Sunday, October 30, 2005

32? Yikes!

Happy Birthday, Andy!

Poor broken birdbath

When we redesigned our yard last year we went a little nuts for garden art and accessories. We saw this birdbath at a fancy-schmancy garden store and fell in love with it. It was 40% off, because the store was closing, and still probably more expensive than it should have been, but we loved it and so we took it home. One day my friend, June Underwood, came to my house to draw and we sat outside in the sunshine and I drew my lovely birdbath. I watched it through the late summer and fall as the birds flocked to its loveliness.

One day this summer Ray came into the house with a stricken look on his face. I thought something terrible had happened--I mean really terrible. "I broke the birdbath" he moaned. Tipped the bowl up to clean it and lost control of it. It smashed on the ground.

I searched in vain for a replacement. After disappointing visits to as many garden centers as I could find, in desperation I googled "birdbath Portland" and discovered A-1 Birdbath on Division Street. "Factory prices since 1942". I went right over. They had many, many birdbaths, wonderful birdbaths, and the owner, Stefan, was willing to sell me just the bowl. The problem was that most birdbath bowls are rounded on the bottom. I needed one that was flat to sit on the wide, flat top of the surviving pedestal. I found a nice plain bowl that I liked, but it was also rounded on the bottom. I explained the problem to Stefan and he said "I can make for you with flat bottom". So he did--for a very reasonable price. I now have to try to stain it to match the nice antique-y brown color of the base. I think I will tackle that this afternoon. I'll let you know how it works out.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Visit with an old friend

While in Pocatello (I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that short trip!) I got to see one of my quilts that I made about 10 years ago. It is hanging in my brother's house. They have a 2-story livingroom with a blank wall that really cried out for something dramatic, so a few years ago I gave them my van Gogh Iris quilt on "longterm loan". It has faded a little from the sun, despite being sprayed with UV protectant and good shades on the windows. I think that's bound to happen, unless you keep the piece under wraps and what good is that? So, Oh well...

This quilt was made for a contest that Quilters Newsletter magazine had. The theme was something about quilts inspired by famous artists. (see the painting that inspired it below) The winner was Lura Schwarz Smith's wonderful piece "Seams like Degas", which has become very famous. But my quilt was a finalist and was published in the Nov. 1996 issue of QNM (centerfold with a staple in it) and was exhibited all over the place including the Quilt Expo in Lyon, France. It was such a learning experience--one of the first real art quilts I made. It was a struggle to put together. I machine-pieced and hand appliqued. Today I would fuse. It was one of those pieces that looked like a hodge-podge-y mess as I worked with it close-up and I had to keep pinning it on the wall and standing way back to reassure myself that it was working. It was a lesson in learning to trust the vision and keep going.

It was good to see it again. I still like it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pocatello part 2

The small mountain in the picture was the view from our front window when I was growing up. It changed color during the day and with the weather--sometimes a delicate pink, sometimes an angry gray, and on a sunny day, covered with snow it sparkled like silver lame. Until 2001 it was known as "Chinks Peak". When I was a kid I didn't know the word "Chink" as anything other than the name of this particular peak. I think I vaguely supposed it was someone's name. I never heard that the mountain was named for the Chinese workers who helped build the railroad and worked in the mines. I didn't know the word was a racial slur. In 2001 it was renamed "Chinese Peak". Amazing how long it takes sensitivity to catch up with geography.

As much as I enjoyed the fall scenery on my trip to Pocatello, the real joy of going "home" is connecting with friends and family. Above, my beautiful niece, Steffi, who accompanied us on our walk on her unicycle and below, my handsome, 50-years-young brother, Steve.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


There is a book, by Richard Neuberger called "They Never Go Back to Pocatello." Well, I grew up in Pocatello and I DO go back.

I went back last weekend to help my brother celebrate his 50th birthday. It was a crisp fall weekend of clear blue skies, brilliant yellow aspen, scarlet mountain maple and smoky gray sagebrush,--beautiful, as only fall in Southeast Idaho can be.

We walked down the road near my childhood home to what is now the Edson Fichter Nature area and looked down through the valley along the Portneuf River toward the Portneuf gap, where the Oregon Trail came through the mountains. We stopped by a pond and watched a Union Pacific freight train chug past the lava cliffs in the background, where you can find Indian petroglyphs. Pocatello is a "railroad town". I used to hear the train whistles at night as I was falling asleep. To this day it is one of the most comforting sounds I know.

P.S. Happy Birthday Steve! Today is his real birthday and I still remember how excited I was the day he was born.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What i'm working on

This is the large piece I am currently working on. It is an Otavalena weaver. Last week I took just the face and the large drawing to show my small art group. (there is a caption on the picture because I emailed it to a friend who wasn't at the meeting) This week I took it to High Fiber Diet for critique (see below). There will be a background. It is temporarily pinned to the black fabric.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


The art quilt group I belong to has tried, over the years, to conduct critiques of members' work. We tried yet again the other night. We had several questions to consider--"What do you see in the work? What are the images and the techniques in the work? How does the work make you feel?" We would not offer value judgements. We would avoid statements like "I like it--it's nice."

We got a good start with two pieces, from two different people, that were part of a challenge to respond to the same photograph. Good "compare and contrast" comments, good "how it makes you feel" comments. It was exhausting. We congratulated ourselves on how well we had critiqued. Then my in-progress piece went up on the wall. Somebody walked up and peered at it closely. Someone whispered, "is that painted?" I answered the question. (yes) Then someone took a shot at what they were seeing, then someone asked me if it was based on a photograph (a composite of several) and what kind of background it was going to have. Then someone said, " hey, we're getting away from the critique structure we set up" and everyone went "oh yeah" and then fell silent.

I took my piece down and another went up. We pulled ourselves together and tried real hard to address the questions again. No one mentioned the obvious problem with the piece, until the artist finally said, "does this HERE bother any of you?" Everyone kind of hemmed around and went "umm, well......" Then she said it was a class piece and the teacher had urged her to line up these circles across the bottom and she didn't like it and what did we think? Then everyone went "Oh YEAH--that's BAD--you might want to fix that!" Lots of animation. Then we caught ourselves being judgemental and fell silent again.

The last piece went up on the wall. No one said a word. Everyone studied it. Not a word. Somebody cleared their throat like they were about to say something, but then didn't. Everyone looked real serious and thoughtful, but no one spoke. Someone tapped their pencil, the artist looked apprehensive and raised her eyebrows in question... I couldn't stand it. I said, "I know I'm not supposed to say this, but I * just * love* this * piece!" Everybody said, "Me too, me too." Someone said, "How does it make you feel?" and we all cracked up. The artist said, "Any suggestions?" and we said, "we like it--it's nice!"

We're going to try again next month.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

6 things I've learned about blogs in the last month

It has actually been more than a month since I started this, but I have been thinking about what I have learned so far.

1. Bloggers are a secret community -- especially the Artful Quilters Blog Ring. Everyone seems very chummy and familiar. It feels like there is an inner circle. They all link to one another and leave comments on each other's blogs. I feel like the new girl at school. They are checking me out. Some have left comments -- nice things. It's like when the "in group" tells the new girl they like her shoes. It isn't the same as being invited to eat lunch with them, but it's a step in that direction. I'll feel like I've been included at the cool lunch table when I see my blog listed on one of their "links" lists.

2. Posting a blog entry is way easier than creating a web page. It gives one a sense of power and a little thrill of seeing your words "in print". I am understanding the addictive nature of the blog.

3. I like the pictures in blogs. I am likely to skip reading a blog that has no pictures. Maybe I like pictures too much. Maybe I have been posting too many pictures that aren't too interesting just for the sake of having lots of pictures. My husband told me he couldn't download all the pictures when he looked at my last several entries. Maybe I will be more selective when including pictures. Maybe.

4. Speaking of the pictures, getting them placed in the text in a nice way is a pain in the ass. Maybe I haven't figured it all out, but why do they each come into the text right at the top? Then why is it so hard to move them around? And why does the text wrap and jump so oddly? It is hard to get a nice neat layout.

5. Getting all that extra stuff in the sidebar, like links, is a little bit complicated and time-consuming. I need to work on that.

6. I have started viewing all the events of my everyday life as potential blog subject matter. Isn't this a little wierd? Should I be worried?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Art Harvest

When we left Mike Santone's it was really raining. Kathy Thompson makes mosaics in her barn/studio, which is just across the drive from her luscious garden. By now the earlier latte was causing some discomfort and the rain was really just coming down, so we decided Kathy was the end of our tour.

We headed for the little town of Carlton (which, BTW, is featured in this month's Sunset Magazine) and made a stop at Late Bloomers Quilt Shop, as much to use their restroom as to shop. I like the Late Bloomers pig. I did come home with a couple of pieces of fabric--it seemed like the right thing to do.

It is great to see what other artists are up to and I always get inspired. I am very jealous of the beautiful studios I saw. My little spare bedroom studio is a hovel.

Yamhill Art Harvest--Oh yes, there's more

When we could finally tear ourselves away from the fabulous Worrix apartment in McMinnville, Jeri and I headed out into the countryside. I drove, Jeri navigated, so I don't really know where I was. I was just following directions. We made our way to the studio of Mike Santone who is a potter who makes clay masks. He has a wonderful studio next to his house out on a country lane. When I pulled into the parking space, one of his faces was watching me from a tree.
We were envious of his nicely lit and spacious studio.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Yamhill Art Harvest 2

In the Worrix apartment, three other artists, besides Marilyn Worrix were set up. Doug Roy does "paper carving"--pictures constructed of cut paper layered in tiny and intricate pattern. His work is so much more interesting than it appears in these photos. We have seen his work before and look forward to seeing what his newest is. I especially love his tiny, fanciful beetles.

In the room just off the dining room, quilt artist Chris Johnson had her work set up.

In the diningroom, John Tallerino's "Shrines" were displayed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Yamhill Art Harvest

Yesterday my friend, Jeri, and I went out to Yamhill County for the annual Artists' Studio Tour. Yamhill county is south and west of Portland and is best known as Oregon Wine country. It is green, lush rolling hills, farms, vineyards and orchards. This time of year it is especially beautiful, so part of the charm of this open studio tour is the drive through the countryside.
We started in McMinnville where four artists were showing at the home and studio of Marilyn Worrix. Marilyn and her husband purchased the old Elks' Club in downtown McMinnville and renovated it with shops on the street level and apartment and studio on the second floor where they live. Marilyn was very gracious about allowing me to take pictures of her home, which is a faithful restoration of this classic Craftsman building. The street level entrance gives you a hint of what is to come. Marilyn, a book artist, has a spacious studio space crammed full of supplies. She was demonstrating in the studio during the tour. Book artists are similar to fabric artists, in that they hoard bits and pieces and accumulate large stashes of paper (instead of fabric). She also had drawers and jars and containers of buttons and charms and ribbons and cords, plus a nice assortment of cutters and scissors and rulers and mats. Jeri and I felt right at home.
Marilyn's husband allowed us to look into the ballroom, which is their next renovation project. It is currently being used as a shop and is full of tools and equipment. I was as impressed by the tour of the apartment as I was by the art.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Another Pet Project

The other quilt I had in the "Pet Projects" show is my quilt called "Journey to the Big City." I made this piece when I first joined High Fiber Diet for a show called "Journeys".

Even though I grew up in a smallish city (Pocatello, Idaho) I love big cities. If I am going on vacation you can forget the beach, or some fancy resort. Don't expect me to climb a mountain or sleep in a tent. I want a little CULTURE! I want restaurants and art museums and architecture and theater and a nice hotel room, por favor.

When I was looking for the photo of this piece I discovered I still had my original Illustrator design for this piece on my computer. I thought it would be fun to see the two together. Finished quilt above, on the left, Illustrator artwork on the right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pet Projects

I just got a couple of quilts back that have been in an exhibit called "Pet Projects." It was part of "Quilt County," an annual Festival of quilting that goes on in Benton County Oregon. (That's Corvallis and surroundings)

"Pet Projects" was a group of quilts from High Fiber Diet, the art quilt group I belong to. The idea was that these were personal favorite pieces of each artist--no theme, new or old, for sale or not--just pieces that we had a great fondness for. One of the pieces I chose to show is "Rockin' and Rollin'". I think I made this piece in about 2001. It started out as a challenge for our small group to use an unconventional material in a quilt. Those are metal washers you see on this piece. It was also an opportunity to use a bunch of African fabrics I had been accumulating. It was one of the most fun, most spontaneous pieces I have ever made. It started me on a series of pieces using circles in mandala-type designs.

The next was "Earth, Moon and Sun". For "Rockin and Rollin" I had pieced and hand-appliqued the shapes. I wanted something that produced a more precise circle and design, so I started developing the fusing techniques that I now use exclusively. "Earth, Moon and Sun" appeared in the book "Within Sacred Circles: Meditations and Mandala Quilts"

Then I made a really big mandala using solids and fabrics that I had printed with stripes. It was in a special exhibit called "Quilts of the Pacific Rim" which was shown at the Mancuso shows in Hawaii and North Carolina.

The final piece in the series is actually 12 little quilts attached to each other to make a larger piece. Harking back to the original in the series, the little quilts are attached to little metal washers that hold them all together.

I'm quite fond of this entire series, but now I've moved on.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


This is a dress my mother made for me when I was about 2 years old. It is one of many. She didn't own a sewing machine at the time, so it is made entirely by hand--tiny stitches, french seams and hand embroidery. Here are Mom and me on Easter Sunday. I am wearing the dress.
My mother always said she didn't enjoy sewing. (even after she got a sewing machine) She found it "nerve-wracking." But she sewed so many clothes for me and my sister, including costumes and formal dresses, and each was beautifully made and fit perfectly. I think her perfectionist personality prevented her from really enjoying sewing. She fretted over minor irregularities and ripped out stitches and redid them when they didn't meet her high standards. And she was never completely satisfied with her work. She was very hard on herself, but not on anyone else. When my sister and I began to sew our own clothes she was a patient and encouraging teacher and she loved everything we ever made. She was my biggest supporter as a quilter and artist.

Mom died seven years ago this week. It is hard to believe she has been gone that long because she is so present in my thoughts, especially as I cut and sew and design my work. I wish she had enjoyed doing it as much as I do, but I remember, with great pleasure, how much she enjoyed seeing what I did.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Folk Art Ecuador

In the city of Cuenca, in Ecuador, you can buy metal crosses that are made to go on the roof of your house to bless the house. Each is made by hand, no two are exactly alike, and you can find them for sale at the "Housewares Market" in all sizes. As you travel around the countryside and even in the cities, if you look up you will see these charming crosses at the tops of the roofs of houses old and new. These two are quite small (about 10" tall) and I have them hanging in my kitchen.

In this picture of a house in Cuenca you can see one on the roof of the house.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Landscape design

Several years ago I designed a brochure for a landscape designer named Mitzi van Sant. Mitzi is a really great person and very talented and very knowledgeable. We share a love of craftsman houses and that period's design sensibility. I had a really good time designing her brochure. It was my first solid design job after leaving the National Psoriasis Foundation and it was a lot more fun to work with beautiful photos of gardens and flowers than it was to work with photos of scaly skin.

A year or so later, we called Mitzi to help us redesign our yard, which was somewhat out of control. She came up with great ideas, a plan, plant lists and drawings for us, then she up and moved, from Portland, to Austin, Texas. We've stayed in touch and this week our garden debuted on her web site, "Grant Garden" is us. I feel like a celebrity!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Another face

Awhile back I showed you the faces I have been doing lately. Here is the first quilt I ever did with a face. Our guild had a challenge called "the unexpected". A requirement was to use a piece of Jane Sassaman fabric called "tri-flower", which provided the round purple and orange flowers in the background. I added in some other flowers from the same collection and created a face in Illustrator that I printed onto fabric, fused the whole mess down and quilted. I called it "Judith's garden was unexpectedly successful." I don't even know anyone named Judith, but the face just looked like a Judith to me.

Monday, October 03, 2005


I made this little bird today to send to the second round of the artdoinggood fundraiser for hurricane victims. You may recognize the bird. He was in another piece that I showed you a couple weeks ago. He was a different color in that piece. This piece is only 6" square--just about the smallest art quilt I have ever made.

I like birds. I enjoy watching them in the yard at the feeders and the birdbaths. I am not very knowledgeable. I have a bird book, but I find it hard to identify the birds using the book. I think I have found my bird then notice that this species is only found in Patagonia or some such thing. But I love images of birds. I have a bunch of Mexican pottery birds that I have collected over the years.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


It is what Oregon is known for, but we haven't seen any rain here for a long time. Yesterday it came down all day. A good, sincere rain. It cleaned the dust off everything and soaked the gardens and smelled wonderful.

I stepped out the back door and took this picture of one of the fish blocks in my patio. They were really swimming yesterday!

I made a bunch of these blocks from a mold that I got from a Portland artist/designer Catherine Failor Hers are the nicest designs I have seen.