attached to such a prestigious quilt art gallery.

Join me in a toast — "Here's to Del!"

  My quilt, "Douglas Fir Cone" is the latest addition to the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

I'm such a non-sports fan. I didn't watch the Super Bowl. I went to the studio. I swept and mopped the floor. It has been a moisty, muddy winter. Then I worked on the shweshwe fabric project. The fish is coming along swimmingly. (har har). This is a not-great phone photo, but you get the idea.

I am quite liking the way the colors are working. I really had my doubts about those colors in the shweshwe fabrics. They are crayon box colors—kind of the basic, predictable shade of each color, which is never my choice, but I like what the black and the acid greens do with them. Now I need to figure out what kind of background will work.


 I like to go back in my blog to see what I wrote on this same date one year ago, or three years ago, four or five. I was looking back today and came to this entry on February 5, four years ago.  What an intense, sad and strange 2 weeks I had been through. Makes me sad all over again.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


Now, here's an interesting challenge—make a small piece using several pieces of this wonderful South African fabric called ShweShwe. This challenge came by way of my 12 x 12 friend, Helen. The African Fabric shop in England sent several of us a small collection of fabric to make something from. Here is the collection I chose.

Cool fabric, but these four colors seem very close in value and the scale is a little difficult. I kind of wish they had offered more variety. Oh, well, this is the challenge. What to make of these fabrics?

I need to think about what colors and fabrics I could add to these.

Warm, golden yellow? I like.

Acid green? Oh yeah. I like this too.

Maybe choose one of the colors to highlight?

And add that golden yellow? Mmmm. I am beginning to see some possibilities.

I keep seeing fish scales in that pattern. Maybe I need to follow that lead. I've always loved Susan Carlson's fish quilts.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Gelli plate printing

Several months ago I won a 6" x 6" Gelli printing plate from fellow blogger, Judy Carpenter. I have been looking forward to trying it out, but couldn't seem to get to it until today. Neat idea and easy to use.

Here is my setup:

Gelli plate at left. It is a smooth piece of something (plastic, silicone, ??) that has the feel of those gelli window decal things. Firm rubber brayer, acrylic plate for rolling paint out on and paint. I used inexpensive acrylic paints for experimenting.

Squeeze some paint out on the acrylic palette and roll it out with the brayer until it is mixed as wanted. Then roll a thin layer of paint onto the gel plate. Make marks in paint, then lay a piece of fabric or paper face down on the plate and smooth it carefully so it will pick up the paint from the plate.

I crumpled up a piece of paper, opened it up and carefully pressed it into the paint here. This is the resulting print:
For another I used a bamboo skewer whose point I had blunted with sandpaper, and drew into the paint on the plate.

I think the most interesting and successful prints were made using some of my collection of Indonesian printing blocks, pressed into the paint.

This one was pretty boring, so I printed over it.

The new print is the one at the top of the blog.

These are the prints. Some were pretty exciting, some were so-so and some are not at all interesting. Those might get a second round one of these days.

I think this was my favorite.

I'm not sure how I will use these, but it is always good to have a new technique in my back pocket.