Monday, March 31, 2008

Twelve by Twelve - Community

Time to reveal the results of the newest 12 x 12 Challenge. The theme is "community". Here's a detail of my contribution.

Hop on over to the 12 x 12 blog to see my piece and all the others. A lot of thought went into this challenging theme! The results are pretty wonderful and diverse.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Taking pictures

I have spent a lot of time this weekend taking photos. Our house goes on the market tomorrow. We are going to start out trying to sell it ourselves. This is something we have wanted to try for a long time. We have never sold a house without the assistance of a realtor, but in this instance we are not frantically trying to relocate to a new city, start new jobs, put kids into new schools and all that. Twice in the past we have bought homes directly from the previous owners. These have been the easiest, most pleasant real estate transactions we have experienced. Maybe we'll end up using a realtor this time, but we'll give it a try on our own first.

But I digress. Pictures—that's what I was talking about. I'm putting together a little blog with a couple of slide shows to direct potential buyers to. You are welcome to take a look and let me know what you think. Here. So I am looking at my own house through the eyes of potential buyers. I take my photos, then I look at them on the monitor and I tweak the brightness and contrast and crop out the messy stack of magazines and the jacket hanging on the back of a chair. And it's amazing. I really have never seen my own house like this.

Suddenly I'm nostalgic for this house, even though we are still here. Then I notice those odd things like the chandelier that isn't centered over the table. I've lived with it so long I don't notice it until I see it in a photo. Sometimes I think it is a good thing to move just so you start to see things in a new setting or in a new way—or as they really are. When I packed up things that were cluttering the kitchen countertops I noticed how old and grungy some of them looked. My blender was a wedding present 38 years ago. It works as well as ever, but the glass vessel is cloudy, the "white" plastic casing is yellow. It looks like hell and it's not making the move. But I hadn't really seen it, sitting right under my nose, for years.

When I got to my studio I cleaned up before taking pictures, but not too much. Of all rooms in the house, this is the one that has not been "staged" and pared down and stripped of its personal touches.
I left the birds I made my recently sitting out on my cutting table. Maybe they will hold some charm for the people who come to look at the house. Maybe.

The sign goes up tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Friday, March 28, 2008


My last post about the movie and the typeface Helvetica was my 500th blog entry. That number sort of blows my mind. Who'd a thunk I had that much to say?

Several months ago I had a thought that I might take a break from the blog for a month or so as we worked on the house. But it seemed like if I took a break I might never come back. Don't ask me why I felt that. It just seemed liked either I do it or I don't. So for the forseeable future I am doing it.

That 500th post about Helvetica surprised me. Lots of interesting comments and a few from people I'd never heard from before. One very nice discovery—the blog of susanb, who left a comment. (Take a few seconds and go look. Does she make great stuff, or what?) When my friend, Beth, and I walked yesterday she said she almost left a comment confirming my suspicion that some readers might grow bored, nod off and bang their heads on their keyboards as a result of the topic. Typography is an acquired taste. She was going to write that she had imbedded keyboard impressions in her forehead. Beth never leaves a comment on the blog, but instead tells me the next day what her comment would have been! (news flash—Just to prove me wrong, I guess, Beth just left her comment on the last post)

It is a quiet morning around here. March 28, 2008. My 501st blog post. Ray reads the paper and I am at the computer.

And it is snowing. All over the daffodils and the camellias and the lilac buds.

Go figure. Every day brings a new surprise. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Have you noticed that at the top of this blog I list Graphic Design as one of the topics this blog is about? And have you been waiting for a couple of years to read any mention here of graphic design? Wait no more. Tonight I have graphic design on my mind.

We saw a fascinating movie the other night. It is a documentary about the typeface called Helvetica, which is the title of the movie. I am a self-professed "type nerd" so it was right up my alley, but I think most creative people will find it interesting. I especially loved the interviews with the German typographer Erik Spiekermann. You can see a clip here. (He's not much of a fan of Helvetica)

If you are not familiar with the typeface this is it:

It was designed in Switzerland 50 years ago and has become the most commonly used typeface in the world. You probably see it in advertising, signage and print hundreds of times a day. The movie talks about why it has become so ubiquitous.

When our small group was at the beach a discussion of movies led to discussion of Helvetica, the movie. I shocked Gerrie when I said that I don't much care for Helvetica, the typeface. (Loved the movie; the typeface—not so much) The thing that has made it so useful for such things as signage, is its transparency. It is a type that you don't notice. It has no character. It is like air. I do appreciate those useful properties, but it seems to me so overused that to use it is almost a concession to having no real opinion or point of view.

So, what do I like? For sans serif type, which is what Helvetica is (serifs are those little feet you see at the bottom of letters, like the type I am using here. Sans serif type has no little feet) I am quite fond of Gill Sans, which some may also argue is overused. This is Gill Sans:
Unlike Helvetica, Gill Sans is what is called a "humanist" face because the form of the letters follows the modulations that are natural to handwritten text, written with a broad-nib pen. You can see this most clearly in the thick and thin curves of the n, r and a. To my eye Gill Sans is a warmer, friendlier face than the machine-like Helvetica.

Another sans serif (but just barely—if you look hard you will see slight hints of serifs here and there), not nearly so useful, but fun to use for invitations and some special applications is Goudy Sans, designed in the 1920s. Quirky, but quite elegant. I tend to overuse it. I am quite in love with this typeface.
If you have not yet nodded off and banged your head against your keyboard and might have some interest in type, the best book, by far, (in my opinion) is The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. It is a book I have read several times and is as engaging to me as any good novel. It has history, romance, intrigue and even humor.

So, what, you may ask, does Bringhurst have to say about Helvetica? Not much. It isn't even listed among his type examples toward the back of the book.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The parents

Carla asked for a photo of Sofia and her parents. I realized that my blog tends to ignore the fact that she does have wonderful parents, not just grandparents! Here they are. My beautiful daughter, Emily, Sofia and her handsome Dad, Carlos. It's been quite a year for all of them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The quilt

Here are Sofi and me with her quilt. When I blogged about the quilt and Sofia's bedroom with the Ecuadorean rain forest animals her Dad painted, several of you mentioned that you'd love to see her room. Here is a small glimpse. This wall has monkeys and a parrot. On the the other walls there are jaguars and other animals. She seems to love to look at the animals on the wall. I think she likes her quilt, though she was a little overwhelmed with gifts. Honestly, I think she was more impressed with the wrapping paper and the cards than she was with the actual gifts.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Birthday girl

Hi. My name is Sofia and today was my first birthday! They tell me I have changed quite a lot in this last year.

I have been feeling lousy all week, with an ear infection and upset tummy from the antibiotics I've been taking, but I do love a party so I got all dressed up and pulled myself together to see what this birthday business is all about.

It was great. See the cool cake my mom made? I got to eat my own special little cake! Yummmm-meee.

Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Andy and lots of our friends came and they sang to me and we danced and ate a lot of good food and I got presents and cards. I liked the cards a lot. And the paper. The presents were OK too.

It was a wonderful day. I am very tired.

Love, Sofia

Friday, March 21, 2008

Beeeeee careful

Today the old china cabinet moved from the old house to the new house. Part of our preparation for putting our house on the market is taking a lot of the furniture away and spreading out what is left to make the rooms look more spacious. This is a "tip" that shows up in all the "how to sell your house in a bad market" articles. Does this really work? Do potential buyers not notice that the newly spacious-looking house is lacking in basic amenities, like dishes and glassware and any personal items? Well, anyway, whatever, that is what we are doing. Yet another example of "less is more" I guess.

Ray enlisted Andy's help. Andy is our son and is a graphics guy at a big Fedex Kinko's, which has given him lots of experience in packing things to ship. He was today's idea guy for the preparations. I was the person designated to wring my hands and make that "eeeeeee" face and repeatedly say, "beeeeee careful."

Andy's idea was to equalize any pressure on the fragile curved glass by filling the inside of the cabinet with pillows and foam rubber pads, then pad the outside, then encase it all in cardboard.

Is this making you nervous? Can I mention that Ray has had a mild case of the clumsies and broken a couple of things recently?

The mummified china cabinet was carefully carried down two flights of stairs, loaded into the back of the pickup and driven the 10 miles to the new house, unloaded, carried into the house, unpacked and put back on its cute little feet. Whew. Success.

This was my great grandmother's china cabinet, which makes it old. Really old. It was in her boarding house in Swink, Colorado for many years until her death. It moved to my parents' house in Pocatello, Idaho, then came to me in Portland, Oregon. That glass is old and wavery and thin.

We moved the washstand that also came from the Colorado boarding house. It sure fits nicely on that little wall.
Little by little . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Less is more

Mies Van Der Rohe said it and I believe it—really I do—but it's a hard concept to live by. It is something I have been telling myself almost daily as I sort through a lifetime accumulation of stuff in preparation for our move to a house that is smaller than the one we are currently occupying. I am pleased with my progress. I am taking huge bags to Goodwill nearly daily now.

Part of my purge has been disposing of the collection of old sewing gadgets and notions and stuff that I accumulated for years. I had a box of old wooden thread spools, some with thread, some without. I always thought I might do something with them, but never did. When I was making birds awhile back someone sent me a link to Abby Glassenberg's blog. Abby lives clear across the country in Massachusetts and makes incredible fabric birds. I was enchanted and read back through her blog. I noticed that she had at least one bird sitting on a wooden spool and in the accompanying blog entry she mentioned that her supply of old spools was getting regrettably low. Perfect. I sent her my box of spools. She seemed quite pleased and sent, in return, a small collection of fabrics from her stash, something I will certainly use. Less IS more.

Aren't these wonderful?

Especially this one!
I am putting the concept into practice in other ways as well. My original plan for Sofia's 1-year-old quilt included a border appliqued with flowers and leaves and butterflies and dragonflies.

As soon as I got this much pinned I knew it wasn't going to happen. Really, the center pieced section is so pretty (if I do say so myself) that it doesn't need the distraction of a lot of stuff around the border. Also, on a practical note, it was probably going to take me another year to get the border done and I want my baby to be able to have her quilt and use it. So the solution was to quilt the border design.

I even quilted a semi-secret message in the border. Can you see it? Probably not. It says, "For Sofia with love from your Grandma Terry"

I may be getting the hang of this "less is more" business.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Scenes from the beach

The second morning we were at the beach the power was out when we woke up. It was cold and we had no way of making coffee or cooking breakfast. Breakfast, by the way, is the one meal we get pretty serious about on these outings. Three mornings divided by 6 people means we pair up and each pair plans breakfast. The rest of our meals are catch as catch can. (I think I mentioned last year that we decided two scoops of Tillamook ice cream constitute lunch.) So on this morning there was no hot breakfast. Reva took matters into her own hands and figured out how to warm up (sorta) a cold quesadilla left over from the night before. The rest of us opted for a trip to Starbucks in Tillamook and Starbucks breakfast wraps. Beth and I cooked our planned breakfast for dinner that night. Turned out even better than if we'd planned it that way. Breakfast is always better accompanied by a nice glass of wine!

Every retreat weekend must, must include at least one good long walk on the beach regardless of weather. As it turned out the weather cleared for us. I always take my camera and I think I am going to get the greatest pictures. Somehow the pictures never really live up to the real thing. I think you have to be feeling the wind and hearing the gulls and smelling the ocean for the full effect, but here's this year's offering. Focus on textures.

Gerrie on the left, Reva, Beth—telling a big fish story I think, and Linda

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting away for the view and the junk

I've been to the beach with my friends. Gerrie had her laptop along so she blogged as she went and captured more detail than I will give you. I am really tired tonight, but it was totally worth the tired. Not that we did that much to tire us out. Read. Sewed. Walked on the beach. Shopped a little. Ate some really good ice cream. I ended up with a hide-a-bed instead of a real bed, so the first night I slept diagonally to avoid the hideous bar in the ribs. Not totally successful, so I pulled the mattress onto the floor for the next two nights. Better, but not like home.

We rented two condos, side by side. We sewed and visited in one and cooked and ate in the other. This worked really well. We didn't have to tidy up our sewing projects in order to eat. One of these days this condo is probably going to fall into the ocean. It's that close. Here's the view just beyond the picnic table you see above.

Just around the corner was this little shop:

These are my friends peering in the windows. It was, according to the sign, supposed to be open, but there was no one there. The stuff sitting around outside was intriguing. Do you see the shark's jawbone sitting on the stump? The stuff we could see through the windows was even more so.

Even the boneyard around the side of the shop was interesting. I have known and loved a close relative of that chair that sits soaked and rotting in the rain.

What had been a mild interest in what the funky little shop might hold was fast turning into an obsession. Where was the owner?? The place was supposed to be open, dammit! There was treasure in there, just beyond our reach. Nevermind that I spent most of last week hauling junk out of my own house to take to Goodwill, this was new junk!—well, old junk really, but new to us.

Pretty soon the owner arrived, breathless, bearing brownies and the key to the door. The power had been off that morning, so she had to wait til it came back on to bake her brownies—then she could come and unlock her shop. Finally we could inspect everything up close and personal. Junk, pretty much. Chia pets and mismatched glassware, souvenirs of long-forgotten vacations and old fishing poles and well-used cowboy boots. But the brownies were delicious.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fiberart For a Cause

click graphic for the Reverse Auction web site
I am really pleased to be a part of this year's Reverse Auction Fundraiser for Fiberart For a Cause. FFAC founder, Virginia Spiegal, asked me if I would be willing to participate this year and I jumped at the chance. She has donated more than $140,000 to The American Cancer Society for cancer research through her fundraising efforts. I have donated one of my favorite pieces of fabric art to be auctioned this year. There are wonderful pieces from other artists as well. I hope you will click on over to the site and check them out. Spread the word! Let your friends know about this great opportunity to support cancer research by adding a stunning artwork to their lives.
Ten years ago my wonderful father died of pancreatic cancer. It is one of the most deadly cancers and strikes unexpectedly, with no symptoms until it is too late to treat it. He lived less than 5 months after his diagnosis. My mother survived breast cancer, but it impacted her health and quality of life dramatically and may have contributed to her death just 5 months after my father's. I feel I lost them both far too soon and I miss them every day. I am always glad to do whatever I can to help raise funds for cancer research.
P.S. This entry is dated March 13, as Gale observed. I purposely postdated it so that it will stay at the top of my blog until the end of the reverse auction.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To every thing there is a season

There was a time in my life when I was ambitious. I wanted recognition. I wanted a career as an artist/designer. I wanted to be published and if not famous, at least to have a certain reputation within a certain circle. I designed patterns that didn't sell very well. (Oh my. They were so complicated) I submitted proposals to magazines that fell on deaf ears. I entered shows and was occasionally accepted. I agonized and swallowed rejection like the bitter pill that it can be. I did not want a hobby, I wanted a career. But my art and my fabric stuff remained in the hobby (now that's a word I really dislike. It sounds so trivial) realm and my careers became raising children and managing shops and studying design and designing publications and being married (yes, that is a career!) and finally finding myself at a place where earning a living was no longer the incentive and I could do pretty much what I wanted to do.
And just lately, things I once pursued longingly, seem to be dropping into my lap unbidden. I have been asked to contribute to a book. I have been asked to write magazine articles. I have been invited to participate in a terrific show of art quilts. I was asked to contribute to a respected online auction (see the post above) and today the piece I donated sold for a nice amount. I am happy, but a little confused by this turn of events and I've been thinking about this quite a lot. If I was once competitive, I don't think I am much anymore. I don't enter many shows. I enjoy making what I make. I enjoy selling it and I enjoy giving it away sometimes.

For a long time I tried so many ways to turn my artmaking into a way to earn money, and that just didn't happen in the way that would have made it a viable job. Maybe if the internet had existed back then. Or if I had been more aggressive, which is probably closer to the truth. But maybe if it had become a job it would have been less enjoyable, less fulfilling—or maybe more. Who knows? I do know that while I was frustrated I was not deterred and here I am still fooling around and making stuff. I don't have any regrets.

But I can't deny that there is a little thrill associated with those little events that recognize that what I do may have some value to someone else. Today's sale of my donation to the Fiber Art for a Cause auction, that supports cancer research, is one such event. Won't you join me, for just a minute, in a big Woo Hoo!
Whew. That felt good! The younger, more ambitious me would have been pretty excited.

This is the quilt that I donated to Virginia Spiegel's Fiberart For a Cause Fundraiser. It sold today for a $675 donation to the American Cancer Society.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's Good to be Green

“It’s Good To Be Green” Exhibit
Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, Tillamook, Oregon
March 4 to May 4, 2008
Larkin Van Horn, Curator

Here's a detail of my quilt, "Green Thumb" that is part of this show. Today was the artist's reception at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook.

Larkin invited artists from all over the country to create a piece for this show. She called it her "dream team" and nearly all responded. I am so flattered to have been asked. I'm in very good company. Since Tillamook is a bit out of the way, teetering, as it does, at the far western edge of the continent, the only artists who were able to make it to the reception were those of us within easy driving distance—Larkin and her compatriots from Whidby Island, and the three of us from Portland.
June Underwood, Gerrie Congdon, Me and Larkin Van Horne
Behind us is work by Amy Ropple, Frieda Anderson and Scott Murkin
This is a beautiful show. The three pieces on the right side of the stage are so stunning together you would think they were made to go together. That's Larkin's on the left, Nancy Porter's in the center and Julie Duschack's on the right. The two pieces on the left side of the stage are by Kathy Lichtendahl, left, and Linda Schmidt, right.

Here is Gerrie looking at Susan Shie's piece. It is phenomenal—so much to see and read. My piece is to its right. On the other side are pieces by Jamie Fingal, Sarah Ann Smith, Lyric Kinard and way down at the end, Maggie Hunt. Larkin said she put all the pieces with people in them on this wall.

This is a closeup of the shoes on Jamie Fingal's Girl Scout. We all agreed that if these shoes really existed we wanted a pair!

Jeri Riggs' piece in the foreground, visitors entering the Latimer in the background.

What a wonderful show Larkin has put together. This is but a taste. If you are on the Oregon Coast between now and May 4, be sure you stop by. If you can't make it, you're in luck! Larkin and her talented husband, Van, have put together a CD of the whole show which you can purchase for the very reasonable price of $15. Purchase it here.
You can see more on Gerrie's blog, including a shot of Ray hanging out with the husbands. I think he and Jerry Underwood had a good time thinking up names for the Gerrie, Terry, June, Portland trio. They seem to have a similar sense of humor—it's good fun for the long-suffering loyal spouses who have been to a lot of quilt show receptions!
Thanks for including me, Larkin!