Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category

how long did that take you?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
collage images of DM10

collage images of DM10

There are two very predictable comments made to any person who works with cloth and thread: My grandmother was a quilter and how long did that take you to make that?

Today as I finished stitching #10 in the collaborative series Defining Moments I was reminded of the latter. I was reminded when the stitching of the windows took me 90 minutes while the entire building, sky and sun took nearly 3 hours.

A friend and I had a long conversation about this during her stint in Open Studios last year. She said folks would look at her work, then the price and immediately ask ‘how long did that take you?’

We know that in this society people affix value to something based on its hourly rate. To them it is a dollar per hour equation whereas for most of us who work in cloth it is often a per square foot price. She and I laughed about how we could divide the price we are asking for our work by a number below the minimum wage and use that number as our hours the piece actually took us to make. So when asked this redundant question, we could answer something like 900 hours!

pre- and post-stitch windows

pre- and post-stitch windows

While rethinking an answer to this most common¬†question I am reminded though of¬†all the actual hours that go into a large piece of my work. There are the hours spent in research which for this series has been many; hours spent in the design of the ‘cartoon,’ the hours considering¬†the best materials to use, the hours spent creating the exact fabric to convey my design, let alone if I have to go shopping for same. Then there are hours of thinking about it while out walking, REM hours and sleepless nights problem solving,¬†and never forget the hours of procrastination when I¬†really should be working on it, but would rather play Mahjong on the computer. And then there is the actual construction sewing and stitching!

Someone once said the best answer to how long did it take you to make that¬†is to state my age at that moment; for it took my entire lifetime up till now to conceive and create this work. Actually I think that idea goes over most people’s head so I prefer to just say, oh about 900 hours!

on getting out of my own way…

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

TG Series clothI have spent most of this day fighting the voice that tells me I must go downstairs (to the cold basement) and create two new thermofax screens to print cloth for #11. This sense of urgency is based on two things; that #10 is nearly¬†completely stitched and with 15 more to go, time is a wastin’. Even with all the self awareness work I have done I still seem to occasionally believe that old family mantra that procrastination = laziness. Unbelievable!

Way back last year though I began to see procrastination = process & fermentation so why should I feel the least bit poorly that I am not interested in making those screens right this minute, or worse yet applying them immediately to cloth? After all it is just January 5 and I have 361 more days thanks to Leap Year to make those 15 pieces, or at least ten of them.

So utilizing the best excuse possible of a¬†cold basement on a rainy winter’s day I chose to stay upstairs and stitch more of #10. I put on some Bach and stitched for quite some time. I accomplished a lot not the least of which was I got out of my head. It¬†occurred to me that the real reason I had not wanted to go make the screens and use them was I was not yet content with¬†my choice of fabrics for this piece. I had pinned some¬†choices to the design wall, based entirely on the available length of the fabrics. Today it came¬†to me that I could use instead other fabric I had not even considered; fabric that makes total and complete sense. For the theme of #11 is what I hope will be the last time I tell in cloth the story of my shortening surgeries.

The new cloth for #11 is already printed with imagery. It is a piece from the very beginning of my work on the TallGirl Series. It is printed with tall girl tales for¬†which I had changed the font so the stories were illegible. It was designed a decade ago when I’d just begun to find my voice, but still was fearful of the repercussion¬†of doing so. How totally¬†appropriate and relevant to use cloth from the project conception¬†to put closure on it today.

Thanks be to Johann for the clarity! We must visit more often.


…on documentation and dawgs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

hand-dyes from Soderlund class

A few years ago I added an important¬†form of documentation to the categorization of my work. I put together a 3″ thick binder, in chronological order, of all the work I have made since 1998. Initially resistant to the idea as I already have a website and hardcopy portfolio; the reasoning behind this was posterity. So when archaeologists are digging through my house in 2500 they will know why I made this work and what it entailed. Yea, I know, a big stretch. ¬†All the same it is good information to have especially laid out in chronological order.

So I was a tad¬†astonished today, while looking¬†at my documentation¬†binder to find¬†a¬†small work finished since 2013 to enter in the local arts center member show, that I only had two pieces that qualified and one of them I showed there last year. The remaining piece is the other half of the diptych and even though looks slightly different I am certain there would be outrage that I showed the ‘same work’ there two years in a row!

I was also surprised¬†that in 2015 I have completed just four large pieces of work. Throwback to 2009 when I made over 60 pieces in one year. It seems I have slowed down a bit in the past 6 years! Of course I have all kinds of reasonable excuses; both knees replaced, my father’s death, and a year plus of chronic debilitation, so that is understandable. I also have been engrossed in the 3 year collaboration, so the four pieces I made this year were for that. And there are all big ones!

It really is somewhat of a personal accomplishment that I have slowed down production so much. I’d been so prolific in the past in comparison. Maybe just maybe I am living life more presently¬†and making art differently as well. Before my work was fairly spontaneous whereas now it requires a lot of research and introspection before even drafting the design.

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

And then there are the additional procrastination modes: the¬†aforementioned rescue pooch who is both delight and terror barks at anything that stands still, or in hubs’ case exhales. My days are full of interruptions to calm the dog, to work towards ending her fear aggression. It is exhausting and yet somehow I get the message that maybe this is the point. The point is to get me to stop, breathe, stay in the moment, and chill.

And by¬†default I am the tech guru in the family. So a new modem-router threw everything connected to it out of whack. I have managed to reconfigure a few things but still have daily technology reconfiguration headaches. I’d much prefer to sit back with my crazy pooch and toss bonbons than try to reprogram the solar panel connector or the Netflix device that won’t allow me to sign in.

In a perfect world someone would come in with a magic wand, make everything work and calm the dog in their wake. Yea…and I believe in the tooth fairy too.

odds and other things…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
vintage postage stamp birthday block

vintage postage stamp birthday block


This month other than the collaboration it has been a bit of odds n’ ends…

I have finished #8, which I have yet to photograph, in the 25 pc collaboration and am in process of designing #9. I am loving this series so much as it continually challenges me in how to express each particular idea. I don’t draw or sketch well, but Google images can often give me a profile or shape from which to start. And I have a spreadsheet of ideas to incorporate in each one which helps with flow and continuity.

This spring I contributed a 12″ square piece titled Keeping Up Appearances #8 to an annual fundraiser for SAQA. As part of their marketing for the benefit auction different artists choose ‘dream collections’ and mine came up today in the fourth grouping. This piece was designed from a vintage embroidered cotton hand towel.

Keeping Up Appearances #8

Keeping Up Appearances #8

Also this week¬†I made¬†a 6″ x 6″ stitched block for a colleague who is turning 70 in October. She wants a collection of blocks from friends that reflect her interests. She¬†plans to stitch the¬†blocks together for a big quilt. On her long list of interests was postage stamps. Ironically in the big pile of stuff I amassed from my mother’s things to use in the collaboration were some vintage postage stamps! So I scanned the stamps, collaged in PhotoShop, printed to fabric, made a sandwich, stitched, cut and mailed it off. Voila‚Ķthe image is above.

painted canvas bags for fundraiser

painted canvas bags for fundraiser

And I painted canvas tote bags for an October fundraiser at the Arts Guild of Sonoma. I painted the bags with Dyna-flow and then screen-printed text with Lumiere. They came out fine although not 100% clarity but then I was screening through several layers of folded cloth so I am satisfied. And I am just thrilled to have them finished as I was running out of time. The bags will be on exhibit October 6-26.


studio purge…

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Like several of my friends I got bitten by the TIDY bug and have done my clothes, most of my office and now taking a quick break from the collaboration to do the studio. The most important thing to mention off the top is I do not like clutter so I’ve continually sorted the studio for years. That said, wow have I found a lot of clutter! ¬†I annually sort through all my fabric and donate anything that does not ring my bell. Fortunately the last several¬†years I have not bought much commercial fabric but have designed a lot of fabric which has filled in the space.

What I cannot part with are mostly journals. I have at least a dozen half-filled notebooks of various sizes where I took notes in a class, made notes on a trip, wrote daily gratitude for years, made sketches of garments I wanted to sew or knit, sketches of random scenery, quotes I wanted to remember, and just thoughts about life. They do not exactly spark joy and yet my adult life is contained within the pages. So they are simply going to a new shelf to be reunited.

"Louis Feraud's Fall '96 collection was "leaves" ad 200 sewing hours later this gown may represent the collections finest hour…" -THREADS April/May 1997

“Louis Feraud’s Fall ’96 collection was “leaves” ad 200 sewing hours later this gown may represent the collections finest hour‚Ķ” -THREADS April/May 1997

One of the things I found so entertaining though was the progression of the saved articles. Step 1: (30 years ago) for a decade I saved every issue of every sewing & knitting related magazine I received (monthly), with the idea that ‘someday’ I might want to refer back to them. Only after my husband complained about the weight on the shelf did I consider tossing them.

Step 2: (20 years ago) I diligently browsed through a decade of old magazines,¬†pulled the articles that most appealed to me (at that time) and put them on a shelf.¬†I bundled leftover magazines and put out on recycling day. The total amount was 7′ wide!

Step 3: (19 years ago) about a year later I decided to actually file said articles in a binder, so I invested in several boxes of plastic sleeves, sorted the articles into categories: sewing, knitting, design, quilting, etc and filed into a 4″ binder and put it on said shelf. Occasionally in the last decade I have leafed through the huge and heavy binder looking for just that perfect whatever I wanted to make. Most often I was looking for knitting ideas.

Step 4: today. I went through the binder and tossed everything I would never make nor read. When I finished I had a 3″ stack of empty plastic sleeves and just enough articles to put into a 1″ binder‚Ķlikely to be tossed in another future purge!

unemployed plastic sleeves

unemployed plastic sleeves

What amused me most is how much space, energy and time these old magazines took up in my life. How I never went back to read anything ¬†except a few knitting patterns and even then did not knit them. ¬†One good thing that came from the great magazine purge of 20 years ago, is every magazine I’ve read since I tore out what I wanted to keep while I was reading¬†and then tossed it into the recycling bin. I found I tore out far¬†less when I actually had to do something with it in the moment.

Fast forward to present time and nearly all articles we once clung to can now be found online, anyway.


daughter of the war bride, part tres…

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

I have long joked about being ‘the daughter of a war bride,’ which essentially I am. This explains why¬†for most women of my generation it is next to impossible to just throw something out without finding it a good home. This coincides with saving for a rainy day¬†which leads to today’s post.

Two friends have both taken to ‘tidying’ their homes based on the NY Times bestseller book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Ok, so I bought the book initially¬†on my Kindle but then figured this was to be a joint¬†project so I bought the hard copy. I am already struggling my way through it because (1) I don’t follow instructions well and (2) why should I read the entire book before starting the purge? ¬†My husband is terrified for other¬†reasons; the book is in the house; both friends who read the book and tidied up are now moving;¬†and¬†he may just have to let go of some of his own stuff¬†which he has been carrying around for nearly 7 decades.

So I decided, rebel that I am, to just start in today and tidy my office a bit. I was successful in that two bags went into recycling, another started for charity and another into the trash. But I also ran head-on into the daughter of the war bride. Remember her? The one who never buys just one of anything? Oy…many things come to mind but surely these are some of the best.

personalized CD labels and 100 pk of CDs

personalized CD labels and 100 pk of CDs

Mere hours before CDs went out of fashion, I ordered 100 personalized CD labels. I probably used 10 labels and then never sent a CD of images anywhere again. I could maybe wallpaper the bathroom with¬†these though; oh wait there is that ‘good home’ thing again!

The war bride’s daughter¬†also¬†ordered 500 of these gorgeous tri-fold brochures to send to art consultants. She sent maybe 222. The rest languish and might look really awesome lining the recycling can.



And don’t even get me started on the¬†Tall Girl¬†books. Wasn’t it enough that they were a limited edition, and out of print? No, someone at some museum¬†convinced me I should do another printing. So they too reside.

And lest not forget the Fedex Ground tracking labels. Apparently Fedex thought I was going to be shipping a lot, and I have but really, two rolls of 250 each? Actually the bathroom might be really original if I did a collage of CD and tracking labels.

So now I am tired of tidying, which is exactly what the book said would happen if I didn’t follow the directions! Oh what does she know?

just start…

Monday, May 12th, 2014

scraps-16If you ask any accomplished artist how to break through the procrastination and get going they will usually say something like...just start! Today after months of researching my ancestry till the 8th century when names were only consonants, sewing strips till covered in thread, designing screens in PhotoShop, trying to decide if I needed to dye some fabric for the first piece or if I had some in stash (I did), writing about the process on my blog, having a couple Skype conversations and various other interesting aspects of the project, I just started.

I was planning to just start last week but a combo of procrastination and jet lag forbid it. Then I was going to just start this weekend but jet lag and Chinese food met head on and took me out for a day…and not into the country either! ¬†So today I woke up early enough to get my walk in before the forecasted heat wave and was nearly set to hobble downstairs to just start with some discharging when I decided I really should make one more screen for this piece so off to Kinkos I went for the copy. While I was out I picked up a few groceries and the dry cleaning.

I came back ready to just start, gathered up my supplies to go downstairs where it is cooler‚Ķfurther enticement. In my arms were the roll of screening mesh which I now keep upstairs to interfere with vermin snacking on it; the two panels of cloth I want to discharge and paint with one distinctly marked so I knew which screen to use on it. I was very grateful¬†for my cleared¬†print table so set¬†some supplies on it before¬†I headed off for an adjacent room where my Thermofax machine patiently waits. I couldn’t¬†see¬†it though as all of hub’s ski clothes and ski luggage had been piled on top of it. WTH? I knew he would not do such a sacrilege thing but soon figured out the contractor must have when pulling wire for the new kitchen lighting. So once I rearranged the ski department I was able to just start on the screens. Three screens down and the carrier got stuck in the machine reminding me to pay attention to what I was doing.

So I pulled up a stool and put together the six new screens, then opened a new bottle of dishwashing gel and just started in. The first piece instantly proved to be stunning. So inspired I quickly moved on to the second piece noting the aforementioned mark that required a different screen. It also came out beautifully but it was not until they were hanging side by side, drying over the boxes of pots and pans on the basement floor, did I realize I screen-printed the 2nd one upside down! I had laid the cloth on the design wall to make an interesting composition and here in one fell swoop just made it average.

The important part though is this piece is all about the message. ¬†It is not so much about the messenger. ¬†And while I anticipate it to be an interesting and moving start to this series of 25 works with its surface design and imagery I doubt anyone will notice or say she shoulda’ printed that going the other direction! ¬†At the same time it disturbs me that I screwed that up.

Why am I so distracted? (how much time do you have?) Oh yeah I remember, the reason I have not been able to just start for weeks now…week 7 of the ongoing kitchen remodel. Since I just started to work again, I am going to just start retraining my focus and think about the free space in my brain once the kitchen is finito. After all we are closer to the finish line than the just start line on that project.


getting caught up…

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

painted-linens-100811The past month has been a whirlwind!

I finished, sold and installed the two Vineyard pieces with a new collector. ¬†And I designed two other small pieces including Keeping Up Appearances #6¬†which is a donation to the annual Arts Guild of Sonoma REPO fundraiser. The requirement is all artwork must be made of 75% recycled materials. Since I use vintage linens in much of my work that was not as much of a challenge as it could have been. The background fabric is a vintage handwoven cotton metallic tablecloth upon which I screen-printed text. The piece is 14″ x 14″.

I received word that Morning Smoothie sold through the Tasty! fundraiser at the San Jose Museum of Textiles and Quilts. And Currents #21, 22, 23 have found a new home in Sonoma.

I am about to start another small piece for exhibition while simultaneously reviewing my retrospective lecture for a gig mid-March. ¬†And then (drumroll) I will begin¬†a new exciting and challenging collaborative project. More to come on that…

Meanwhile back at la casa…After procrastinating for well over a year I made a promise to self the end of 2013 to get on with the kitchen remodel. So I have spent most of this month shopping in person and online for appliances, countertops, backsplash materials, paint, etc etc etc.  The decisions have been made, the contractor and subs are all lined up and I am feeling excited.  Before now all I could focus on was the inconvenience yet now I am ready not only for the upgrade but for the clearing of the brain space that this renovation has occupied for far too long.


just because i can…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013


Years ago I was waxing on about something I should do when a friend said‚Ķ“Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to!” This little tidbit of wisdom has since been a beacon in a sea of indecision and revisited again in the middle of last night. Just because I can doesn’t mean I have to! Sheer brilliance…

I had been sorting & culling clothes from my closet and cloth from my studio over the weekend. It was a combo of creating robust energy in my surroundings and¬†prepping for year-end tax-deductible donations. As the daughter of a war bride I inherited many of her quirky habits; you know the ones like recycling and reusing! ¬†Additionally cast off clothing was always given to someone whose face you would recognize. I continue to have that quality to this day where I want to either remake old clothing or give it to someone I know. Fast forward 60 years… upcycling and repurposing are now the chic words for remaking.

There is a store in Berkeley that sells all kinds of repurposed clothing. Recently I bought a gorgeous cashmere scarf there thinking of course that I could have done this myself.

The idea that I could repurpose tired fleece pullovers into some jazzy, snazzy one-of-a-kind jacket/vest/pullover/you name it had been festering for a while now. I’ve obsessed about the pattern, should I use something ready made, an old pattern or perhaps design a new one? So yesterday I tossed in an ‘intend to repurpose’ pile two fleece vests…one with broken zipper, a brand new pullover for the man who refuses to wear fleece and a tired old red pullover.The pile nearly covered my ironing board which then created unwanted stress about more stuff in my studio!

As I lay in bed the fleece transformation came to mind. I just wasn’t sure which pattern, which shape, how do I get the neck right, yada, yada, yada until voila‚Ķan epiphany!¬†Just because I can doesn’t mean I have to! ¬†Just because I have the equipment and skills to do this task I don’t have to do it. Undoubtedly the people repurposing¬†clothing love doing it. I don’t!

When I got up this morning I went directly to the fleece and repurposed the pile! I put the new pullover on the shelf for me to wear, the two vests went into the charity bag and the red fleece back on the shelf because sometimes there are days when a gal just needs some red, old or not!

I also sorted my fabric and pulled a lot of small pieces and books for the Legacy, a local thrift shop carrying sewing supplies.

redsAll the remaining fabrics were arranged by color.They had been previously sorted by color and I laughed about how one value was now darker than the last time I sorted it. I am about to start a new series and the thought has come about making each piece in a different color-way in an effort to whittle down the stash. Hmmm….just because I can… 

When I was a youngster learning the ways of my depression era parents it was considered selfish and even verboten to refuse to do things one could do. Today it just seems incredibly brilliant!

tallgirl musings…

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

This week I spent ten hours sitting in a chair on the convention floor with my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work. I was fortunate to land a special exhibit within the huge Pacific International Quilt Festival on through today at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I had previously shown the exhibit with the same company’s Denver festival in 2011. I had been on the waiting list for two years for a space at ¬†this venue so I felt honored to be able to showcase this exhibit.

Yet I was ambivalent about being there in person. I am over the Tall Girl Series. It was an autobiographical healing body of work. It’s primary purpose was a vehicle for self-expression; that which had not previously been allowed or acceptable. It served its purpose in getting the story out of my bones and immensely healed my grief, sorrow, pain and anger over the whole ordeal.

Since I finished the 5-year project which included a self-published book, I’ve given over a dozen Powerpoint talks, marketed the traveling exhibit and landed four big exhibits. ¬†Other than the initial in 2010 I had not attended any of the exhibits. But this one being essentially in my backyard (two hours away) I decided I might go and sit there as often people want to meet the artist. I also knew if I stayed home I would be thinking about it all weekend. So I made a deal with myself to go for two days less driving time and lunch with friends.

It truly was an experiment in human psychology!¬†¬†The comments ranged from fabulous, gratifying, validating, to downright ridiculous and rude. Some were so honored to meet the artist, which made me grin inside. ¬†Others patted me on the back, shoulder and knee. And I really had to chuckle at the two women my mother’s generation who told me that at least I have a lovely smile! ¬†My mother often said…”so and so has such a pretty smile… if she would only lose some weight!” ¬†One gal came up and said she thought we went to the same college and we had. She figured that out from the description of the college piece.

Several told me I should write a book (I have), I should travel this exhibit (it has) and I should do something with it (?) There was a game of ‘guess who?’, a ‘you think that’s bad’, several ‘well let me tell you my life story’, dozens of ¬†‘my granddaughter is tall’, several ‘would you do it over again’ questions and one guy very interested in what is to become of the exhibit in the long run…a thought I share. Those who were speechless about the work complimented me on my beautiful stitching which I appreciated.

Perhaps the most shocking were the people who did not read the backstory (100 words) which was posted at both ends of the exhibit. Unaware that I was the artist sitting there looking resplendent, there were comments about “Surgery/Suicide/You Decide” such as ‘how did that awful piece get in?!’ The most common reaction to this piece about anger, blame and rage was laughter. Oh yeah…real hilarious topic.

medical-research-DI could tell when it was time to get up and walk around as my graciousness began to wear off. I soothed myself with hand-dyed and African batik acquisitions. Other than those I did not look at a single quilt except the work of Anna Hergert which I adore. I went back to the solace of my room and ordered room service. By the end of the second day I was depleted for any more social conversation. I even had a drink by myself which Mom always said was the road to destruction!

Mostly what I got from the experience was it not only took a lot of courage to publicly show this deeply personal work but it took additional courage to sit there with it. I also had clarity once and for all about the future of the TG Series. I’m done. The work is done. The healing is done. I have moved on. I have never been a victim and never hope to be. My goal in showing this work has been primarily to show others there are creative outlets for our stories. Every one has a story! It need not be covered up with food, booze, drugs or UPS deliveries. It can be released creatively. That is my sole reason for sharing this work.

I have had numerous conversations with mentors since I finished the series about what’s next for the Tallgirl? The idea most floated was I create a DVD and take it into the schools to educate young people about body image, self esteem and bullying. And yet I haven’t done it. The idea has come up several times and inertia has always followed. Sitting in the exhibit made me aware that the inertia is about being finished and not wanting to do more.

When I first went public with my story it was the most validating and gratifying thing ever as I had been prohibited by my father from ever talking about it. I kept that ‘secret’ for over 40 years so of course it was validating. Now four years later I am tired of repeating the story. It is part of my history but not who I am. In fact it has gotten to feel a bit like a ‘victimization’ by the continual re-telling of it.

My work here is done. In fact when the exhibit returns I may not unpack it. I may just take it to the attic and entomb for posterity in the shipping tubes!  Well probably not, but what an awesome thought.