Archive for the ‘shapes’ Category

North to Alaska and back…

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

AK mountains through clouds

Eleven days ago I flew to Anchorage, Alaska for the weekend! It really was a crazy idea but I have been known to fly over 2000 miles for a weekend before.

In fact this was my fourth such weekend trip in the past 4 years. Two were for art receptions both in OH, one to see a dying friend in ND and most recently this artist weekend in AK. What I have learned from these trips is while they are exhausting they are always so worth it. Although as soon as I got home this time, I was committed to jury a fiber exhibit, then caught a bad cold, so I am finally getting back to reality and to this post.

The reason I went to Alaska for the weekend was primarily to see Amy Meissner and her spectacular solo Inheritance Project at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.

Amy Meissner at her Inheritance Project, Anchorage Museum

With a private artist’s walk & talk through the exhibit, I got to really look at the intricate details in each work, and it was fascinating! Amy’s Inheritance Project examines the “literal, physical and emotional work of women….using traditional skills and time.” She crowdsourced inherited textiles to create this profoundly moving and ongoing body of work. It was remarkable to witness how unexpected art supplies might transform grandma’s sofa arm doilies into 3-d objects suspended from the ceiling; as shown on the opening wall of her exhibit. The work dealt with formerly taboo subjects as post-partum depression, child-rearing, women’s inner battles, menopause, etc.

The War Room, detail, contains 2000 tapestry needles

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this work to me is one would never know the deeper meaning, unless one knew. I loved that. My work on similar subjects is so out there, in your face, or so I am told, whereas this work appeared to be “fun pieces with just beautiful stitching” as I overheard a museum docent say to a group she led through the space. The exhibit will be at the Anchorage Museum until late August, then travel to Juneau this winter and potentially beyond AK, in the future. I encourage all to see this stunning exhibit, given the opportunity!

detail, Breakup, Albedo Carpets by Marek Ranis, Anchorage Museum

In addition, we visited several other fantastic exhibits in the museum. I especially enjoyed carpets depicting the spring ‘breakup’ (of ice) in AK.

We indulged in incredible food, including the best king salmon I have ever eaten; met Beth Blankenship whose stitch-work I have long admired, met the fam, visited Amy’s studio and saw WIP; did some sightseeing along the exquisite Turnigan Arm region, including a potter’s studio, where I was dazzled by patterns including how he cut and stacked his wood for the kilns.

stacked wood in potter’s shed

I shared a hotel and the weekend with Judith Quinn-Garnett of Portland, who brought gifts for all, including the most fabulous Oregon-made chocolate ever! We all met at Quilt National 17 last year, where we had work on exhibit, and missed those others in our ‘quiet’ group who could not join us, in Anchorage.

Mt.Rainier, WA

When I fly, I try to reserve the window seat so I can photograph shapes, patterns, textures of the Earth below. Oftentimes, especially on an early morning flight, my seat mates are displeased at the wide open window screen. To me that is the price of admission! Although this was my third trip to AK, it was my maiden voyage flying into Anchorage.

descent into ANC, 8:30 pm

And wow, what a spectacular sight that was! From the snow-capped peaks poking through the clouds, to the snow-streaked like shibori mountainsides, to the clouds, and the midnight sun poking through, to the wetlands creating pattern on the ground, the view was absolutely stunning.

Coming home I did my usual hop the Cascades from Seattle, although I was certain, after 3 hours of sleep that Mt. Rainier was indeed Mt. St. Helens. That is until the pilot announced we were then right over Mt. St. Helens, some 20 mins after that sure sighting.

Mt. St. Helens

Blessed, I tell ya!

‘gun it granny…’

Monday, May 21st, 2018

After two weeks of delightful procrastination I finally got back to machine stitching my latest work today. Today I woke too weary to walk, after driving 235 miles in traffic yesterday. While walking may have been the best thing for me, I decided instead to pamper myself and stay home, do laundry (oh boy, now that’s pampering!) and stitch. Once I got started and the rhythm going, I changed colors 5 times and finished stitching the entire piece. Ah progress! It is actually just the foundation as now I will lay the design, the narrative, if you will, on top of the stitched base.

just how fast do you think you were going young lady?

Not long after I got into the swing of it a voice from the past visited….Chris Walberg and his gun it granny!¬†I was really zipping along or so I thought until I looked up at the speed meter and it read 50%. Well I think at 100% steam would have been rising from the machine!

When I was 15, I took drivers education as did all baby boomers. Because we were so populous there were 4 kids in every car in drivers ed. I was blessed to be relegated to a car with Chris Walberg. Undoubtedly it was because we both had last names that started with W-. Chris seemed to be my constant alphabetical companion in high school. So there I was driving some back road in Walnut Creek, and possibly a bit overly-cautious. I felt empowered, as if I was really now a grown-up, until Chris leaned over from the backseat, stuck his head between the instructor’s and mine, and snarled, gun it granny! Funny how that has stayed with me all these years. And it makes me wonder now, as I zip along at 70 in traffic on the freeway, if he is that guy slaloming between cars at 85?

So today, pedal to the metal at 50%… Chris Walberg, this one’s for you!

this baby stitches through 6 layers like a dream

on plastic and awareness…

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

With an early morning orthodontist appointment that sent me running as soon as my feet hit the floor, I have yet to slow down. I have 90 mins between appointments when I thought I would stitch, but alas here I am doing a blog post. I should¬†be meditating which would make everything fall into place…ah¬†meditation guilt!

What got me thinking about a blog post was an errand to the superstore to stock up on things like dishwasher soap and shampoo. Normally I avoid the chain supermarkets but sometimes one has to just stock up. While there I got a huge size of gallon ziplock bags. I also picked up a box of hand wipes. As soon as I was home and unpacking I got so disturbed with myself that out of habit I bought these things.

You see in the past year I have become educated as to the glut of plastic garbage that floats out to sea, drifting aimlessly in a stew of other forgotten necessities; strangling fish, killing coral, and what remains often ends up on the beaches of beautiful places we all hope to visit one day. I believe I am more upset about this than any other chaos or disaster affecting our planet, probably because if we each did more than our part we might be able to affect change. So what am I doing about it?!

As most of us who have done any work on ourselves know, half of the problem is awareness. Once we are aware of something that needs to be changed, or a bad habit to be broken, that is half the battle. So I wonder why when I am so outraged do I continue to buy the products that offend? I justify it by saying, well I recycle, but isn’t the problem with the product itself and not with the conscientious recycler? Isn’t the problem that these kinds of single use plastics are being made in the first place? Isn’t the problem that so many people are throwing their trash on the streets rather than in a garbage can two feet away? What ever happened to simple human decency? Well that is a subject for another day.

So note to self. Stop buying the offending products, even if I do recycle. Why contribute to the problem? And you might wonder WTH this has to do with art making? Well, a lot! Since I finished the Defining Moments series I am between projects. I am designing a number of narrative pieces because it turns out I do have an opinion, on a lot of different subjects!

For the past couple of weeks I have been doing battle royale with a new piece of work about the masses moving out of California to other states. Last year 46,000 more left, than came in. Mostly people leave because it is so expensive to live here, but in my research of 6 friends moving out of state, all but one initially came from somewhere else. Only one native has left. Yes we are a hearty lot!

Today the initial layers are ready for the needle. It has been a duel between the work and me, with lots of cloth bias with which to contend. More than once I have wanted to pitch it in the trash. It still has trash (er, recycle) potential but I am hoping the needle will make it behave.

OK, ok…now I will meditate! Only because I no longer have time to stitch!

 

back at it…

Friday, March 9th, 2018

2018 has been hectic thus far… took a short trip, got bad news about a friend’s health, got the flu and battled that for two weeks, followed by nearly three weeks of digestive issues. Now hoping that I am on the mend, I am pondering my next creative steps.

I decided to do a no. 25 in the Defining Moments series and have that started on the design wall. This one will be a homage to my good friend, project partner and mentor Marion Coleman. We met 15 years ago and shortly thereafter she became my mentor on the Tall Girl Series. It is she who suggested we do the Defining Moments series and provided me with the inspiration and incentive to start. She is the most generous artist I know and meeting her was definitely a defining moment in my life.

I also have been giving a lot of thought to my next body of work, and started the research and development on that. In addition I have various forms of hand-work that beg my attention.

There is the knitting I have ripped out four times, likely as a means of seeing just how strong this yarn is or how much abuse it can really take.

There is the hand-stitching of the water in France, on which I initially used too large a needle and am also now considering changing yarn weight and color entirely. Oh there’s that masterpiece thinking again!

And there is the hemp yarn I bought on vacation to knit two things, a washcloth and a shopping bag. I knit a small cotton washcloth years ago and love it for the shower! You notice the skeins are still intact.

And then of course this fabulous Noro yarn I also bought on vacation, to create a very cool ladder scarf, which I discovered after I got home was crocheted and not knit. My hands don’t hurt enough from knitting that I am going to take up crochet?

I am not sure what all this says about me personally. The inner critic says I can’t settle down and do one thing at a time or that I am dissatisfied or bored. Hubs would say I have to multi-task and save nano-seconds!

The wise me thinks it is all good. All these things are stirring the creative juices. Plus it is not a competition as to how much I can do at once. And yes I am easily bored!

In other news I decided to make a weekend sprint to Anchorage this summer, to see my friend Amy Meissner’s Inheritance Project exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. This is big for two reasons. I have not been away solo for nearly a year & that I seldom go the 30 miles to the Bay Area to see art! Yet I have been so inspired by Amy’s extraordinary use of these vintage textiles to make art. After sharing time and space with her in OH last year, making this north to Alaska¬†jaunt was a no-brainer. I look forward to this quick getaway and reuniting with her and some of the other¬†Quiet Women¬†from Quilt National 17.

opportune flu timing…

Monday, February 5th, 2018

elephant seal sanctuary, Piedras Blanca, CA

Today is day 10 of my stint with the flu. Yesterday I felt totally great yet did nothing because I had been warned of relapse. And alas, today, there it was, just the same. After 10.5 hrs of sleep I could barely get out of bed. Of course by now, hubs who got the shot (as opposed to me who refuses each year because “I never get the flu”) is also ill. So between the two of us and the dog it looks like the elephant seal sanctuary around here.

Just before the flu we took a 6 day road trip down the Central Coast for a Road Scholar program on migrations. It was an interesting program, full of intelligent people, many who came in escape of the midwest and east coast winter. We learned we are not birders, as if there was any doubt before. I could not even see the silver throated cockle tweeter let alone name it and where was the brown shingled outhouse when I needed it?

At the close of 2017 I was finishing up no 24 in my three year series Defining Moments. And I was worried for a couple months before that about what next?¬†There is nothing like a deadline to motivate a person like me. For three years I did not have to worry about what’s next? Sure it took me a bit to get started, but once I did, it was fairly smooth sailing.

I tried not to think about it, but alas it was there needling me, what’s next? what’s next? So I started to pay more attention to what it is going on around me, and in the world, what caught my attention and what didn’t, and really began to hone in on what I might introduce to my work.

Then I went on vacation, where I got some heartbreaking news from a friend, which affects my current project, then I got the flu. Then I lost interest in anything I would normally do to calm myself. I have lots of handwork I can do. I have knitting to rip out and restart. I have books I can read. I can do nothing, but fret and twist in the wind.

The truly ironic part of this whole scenario is I am not lacking for inspiration. I simply cannot contain my mind. I am bored out of my gourd lying here, unable to work. I want control of it. Isn’t that ridiculous, sick with the flu and still trying to choreograph the show? Did I learn nothing with the 27 month knee inflammation? Surrender, Dorothy!

When I was a young woman with bad menstrual cramps I envisioned the perfect comfort would be to sit in a vat of warm chocolate pudding. This may be the time to ferret that out! Or I could simply contemplate the dehydrated navel orange…ymmm!

a slice of dehydrated orange is 100 x sweeter than fresh!

 

 

…and then there were four

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

The response to my 70 for 70 sale has been tremendous! Thank you so much to all who have purchased my work. It warms my heart to know so many love my work, while simultaneously allowing me to reduce inventory!¬†¬†Work has flown off the shelves and just four are remaining…

Adrift¬†19″ x 26″, an experimental piece using potato dextrin resist and a tile layer‚Äôs tool to manipulate the paste.
Decay 5, 36‚ÄĚ x 32‚ÄĚ, I rusted the base fabric in the garden, and delighted to see¬†nature created holes in the cloth;¬†screen printed with leaves and¬†emphasized¬†the holes with stitching.
Heatwave,¬†16‚ÄĚ x 16‚ÄĚ, I hand-dyed canvas and¬†screen-printed with original imagery on a very hot day!
Red Door, Feng Shui 2, 26‚ÄĚ x 30‚ÄĚ, A subdivision of beige houses with¬†red doors,¬†went up on the hill behind us. I screen-printed window shapes on the pieced background.
           

Until December 13 these four pieces are $70 each, in honor of my 70th birthday!

You may see this work by visiting the 70 for 70 page on my website. If you see something you love, want, covet, must have, send an email with the name of the piece, your name, address and phone number. I will invoice you through Paypal. If you do not have a Paypal account, let me know that too!   Small print: I will charge $5.95 sales tax on each piece sold. I will pay the shipping.  All sales are final.

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE ARTS!

knowing when to stop…

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Defining Moments 20: The Harried Years, detail WIP

Knowing when to stop could apply to a lot of things in life. When to stop eating sugar, when to stop obsessing about your way too short haircut, when to stop expectations for others’ behavior, etc.

For me, in this moment knowing when to stop came last night as I laid yet one more layer on #20. This poor piece now has at least 6 layers of cloth and batt, with cotton and perle threads galore.

Decades ago when I was a weaver I had a mentor who said, if it looks incomplete, add more. I always have remembered that and have frequently put it to work. On the flip side is knowing when to stop. I have reached that point with this piece.

#20 is about the harried years, which for me were the 80’s and ’90’s when I was wife, mother, small business owner and employee in a medical office. I went swimming on my lunch hour, on the days that I was not driving my kid from daycare to preschool, then to elementary school, junior high and eventually high school. I was a ‘soccer Mom’ before soccer moms were cool! I was most often in my car, driving to work, to the grocery store, to the post office, to Brownies, 4-H, swim team, piano lessons, and so on. For the base of this piece I typed a list of words describing my life at that time, and screen printed the list to the cloth. I also screen-printed the same list to hand-dyed cloth to be used for lettering. On top of the background I layered the Brownie sash, a baby vintage ’79 t-shirt, an image of the cover of my favorite bedtime story (GoodNight Moon), the front of a hand-spun, handwoven baby bomber jacket I had created, the biz card from my yarn business, image of hubs and I in our respective hand-spun, hand-woven, sewn bomber jackets, a hand-stitched ‘how to’ book cover and pieces of a quilted pillow my grandmother had made for my daughter as newborn.

more letters…

Defining Moments 20: The Harried Years, detail How To book

Then I figured out how many of each letter I needed to spell out the words which I had previously screen-printed to the cloth. I decided not to use all the words of course as that would be too busy! First I cut Helvetica 2″ letters and fused and stitched those randomly, then I cut out Helvetica 3″ stenciled letters. I worried a bit about not having enough painted fabric for letters, so I painted more and continued to cut. In the end I had close to 50 extra letters! I laid the screen-printed stenciled letters on top of the printed background fabric and then hand-stitched each letter down, primarily to give it some contrast. The letters are fused but as we know that does not always hold into perpetuity. So I figured the hand-stitching added another layer of interest to this already busy piece. ¬†As I proceeded along I began to see quite clearly that it was next to impossible to read the lettering. There is not enough contrast between the painted background and the painted letters. I thought of my mentor long ago, just add more as I stitched along, for what seemed like forever, but was probably a month or so!

Defining Moments 20: The Harried Years, detail baby bomber jacket

Letters were all stitched and the piece went back up on the wall. Yep. Can’t read ’em! Oy vey, what to do now? Actually the first thing I did was start #21. I just needed an escape hatch from what was becoming a cumbersome piece.

Then I tried out pinning various widths of b/w strips under to the words to highlight them. That sort of worked but looked awful. So I ended up cutting little snippets of a curvy b/w stripe, fusing each one to a portion of each letter and then free-motion stitched them down. It actually made them slightly easier to read. Yet I knew I could not fathom putting one more thing on this piece! I knew it was time to stop.

The irony in all of this is the piece is about a harried time in my life. The piece is busy. Does harried not equal busy?! I think it works in some sort of bizarre way. When I have had a chance to photograph it in full, it will be up on my website but in the meantime these are just details.

After all… it is about the details!

 

busy is as busy does…

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

no. 20 under construction

It seems as if I have been working on #20 forever.  I have been hand stitching screen-printed letters as the final layer. In some places I am stitching through 4 or 5 layers of cloth, which does not make it any easier or faster for my tired old hands. But it is great listening to baseball work! And I am mostly liking the result.

My hesitation lies in the fact that this piece is extremely busy. That is it’s challenging to make out what it is all about which is really a bit ironic. Because it is about the harried years, the years I spent in my car driving to work, to swim on my lunch hour, and my kid to school, daycare, piano lessons, swim team, 4H, brownies. And of course buying groceries and all the household stuff of cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc etc etc.

So I am thinking if it is a bit busy it is literal. For now I am not dealing with the busy, just hand-stitching. When that layer is complete I will re-examine busy!

Meanwhile, I decided I should start designing #21 so that I can multitask once more. When I mentioned to someone I was going to do the next piece on loss, they said no I shouldn’t! I just thought that was their stuff because in reality loss is a part of life and I believe if done well really does enrich a life.

For example, had my long-time employer not died of cancer when I was 50, I might never have left a dead-end (no pun intended) job and became a textile artist! Sure I probably would have kept on sewing garments, and maybe dabbled in color in one way or another, but would I have taken a myriad of workshops and learned a collection of skill sets and had time to develop a portfolio, market my work, exhibit and travel? Probably not. So in a sense that particular loss shook me to my core but enabled me to reinvent myself!

So in this version of LOSS I am including those who I loved most dearly and how their taking leave, whether through death or simply walking away,  defined my life. It is interesting that in doing the writing and digging out the old photos, how much is stirred up again, even after all this time.

A lot of folks don’t want to think about loss or the inevitable; whereas I always want to understand, see between the lines, what does this mean, why now, why him, why her, to comprehend the big picture. I believe we are all here to learn something. I have a friend who thinks that is hooey. She says some people are just jerks and there is no ‘lesson.’

I partially agree in that I think some are here simply to do lunch. Thankfully that is not me!

 

lack of sleep…

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

screen-printed letters for #20

After several weeks of contemplative staring at the wall, I am hard at work on no. 20 in this Defining Moments series. This one is about the harried years and my biggest challenge again was figuring out how to depict it. Finally I decided on a screen-printed background, with imagery & letters overlaid describing that chaotic time.

I decided two sizes of letters would be good, so I traced and cut Helvetica 2″ and Helvetica 3″ letters. Essentially the letters spell the same words that are screen-printed onto the cloth. Before I cut I calculated how many of each letter I needed because to just do it any other way would be crazy. I have been working on the letters for several days now, and also stitched the background in preparation for the layering. Yesterday I cleared off my design table to lay out the stacks of letters in alpha order to begin the actual layering of words.

How I was able to function yesterday at all is a miracle. I had just 3.5 hours of interrupted sleep the night before, for reasons I need not go into here. When I got up, nearly the first thing I did was walk into a wall, for which my right arm and right knee are painful reminders this day. As the day went on my energy returned somewhat and thus developed the letter laying plan.

Only this morning when I woke up refreshed did I realize what a huge mistake I had made in stacking this enormous pile of letters onto half of the design table. I actually needed to trim and square the already stitched background (quilt) so I know exactly how far to the edges I can lay the letters. And where would I do such a procedure? On my design table of course! The same design table that is covered with stacks of letters.

So what did I do? I did what any self-respecting efficiency expert would do. I gingerly folded the quilt in half one direction and then the other and trimmed the edges on the remaining open half of the table. And of course it was nowhere near square so I had to gingerly lay it down several times. I got it done with only 5-6 letters flying to the floor. I saved so much time and so much more sanity by not removing the letters and then re-laying them down!

Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep!

more letters…

peeling the onion, in reverse…

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Defining Moments 12: Motherhood, background under the needle

I have often heard it said that getting to know someone is like peeling an onion. My new style of working is more like peeling the onion, in reverse. It is a layering process.

Ever since I succumbed to the siren call of the mid-arm my whole style of designing has changed. Now, because I can, I stitch each piece in layers. First I piece the background and then quilt that. No more skies that start and stop at the edge of a building. Now the sky goes all the way across as a sky does. No more fused parts loosening up and dog-earring while stitching an entire piece. Now the machine appliqué parts are fused and then stitched, in their own time. It is so much easier and truly remarkable how much more professional the work looks doing it this way.

stitching text

I am currently wrapping up Defining Moments 19: Motherhood which has been a bear to create. It was a bear because I could not figure out what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it.  I was reminded by my favorite aunt that motherhood for me was a challenge, and like all people, places or things that have challenged me in this life; they also have challenged me in the series. I was at a total loss for a design. I knew I needed to include Motherhood as a defining moment but oy, how? Finally I just sat down and started writing, free thinking if you will, just writing without editing. And what come out was remarkable.

free-writing, also screen the background

I wrote about how I never considered whether I wanted kids or not, because that is not what women in my generation did. We got married and had kids. It was the norm, it was expected. It’s what you did. Some might question how I could even admit that and yet I am here to tell you that my daughter, now grown, made¬†her own¬†decision not to have children, in her 20’s. When she told me, I thought what great courage and integrity it took to make that decision and do something about it. Perhaps her decision gave me permission to admit publicly I was uncertain if I should reproduce or not.

Another thing that came through the writing was my battle with postpartum depression. I struggled through it for many months and had never really spoken much of it, certainly not at that time. Those two issues alone make for a very strong piece about motherhood.

collage of daughter’s childhood images

Then I decided to then add something that personified the blessing that came to me through motherhood. So I made a collage on silk organza of some of the most wonderful photos of my daughter growing up. This adds the paradox of my motherhood experience; from all that worry and stress came this beautiful baby who grew into a woman of such integrity and conviction. She continues to be one of my greatest teachers, as I peel back the layers.

Happy Mothers Day!