Saturday, February 27, 2010

Getting it all together

Yesterday Reva asked me, in blog comments, whether the Quilting Arts TV people had told me what to wear for the taping. The answer is yes, they did. Solid, button-front shirt that can have a mic clipped to the neckline somewhere. Nothing red, black or white. And the comment that "the camera loves blue." I need three. One for each segment. Oh, and most of my current wardrobe is red, black or white, so this took a little thought and a little shopping. It was good. These are the kind of shirts I like to wear anyway, and I needed some new colors. I already had the dark blue in the back. I found the turquoise one several weeks ago and yesterday I went out looking for orange. I found orange, but I didn't like it. Solid orange is a bit much and reminded me of Halloween. I think I need an orange print, but not for this occasion. Pickin's were slim, but I found the purple at my final, if-I-don't-find-something-here-I'm-goin'-home, stop. I don't think I have ever owned anything in quite this shade of purple, but I think I love it. All will be paired with the gray pants on the hanger. So, wardrobe-wise I'm set. My daughter stopped by this afternoon and gave my choices her seal of approval. That reassured me. She has great taste and no tolerance for clothing silliness.

Barbara asked if she would be able to see the shows after they are taped. The shows are shown on PBS stations around the country, but not in all areas. It isn't shown here in the Portland area, sadly. You can look at the QATV web site and check to see if it is shown in your area. Looks like Barbara is in luck. It is shown in the Washington DC area. You can also buy DVDs of the shows.

I have all the "step-outs" finished now and everything I think I will need packed up and ready to go. All those wires poking out of the plastic box are bird legs in various stages. Do you think the TSA will think they are bomb parts?

Oh, this is good!

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rainy, rainy

This is the view out my front door this morning. It has been raining all night and things just look soggy and drippy and cold out there, so we wimped out of our walk this morning. Normally we walk, rain or shine, but it sure feels good to stay in this morning. Besides it's Friday and we haven't missed a day this week until now. Even with all this rain it seems so Spring-like. I keep seeing Blogging and Facebook friends photos of piles of snow and I feel lucky for the rain and the flowers.
Yesterday on our walk we noticed that the Parks people had been out trimming trees and they hadn't yet been back to gather up their trimmings. Some of them were flowering trees with tight little buds, so we each gathered a few cut branches and brought them home. I put mine in water when I got home yesterday and by afternoon the buds were starting to open.
This is what I'm working on today. I am going to Cleveland, Ohio next week to tape three segments for Quilting Arts TV. One of the things I will be demostrating is making one of my little stuffed birds. So I am making multiples of one bird in different stages of completion to use. I don't think it's any secret that it is done this way. It is like the cooking demo on Martha where she and the guest (let's say Carrie Underwood)  start putting something together, then they switch out one pan of raw onions for one of nicely carmelized onions, then, voila!, the oven door is opened and out comes a fully cooked pork tenderloin smothered in carmelized onions and the studio audience bursts into wild applause! OK, this will be something like that, but with Pokey Bolton, instead of Martha and me instead of Carrie Underwood and no studio audience. Yeah, you're right—it will be nothing like Martha, but everyone who has done this assures me that it is a really fun experience and everyone, especially Pokey, is just great. I'm looking forward to it. Then after the TV stuff is finished, Ray and I will go visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and find out what Cleveland is all about.

So, enough procrastinating on the internet. I have bird parts to make. If I finish later I think I'll go shop for an orange shirt to wear to Cleveland.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"The man your man could smell like"

Have you seen that Old Spice Commercial? It is incredibly funny to me and brilliantly made by local Portland ad wizards Wieden + Kennedy. I loved seeing how it was made. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Orange again

I couldn't stop with the orange photos. I didn't realize I had so much orange in my house. Del said she loves orange and buys orange clothes when she can find them. That got me thinking. You don't often find orange clothing for sale. I think I would love to have an orange shirt. I have one that is pale orange and it is too close to the color of my skin to look like much on me. I was disappointed in it. It is all cotton. Maybe I should dye it a darker orange.

Rayna said orange is an energy color and she believes we crave certain colors at certain times just like we crave certain foods. I certainly believe that. It has been my theory that we crave colors, and then sometimes we gorge on them until they no longer "taste" good and we crave something a bit opposite. I think that is a partial explanation for why color trends seem to go in waves and for several seasons we see certain colors that make us feel good and then suddenly they seem old and tired and something altogether different takes over our craving. It will always be a mystery to me, however, why so many people apparently craved this dusty rose color en masse at one time. Anyway, I seem to be craving orange right now. It doesn't just look warm or happy to me, it feels rich and satisfying.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I am loving the color orange right now. Maybe it is the need, after lots of rain and fog and misty colors of winter, for something warm. Or maybe it is something else, unknowable, but it is a color that just does it for me right now. It sings a deep and passionate song.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Middle of the night

I was awake in the middle of the night last night, which is not uncommon. It seems like I rarely, if ever, anymore, sleep right through the night. Usually it is because I am a) too hot because we sleep under a down comforter that I really have a love/hate relationship with or b) I am cold because 45 minutes before I was too hot and tossed the down comforter off. It is a constant series of readjustments all night long because probably it is actually the case that my internal thermostat is shot. It has had a workout over the past few years.  Usually I can perform the covers on/covers off maneuver and go back to sleep. Sometimes I can't. Last night I couldn't, so when I can't easily get back to sleep I toss for awhile and design quilts in my head. This was the image I saw in the middle of the night. I drew it this morning. Actually I concocted a series of woven forms in my head.

This did not come out of nowhere. I have had this desire to work on something simpler and more graphic. I love stripes and curves. It was in the middle of the night that the idea of woven stripes came to me. I painted it just to play with color. This may be as far as this idea goes, or I may actually use it for a fabric piece. It could be nearly any size it seems to me. Big might work really well.

After I painted it I wondered what other color schemes would look like. I scanned it and fiddled in Photoshop. Boy, do I love Photoshop. I actually quite like this very neutrally, cool approach. Very uncharacteristic. Maybe I am headed down a whole new path. Or maybe a new path will open up in the middle of the night some night.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And so it goes, etc.

I was scratching my own head about that post I wrote about blogging and the New York Times article a couple days ago. What the heck was I thinking about? Turns out that my blogging friend, Barbara, had written about the New York Times article and her reaction to it, which was startling similar to mine, but what I think happened is that I started reading her blog entry, got as far as the link, followed it and never got back to Barbara's blog. I got so absorbed by the article and went into my own reaction and never got the rest of her take on it. Then later, when I started reading the comments I realized that people weren't reading what I thought I was saying. But Barbara knew and so did Reva and June. If you didn't read June's priceless comment you ought to go back and read it. Or maybe it just meant something to me, but I swear it's the best blog comment I've ever gotten. Perspective. That was all I was trying to say. Blogs are what they are. Blog friends—wonderful people mostly, but we only sort of know them, really. Real life is where we actually live. Let's not get carried away. Moving on . . .

I am loving the iPhone. Loved all the comments. Several people said, "now you are one of us!" I didn't know iPhone users were an "us". Hope I know how to act, dress, whatever. I have a few apps that amuse me. I really like the level. Works just like a carpenter's level with the bubble that you center. Handy for hanging pictures. I'm pretty impressed with the camera. Who knew? My old phone camera was basically useless. Here's a picture I took of some daffodils blooming in my yard.  Can you believe daffodils are blooming in February? We planted hundreds, literally, of daffodil bulbs last fall. They were a mixed assortment and it seems the teeny, miniature ones are the early bloomers. The bigger ones are looking close to blooming.

Here's a more challenging test of the iPhone camera. I took this picture of my son, Andy, this evening, in the house, with low light and no flash. Pretty good, eh? He came over today and helped Ray do a bunch of digging and preparation of pathways in the yard. It is looking pretty great out there. I fed him dinner, then took his picture. Look at that grey hair on his head. I love it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wherein I show my true colors

I'm a hypocrite. Look what I got today.  It's an iPhone. I didn't need one. I told everyone that. Just didn't need one. I did, however, need a new phone. My old one was acting really hinky. It didn't ring when I was in my house. It didn't show me that anyone had called. Sometimes it accepted voice mail, sometimes not. So I did need a new phone, but I sure didn't need an iPhone. Then I went to the phone store and they were so tempting and so pretty and really not that expensive. So look what I got.

Ray has had one for several months and here is where I am going to be a hypocrite again. I'm going to tell a story about Ray, just like I said in yesterday's post that I wasn't going to do.  He just loves his iPhone and every time you look at him he is engrossed in it reading email, sending email, looking at youTube videos, etc, etc.  One day we went out to run some errands. I was driving, he was playing with getting some work done on his iPhone. We decided to stop someplace for lunch and I suggested a new restaurant I had seen in my travels around town. So we went and had a delicious lunch and I went to the restroom afterward and I had to stand out in the hall for awhile and wait to get into the restroom.

When I came out we walked out to the car and I noticed that Ray was sort of looking around pretty intently. I said, "you don't have any idea where we are, do you?"  Nope. When we drove there he was so engrossed in his phone that he had paid no attention to where I was driving, or even which direction or how long it took us to get there. He said, "When you didn't come right back from the restroom I started to get worried because I realized that if you were passed out in there, and I had to call 911, I wouldn't have any idea where to tell them to find us."

That, my friends, is the power of the iPhone. And now I have one.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blog vs. Life

I am working away on the huge quilt that I am making for an invitational show. I am not even guaranteed of it getting into the show and I am more than uncertain about how it is working out, but I am keeping on. It is giving me time to think.

I read this article in the NY Times magazine this morning. It isn't new, but I just came across it, probably linked from someone else's blog—I forget how I got there. Anyway, it is by a young woman who tells the story of how she wrote a blog about her personal life, which led to a job at Gawker, a gossipy commercial blog. She talks about her tendency for "over-sharing," about how it cost her relationships and changed her life, not so much for the better. It was pretty depressing actually and while I don't really relate or see that my blogging is much like hers, it got me thinking. Especially about relationships.

She talked about the people who read her blog:
"Some of my blog’s readers were my friends in real life, and even the ones who weren’t acted like friends when they posted comments or sent me e-mail. They criticized me sometimes, but kindly, the way you chide someone you know well. Some of them had blogs, too, and I read those and left my own comments. As nerdy and one-dimensional as my relationships with these people were, they were important to me. They made me feel like a part of some kind of community, and that made the giant city I lived in seem smaller and more manageable." It's like that. The people who read and comment do become important. And that is what I have been thinking about.

It is easy to begin to feel like people who comment on your blog and you on theirs are real friends. But that's too simple, really. They know you as you want them to know you. They don't know your annoying habits, or foul moods or occasionally careless ways. Nor do you know theirs. They are much easier friends than the ones you actually interact with in real life. Not that they couldn't be real friends. But it is seductive to think they already are. And useful.

I have to remind myself of this. Blog commenters will most often tell you what you want to hear. That's always good for the ego, but it also lets you live in denial. You post a new piece of artwork and ask, "do you like it? Should I change anything?" Maybe one or two will give you something constructive, the rest will stroke your ego and make you feel invincible. Worse, you can blog about a gripe, someone who slighted you, someone who disagreed with you and get all the support and agreement you would ever want. Problem is, yours is the only side of the story they hear and they are "friends"—eager to make you feel better, or superior or smarter. It's something I observe on blogs a lot and I'm not proud to admit I've taken advantage of that myself on occasion.

In the article I read, the author talked about damaging her real-life relationships by telling stories about people in her life, revealing things they believed were shared in confidence, exposing their privacy. Reading this really did give me pause. I talk about my friends, my family. I hope I don't embarrass them or make them uncomfortable, but it could happen. I have removed posts written thoughtlessly and felt bad about what I revealed about someone else. I don't post pictures of my granddaughter anymore. Her mother wasn't comfortable with that, and while I told myself I was posting for out-of-town family to be able to keep up with her I also enjoyed having strangers tell me how cute she was. Reality check. There are some things I don't need to share with the world at large.

I have written here about the positive things that have come to me because of my blog and I sincerely believe in those things. I probably won't change much about what I am doing, but I think I may change some things about how I am thinking. I need to keep a clear distinction between my blog and my life and my online friends and my real life friends. I have to keep a perspective on the relative unimportance of what my blog means. I have seen bloggers refer to their readers and commenters as their "fans." Heaven help us all if we bloggers begin to see ourselves as having fans. Ayyyyyy. That just really makes me cringe.

And that's what I've been thinking about as I fuse scraps of fabric this fine sunshine-y day.

February sunshine

When I woke up this morning I felt bad about last night's blog entry and thought I should probably delete it. Then I saw how many people seemed to identify and commented to that effect. In addition to the comments left on the blog I got three private emails that said, essentially, "I can't comment on your blog because there are people who read your blog who will know that I am talking about them..." and went on to tell me about who was making them crazy in their own groups. So, OK! I'm not the only occasionally antisocial crab out there.

It would have been hard to be crabby today. The sun shone all day long and it was simply glorious. This is not the February I have grown accustomed to. We moved to Portland in February of 1993 and I did not see the sun once during that February. I was not happy to be here. This morning we walked in sunshine. We saw bunnies. Seriously! Bunnies. The pink monkeys, who are still there by the way, had gotten very soggy and bedraggled, but they were dry and perky-looking today. We still don't know the story and are kind of amazed that they have stayed there this long. I told Beth about last night's meeting and we found some humor in the whole thing today. What I left out of my meeting report last night was that we meet at a church and we sometimes get to meet in their very nice conference room, but because there was a big Shrove Tuesday event last night we had to meet in a little Sunday School room next to the bathroom in a different part of the building. The walls are thin and everytime someone used the adjoining bathroom our meeting was interrupted by a startlingly loud PAWHOOOOM! as the toilet flushed, followed by a deep, shuddering groan in the plumbing. At first we were alarmed, then bemused, then it got to be funny—something had to be.

Gracie enjoyed the sun today, and even roused herself to follow me around the yard for awhile. I am wondering how much longer she will be with us. She seems to be shrinking. Ray, who feeds her, says she doesn't eat a lot these days. And she looks kind of hunched to me. She has survived many years longer than her brothers Oliver, who lived with us, and Prozac who was Andy's cat. Both Oliver and Prozac were much more beautiful, affectionate, intelligent and endearing cats than Grace, but she has grown on us. She loves to be outdoors and I expect winters are pretty long and boring for her. I'm glad she has had some sunshine to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Warning: This might be a rant.

I think I am getting old or something. I kind of hate going out at night anymore. Especially when I have to drive for 45 minutes to get to where I am going. My trip home, not quite so long, since it was no longer rush hour, seemed  incredibly long enough and when I pulled into my driveway and saw my own front door I almost cried with relief. Tonight it was a meeting of an art quilt group I have belonged to forever, but somehow I always feel just a little at odds with. At one point, as one of the members was showing a very serious and well-meaning and full-of-meaning piece, she picked up a sheet of paper and started reading a long quote about people dying on doorsteps and man's inhumanity to man and the deep and powerful lessons of her quilt, I really, really wanted to stick out my tongue, pantomime being strangled by a rope and collapse out of my chair onto the floor. Of course I am far too polite to do any such thing.
I am also so polite that I apologize when someone else should have, and I bite my tongue and resent.  (Long story, too stupid to repeat.) Anyway, my own front door and my porch light was about the best thing I have seen all evening. I went inside, poured a glass of wine and visited with Ray, who I hadn't seen since the crack of dawn, about his day. He started a new consulting job today and it is good. I reported on my day with our granddaughter which was perfect. We talked about theater tickets. My mood began to dissolve away. I was reminded of a time, so many years ago, when my son was a teenager. He had a date with a very pretty, but very demanding young suburban princess. To our surprise he rolled in about 10 o'clock. I asked why he was home so early. He said, "I decided I'd rather be with people who are nice to me."  I also remembered a friend who once told me, "It doesn't matter where you go, there is someone there waiting to make you crazy."
Sometimes it so good just to come home.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweet valentines

Valentine's Day is kind of a silly holiday when you get right down to it. Proving your love with a gift on one day of the year is not proof at all. But of course I'm not about to turn down flowers or candy! I guess what I really mean to say is that expressing love is nice any old day and it doesn't need to involve a gift. But lucky me, I got a beautiful  bowl planter planted with primroses and bulbs and gorgeous things to give the front porch a touch of spring even though it's still February. I got a pretty little heart-shaped dish. And then I got that card, handmade by my granddaughter with her Mom's help. Now that is worth having a holiday for. Just look at that little handprint. There is a crayon drawing inside that she told me is a "muffin" and even better was her pride and pleasure in presenting both Ray and me with her special valentine creations.

Valentine's Day really is great fun for kids and I think they do learn how satisfying it is to do something special for people you love. I remember how I loved making valentines as a child, giving each one a special touch just for the person it was going to. Even children who do not make their own valentines, I think take pride and pleasure in picking out special cards and giving them. Maybe it teaches generosity and a loving spirit. Maybe it's not a silly holiday after all.

It was beautiful day today. My lovely new porch pot made all the other pots on the porch look pretty scraggly, so I picked up a flat of primroses at the grocery store to plant. Just look at that pot in the corner. Disgraceful! Gracie was enjoying the sun and the flowers, I think. She is nearly 18 years old. She moves slowly and her voice, never very melodious, is really crackly now, but she still gets around the yard and finds the sun. Later I planted the primroses, cleaned up the pots and swept the porch. A little frog hopped across the porch as I was working. It really felt like spring is coming.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be My Valentine

My valentines are going out late again this year. The reason I started sending valentines instead of Christmas cards is that I just couldn't get them out before Christmas. Maybe I will start sending Easter cards, now instead of valentines. Ha!

I have been getting all the parts ready and will fold and stuff letters and cards into envelopes tonight while we watch the Olympics or whatever else looks good on TV. So if you are waiting for my valentine, you can expect it next week some time. Sorry. But you know I love you, don't you?

I used a heart design I have used before and updated it. The colors are not so typical for Valentine's Day, but I like that. Those are beads along the top and bottom edges. I love valentines. I love hearts. I send a letter along with my valentines. It is like other peoples' Christmas letters. Boring to some, no doubt, but since this is the only communication I have with some people I like to keep them updated. I thought about adding a picture of Ray and me to the letter, but couldn't find a good one and we were not in the mood to take one today, so I went outside and took a picture of our front door. Just as I was getting ready to snap the picture Grace settled herself in front of the door. I liked that. Then I fiddled with it in Photoshop to give it a more hand-drawn appearance and plopped it into the letter. I hope it says, "Come and see us—you are always welcome."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Today's walk included a detour through the Greenway neighborhood, which runs alongside the park where we walk. There are a lot of connecting paths to the street for neighborhood access, so we can easily duck in and out of the neighborhood for a change of scene. We walk along and get landscaping ideas or critique the garden ornaments we see or admire what folks have done in their yards. On a gloomy, rainy day in February, what a treat to see this bunch of tiny irises growing at a street corner. It was about the only blooming color out there.

I enjoyed seeing what someone had done with logs in their yard. Doesn't this finish that corner nicely? The changes in levels and the nice tight grouping really appealed to me. Maybe it was because after last week's tree cutting at our place we have a yard full of log rounds. Hmmmm. Raw material.
Isn't it interesting to see the colors that people choose to paint their houses? Some are so drab and neutral that they just cry out for a little color—"please paint me!" Woodsy colors are popular here. Our house is pale yellow and I am longing to paint it something richer, woodsier, cosier, but with a jazzy door color of some kind. And I ask you, why does that orange and blue combo seem so utterly dreadful in the suburbs of Oregon? I saw that same color scheme in Oaxaca, Mexico a couple years ago and took a picture because I thought it was so fabulous! Just goes to show you that context is everything.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Take a walk

It is so good for stress. Both the walk and the girlfriend energy are the best way I know of starting a busy day. I love walking with my friends. We're old ladies, really, but we think of ourselves as "girlfriends."  We chatter like we did in fourth grade as we walk.

It was very foggy this morning, which makes it kind of creepy cold, but it is silent and mysterious and beautiful in its own way.  Most of our walk is through Greenway Park in Beaverton. It's a nice trail and offers some side trips, some wildlife and we have yet to walk to the end of the trail. I don't know how far it goes.
This morning we happened upon something interesting. Along the side of the trail where there are some thick woods, someone had created a web of blue cording strung between branches of the trees. "Climbing" through the web were two stuffed toy monkeys, posed as if they were playing in the trees. Securely taped to the cording, next to the path was a note, enclosed in clear tape.

Who was this message for? A regular visitor to the park? Children? Estranged friends? A girlfriend/boyfriend, ex-whatever? "I still love you." Hopeful. Mysterious. It makes me want to know the story, but I probably never will.

And another web. Not so myserious, but quite beautiful with its beads of dew.
After the walk I came home and worked all day in the studio. I'm glad so many of you liked my little tutorial. It's a good trick. I am speeding through things and later when I looked at that piece with the viney little plant in the pot I could see my tension in it. Tight, controlled, just really too, too controlled. I tried to loosen up today and I think I succeeded. It is good to have work to do, but not good to be pushing it so hard.





I'll be back out there again tomorrow morning.


Hey, did you notice the new page links at the top of this page? This is a new Blogger feature and I love it. I have been thinking and thinking about building a web site for my artwork, in addition to this blog, but the thought alone was a little tiring. This just might suffice instead. I have added two new pages. These were done quickly and I plan to put more time and energy into them when other things ease up a bit, but take a look and let me know what you think.

By the way, I just noticed that this is post #888. Inconceivable!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Vine

Christine asked how I made the vine on the heart piece. I'm glad she asked! It is cut from black fabric and fused and I figured out a pretty neat way to do it, so I thought I'd show you with another little piece I was working on today

I started out by sketching my vine design on a piece of freezer paper. You know about freezer paper, right? Yes, the stuff you wrap hamburger in to go in the freezer. It has been used by quilters for years now because of its very handy ability to adhere to fabric temporarily. It has a shiny side and a dull side. The shiny side is coated with plastic. When you lay a piece of freezer paper, shiny side down on a piece of fabric and iron with a hot iron the plastic melts just enough to stick to the fabric, but not enough to permanently adhere. When you want to remove it, the paper peels easily and cleanly from the fabric, leaving no residue. Very handy stuff!
So, here's my design, drawn on the dull side of a piece of freezer paper. You can probably see that I first sketched it with pencil and then used a black marker to outline it. The drawing doesn't have to be very polished or even perfect. You can see that I changed my mind about the tiny leaf about halfway down the stem and turned it into a curled tendril.

Once I had my design I ironed the freezer paper onto a piece of dark brown cotton fabric.

Then I put the piece, face down on my light box. You can see that the design shows through to the back side of the fabric. I outlined the design with Liquid Thread fusing liquid that I diluted slightly with a little water. Then I took the piece to my ironing board, covered it, Liquid Thread side up, with a teflon ironing sheet and pressed it with a hot iron until the fusing adhesive melted into the fabric. I let it cool for a few seconds, then peeled the ironing sheet off. You can see the shiny adhesive left on the fabric.
Now, I must tell you at this point, that instead of using the Liquid Thread you could, instead, use a fusible web, like Wonder Under, on the back of the fabric instead. I prefer the fusing liquid because it really melts into the fabric and seals the woven threads, so there is no fraying of the edges. I think it does this better than other fusibles. Just my opinion.

The next step was to cut out the design, leaving the freezer paper attached to the fabric. The freezer paper keeps the cut out vine somewhat stiff and stabilizes it until you can get it fused down.

I then fused my cut out vine to my background by laying it on the background fabric and ironing it. That remelts the line of fusing material and bonds the two fabrics together. I carefully peeled the paper off and then pressed the vine again good to fuse it tightly to the background. If you peel the paper off carefully you can use the design again, which I did to make several duplicates.
And finally, the finished piece. This will be a sample for one of the techniques that I will be demonstrating for the TV taping. Finished size is about 10.5" x 8.5".

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Art happening

Wow. I am really busy right now. I have seen it coming for a couple of months and now everything is due at once it seems. Deadlines. There are deadlines for my parts of the Twelve by Twelve book, deadlines for quilts that are promised for shows, and here is some news that I haven't shared here yet—I am going to tape two segments for Quilting Arts TV next month in Cleveland. I will be demonstrating two different projects/techniques and I need to put together samples in different stages that I can work with. Life has its own deadlines as well. Valentine's Day is when I send cards and letters, instead of Christmas, so I need to create the image for the cards and write the letters. Blah, blah, blah. I know—this is boring. Everybody is busy. The thing is, I like to share what I am working on here on the blog and not all of it can be shown. After all, I want you to buy the book and watch the TV shows, not see it all here first!

I occurred to me this week that if there was a way to make one thing work for at least two purposes that would help. Above you can see my Valentine image that I am working away on. I think it is going to help me out on a couple more projects as well.


A couple days ago when I showed Jane Davila's new book, Barbara left a comment asking if it was a book that a beginner could easily work with. It is a book of techniques and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. For beginners I would tell you that techniques are only part, and the least important part, of what you want to learn. Fortunately, Jane's first book, written with Elin Waterston and titled Art Quilt Workshop, is a great place to start. It has great information about design principles and color and basic techniques, with exercises to practice. There is a wonderful preview of this book available online here. With this book, and her new book you can definitely get started. Then you may want to move on to even more fun stuff and get Rayna's book! You know there is no end to it.

Cutting down trees in the rain

A bunch of guys arrived this morning while I was out walking and spent the rest of the day at our house cutting down trees in the rain. Three trees actually. Plus, they trimmed off excess branches from other trees and performed major surgery on a very sick (well, dying) tree.

I kept watching them off and on all day. Cutting trees is dangerous. They climb up and throw ropes over the branches that get cut first and tie ropes from neighboring trees to hold and direct the falling branches and chunks. As they fall they swing crazily and crash into trunks and other branches. And all the time the rain is steadily coming down. This is not serious logging but it made me think of Sometimes a Great Notion and crazy men who wield chainsaws with one hand while hanging off the sides of great trees.

The significance of this tree cutting is that we are clearing a spot on which to build the studio and greenhouse. This is part of the "grand scheme" of moving out here and remodeling that didn't happen on schedule because the stupid economy tanked and the stupid stock market plummeted and the stupid real estate market crashed and the old house didn't sell and we stupidly got caught in the middle of a stupid mess. (Am I bitter? Trying hard not to be. Could be worse, I keep telling myself.) Anyway, we viewed it not as a cancellation, just a deferral and now I think we are cautiously ready to get started on this next project. The trees were the first step.

So, as long as this crew was coming to take out those three trees we had them trim up some of the other trees and then there was that bad tree next to the creek that was looking mostly dead and the tree guy said was probably going to cause some problems if not addressed. He said it was likely to "take out your nice little bridge one of these days." That didn't sound so good. The final decision was not to cut it down, but to remove the bad top and leave the trunk and some of the intact limbs for bird habitat. You can see it in the last picture with the top cut off. I asked the guy what will happen to it now and he said, "oh, it will fall down someday." Then when he saw my alarm he added, " a long, long time from now."

Late in the afternoon as they were hauling all the fallen branches out to the street to toss into the chipper, the rain stopped and the sun came pouring in through the front window. The light has changed. I walked out to see how it all looked—trees cut into sections and piled into three neat piles, a light coating of sawdust covers the muddy ground. As they climbed into their huge truck I heard one of them say, "Well, that was a good day." Then he gestured toward a scrawny Ash tree that grows up through the power lines. "They shoulda' had us take that one down too."

Monday, February 01, 2010

Good mail and more on the fabric mosaic

I got a box from Jane Davila a couple days ago, containing a copy of her new book and my artwork that she used in the gallery section of the book. Jane is one of the hardest working artists I know. This is her third book, she blogs, she has an online business, she teaches and she makes art! She has used my work in her last two books and she has been a joy to work with. She's another of the longtime online friends I finally had a chance to meet awhile back. She is from Connecticut, but turns out her brother lives just up the hill from me. It is such a small world!

Anyway, Jane's book is terrific! It is filled with how-to's for all kinds of surface design work on fabric and/or paper. The format is unusual and so practical. It is a smallish size with a coil binding, covered by a nice outer cover. This makes it possible to open it up and have it lay flat, so you can work with it at your side for reference. This is the kind of book you will keep and use for years and years. I'm so happy to have two of my pieces shown as examples. My portrait of my grandmother Hazle uses pastel pencils to create the shading in the face and clothing, and the crow piece uses fabrics I stamped, using my own stamp designs.


After I posted my progress on a new quilt a few days ago, Lisa left a comment asking for more information about the technique I was using. As I mentioned, I got the idea for this kind of fabric collage/mosaic from Terri Stegmiller's blog. I don't know how Terri is doing it, but I can describe my interpretation of the technique.

I started by cutting swatches of a whole assortment of brown fabrics. I pressed them, using spray starch, which gives them a little more body and helps to keep them from fraying badly, then I cut a whole pile of odd-shaped pieces—mostly triangles and parallelograms. I used my liquid fusing technique on each piece and starting laying them on the felt that I am using as the batting for this piece. I butted and overlapped to completely cover the felt. I lay down a section at a time and then use my small iron to fuse that section, then move on to the next section. In the picture below you can see my tools and materials: tray full of cut pieces, scissors, bottle of fusing liquid and little Clover brand mini iron.