Archive for the ‘patterns’ Category

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!

on aging…

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

The end goal for finishing the Defining Moments series of 25 pieces is my 70th birthday. Since I am now working on no.19 one could surmise that 70 is approaching. Yes, indeed this is the year, should I be fortunate enough, to reach my 70th birthday. I find that prospect both exhilarating and daunting. Mostly I think a lot about how is this even possible? How can a young person like me be turning 70?! Ha. Twenty five years ago I was in the prime of my life at 44 and 25 years ahead I could be pushing 100, which in my family is entirely possible.

the key looking great past 70 is….hang out with older people!

Aging is both a blessing and a curse. I tend to focus on the blessing, keeping in mind my three dear friends who lost cancer battles and did not have the opportunity. I left two of them behind in my fifties and another two years ago.

I tend to keep my focus on my art and seeing light, color, texture, pattern and shape in everyday life. There is, especially today, so much I could be worrying about other than the next birthday. In fact too many things to worry about, any of which make the following post both shallow and immaterial.

Yet occasionally I am reminded by media, other people or even my own mirror that I am gaining seniority. The two most recent examples were a cashier at Trader Joes who spoke to me but never looked at my face. I was down there somewhere. The very next day the receptionist where I have my hair cut took my cash, made my next appointment and not once looked at me. Initially her rendering me invisible made me angry until my glass half full mindset thought how sad is it to be her and never look anyone in the eye, to never make a connection¬†with another human being. Perhaps it’s the¬†digital mindset.

And yet there are still those little reminders; the distraction while driving to barely avoid someone in the crosswalk (is it my eyes, am I going blind?), the ‘senior moment’ where I ponder is this normal aging or dementia like my¬†sister and my father before her? The dermatologist who with her tight face mentions that ‘unfortunately there is nothing available for YOUR old crepey skin and if there was I would be rich.’ Well bitch according to this ad there is something available and you missed the boat.

If only you had been smart enough to think of this, doc

…how to avoid wrinkles…NOT!

My father used to tell me, as a teenager, that I should be more concerned with what’s¬†inside than outside. (Was this before or after I was surgically altered to have a better appearance?! hmmm…good question!)¬†Still¬†we are bombarded with the media’s obsessional images of “beautiful” with¬†few¬†of the examples over 50; although¬†now 50 seems really young compared to 70! In reality the key to looking youthful is to hang around with really old people;¬†and it did not take me years of expensive education to figure that out.

And remember when flying….sit next to the window with the shade up and take copious photos of the glorious tapestry below. I’d rather be an interesting, visually stimulated old lady than a lifeless, wrinkle free digitized humanoid any day! And it is looking less likely that I will be a ‘nice’ old lady! And get off my lawn…

the muse is keeping me awake…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

handwoven cotton vest

Anyone who makes art knows how exasperating the muse can be. There are times when she has entirely left the brain, the building and the planet and try as we might we cannot ‘rouse her, no matter how disciplined or urgent the need may be. Then there are times when she is simply there, waiting but we don’t have the time. I have learned the hard way to never let this happen. When she is present, she must be noticed, she must be paid attention to and she must be fed. I can play digital mahjong when she is fallow.

And then there are the times when she is so present, she is dancing on the table, singing off key, shouting obscenities, anything to get my attention. Here I am. Pay attention to me dammit! And do it now, this instant, even if it is 3 am in the morning. 

For me that time is now. For the past three nights I have designed many pieces of work, in my mind’s eye while lying in bed between 3 and 6 am.

I am currently finishing the design of #17 of 25 of the current series; while no. 18, 19 and 20 are pacing outside the window. That is what it feels like, as I try to sleep but all I can do is consider construction, how will I execute that idea, should I try to hand stitch all those leaves, would it work if I tried to pillowcase them or would that be an exercise in futility? How big should I make that tree, what about the background? Do I have enough in my stash or should I buy more? What color way do I want to work in? How many leaves should I make? And the most anxiety producing question of all is when I finish the piece can I actually toss out the remaining handwoven remnants?

handwoven cotton-linen bag

This next piece is about my journey through hand-dyeing, hand-spinning and hand-weaving. It began when I was in my late 20’s and concluded at 50. In thirty years I wove all kinds of yardage and made garments, bags and scarves. I sold some, I gave a lot away and I sewed and wore some. Several¬†years ago, after I outgrew most of it¬†I gathered up a big pile¬†and shoved into a drawer in my studio, the famous someday drawer. Someday I will do something with this; until two years ago¬†I realized someday is here and I need to do something with it or get rid of it. So no. 18 is that something! I am excited at the prospect of the design I wish to create and yet still clearly in discussion with muse about how to actually achieve it, to communicate the idea without destroying the woven and knit cloth.

handwoven silk shirt

Ironically I am also experiencing the call of the spring cleaning genie which I am ignoring as best as I can. I don’t want to get sidetracked into tidying when I can actually be designing. And¬†I did the really big purge a year ago so how much can there be to sort through anyway? ¬†When no. 18 is complete I can depart with whatever remains of the handwoven cloth!

The essential ingredient in being able to let go of old and prized textiles, such as my wedding dress and now my handwoven is in creating something new and beautiful from them; essentially giving them new life. I need not drag around the remnants of old life for the rest of mine. It is quite liberating this art making!

 

 

 

NOLA

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

American southwest, likely Utah

shibori where snow meets desert

Last week we jetted down to New Orleans for a five-day Road Scholar program on the culture, music, food, mystique and more food. It was great fun and other than six freaky tornadoes hitting the state mid-week the weather was sublime.

I was my usual aerial photography fool coming and going with the best results on the trip South. The way the snow dusted the desert dazzled me with all these shibori like shapes.Then there was Lake Powell and the swamps surrounding NOLA.

lake powell, UT

aerial surface design, snow meets desert

swamp thang…see any gators?

Once we landed and acclimated we began a week long indulgence in music, sugar, butter, booze, cheese, fried and pure unadultered goodness! I had never really tasted Creole or Cajun food much, and thought it would be terribly hot and spicy, but truly Mexican is much hotter. I LOVED shrimp and grits, gumbo and shrimp etouffe. I skipped all booze and desserts until the last night, in an effort to outfox knee inflammation, which was successful. I also wore my new pure-torture right knee brace that allowed me to walk over two miles a day!

chocolate flourless cake at Muriel’s

On the last night I indulged in a cosmo and the¬†chocolate flourless cake! It¬†was SO worth it, although I had planned to have just one bite, which proved impossible! ¬†Oh wait… I also had a killer sorbet in a fancy spun¬†sugar bowl at Commander’s Palace. But that was it. I passed up booze, cheesecake, bread pudding, bananas foster, pralines and pecan pie for 5 days. So really I was quite disciplined! (insert pat on the back!)

sorbet in spun sugar bowl

shrimp & grits, Commandeers Palace

Other than the food and the music we also visited

cast iron gate

…the Museum of Southern Art, Louisiana State Museum and WWII Museum, which I boycotted. I have had it with war museums but really enjoyed the art of self-taught artists and the Katrina and Mardi Gras exhibits. We also had a thorough tour of the city, including the cemeteries, parks and sculpture garden. We even learned the interesting story of how the dead are buried, and moved in New Orleans.

tombs at St. Mary’s Cemetery

I loved these sculptures¬†the most and mostly¬†did not write down the artists’ names. We learned the difference between Creole and Cajun, cast iron and forged iron gates, and how resilient these people are who live not only with devastating hurricanes but a random tornado too. And we were blown away by the Southern hospitality. Never ever have we met such friendly & gracious people.

Overflow by Juame Plensa

Overflow, detail

sculpture by Korean artist in Sculpture Garden…incredible!

detail, korean sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

All in all it was a good and fun trip!

and they said it wouldn’t last…

Friday, January 27th, 2017

detail of screen-printing, vintage crochet and bridesmaid dress fabric

Yesterday I finished the wedding dress piece...hurrah! I started¬†Defining Moments 16: Marriage early last year¬†by dismantling my wedding¬†dress. Then I¬†screen-printed our vows to the dress fabric as well as some of the flannel lining. I hand-stitched a strip of lace from the dress, fused on bridesmaid dress fabric in squares of various sizes, free-motion stitched the entire background, hand-stitched a photo image of the happy couple walking down the aisle onto my headscarf, hand-stitched my great grandmother’s hand crocheted headscarf to the piece and then, drumroll hand-stitched the entire headscarf on top of the crocheted scarf to the then¬†5 layers of cloth. That last step took many weeks but was so worth it because I love how it all turned out.

My husband helped me carry it downstairs to photograph. When I asked him what he thought he said HUH!  Man of few words then, man of fewer, now 45+ years later!

It was so fulfilling to me to make this piece. Many on social media thought it criminal that I was tearing apart and painting my wedding dress while I queried, what am I to save it for?¬†My¬†mother who made it would’ve been honored to see what I did with it, I believe. And for me the screen-printing and stitching of the

detail of hand-stitching

vows was a bit of a renewal in itself.

Onward to #17…

15 down, 10 to go…

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

I recently finished no. 15 in the Defining Moments series! Now with just ten more to meet our goal I am really feeling the momentum. However, I must pause to whip up some small bags for the arts guild so have pieced the background of no. 16 to inspire me from the wall.

The interesting part to me of no. 15 is I probably would have given the box to charity if I had come across it before I was working on this series.¬†Thirty years ago we moved my mother-in-law to assisted living and cleaned out her home to sell it. I had long forgotten that we brought a box of hubs’ scouting stuff,¬†old photos and stuck it in the attic. Only last year when we¬†performed a massive attic cleansing did this box reappear. It sat for a while in the basement, the other out of sight, out of mind location. Then the box came upstairs and I began to look at the treasure within. By that time I had started this series and knew these items would be invaluable to it at some point. To think I might have otherwise donated to charity for some Halloween costume makes me shutter now.

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

So no. 15 is about meeting my husband aka Mr. Right. This piece contains his Boy Scouts of America shirt, which was pristine as it had been mounted to cardboard by his stepmother.

Defining Moments 15: detail

Defining Moments 15: detail

I also used his Eagle Scout sash and shirt, print transfers of the Eagle Scout commendation dinner, newspaper articles and a journal article about this achievement, photos of him as a teenager, high school graduation, in the Army and the insignia patch from his fire department uniform. And since we met by a computer match in 1970, I added a custom image of data cards as well.

It seems each piece I do I am learning something, gaining new perspective which is really something I did not anticipate. For example no. 9: The Homemaker was about my mother’s occupation as homemaker¬†who¬†had a black domestic who did many of the tasks. The epiphany¬†in doing that piece¬†was that my mother pretty much solely raised three children as my father traveled on business about 80% of the time. How she did that and survived is way beyond me!

No. 15 really reaffirmed what an all-American guy I met and married. A Boy Scout and Eagle Scout, Army vet and firefighter. It doesn’t get much more all-American than that, and he has been my personal hero for 45 years.

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

In preparation for the next piece no. 16 which is about marriage, I screen-printed and embroidered our vows to my dismantled wedding dress. I was one who never wanted to renew my vows as it seemed all too redundant. And yet in stitching and printing them I felt a sense of renewal. This is the start of no. 16 which is the upcycled dress fabric.

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

In the aforementioned box of treasure was an old photo envelope. The photos were relocated but the negatives remained and were mostly of hubs as a young lad.

I decided these also were too precious to toss so I stitched them to screening and have now hung it in the bathroom window. It is really fun!

vintage negatives stitched to screen

vintage negatives stitched to screen

lessons learned…

Saturday, September 17th, 2016
sunset on Norwegian sea

sunset on Norwegian sea

In my last post I eluded to being away from the computer for awhile…We made a trek to Norway to cruise the coast and see the fjords, which has been a long time dream of hubs. Originally we were to go in May but had to postpone the trip to fall¬†so we¬†chose these particular dates to get the best of the autumnal colors, but alas we were about a week early, and saw maybe 2-3 orange shrubs in over 5000 miles of sailing.

We also saw lots of clouds, fog and rain. In 12 days at sea, there were two half days of glorious sunshine, and surprisingly one of those was at the very far north of the planet in Kirkenes. The fjords though were fabulous! It was astonishing to me how so many people made their homes on this hardscrabble land.

We cruised on a Hurtigruten cargo ship. They sail daily out of Bergen and in addition to cargo, there is a car deck, 200+/-passenger cabins. three restaurants, a bar/lounge and laundry & excursions. I can heartily recommend this line for the same cruise as the luxe ships for half the price.

how would you like your salmon today, m'am?

how would you like your salmon today, m’am?

While the cabin was built for munchkins the food was out of this world. The first night in¬†conversation with my ‘personal server’ about my food allergies I jokingly said¬†I love salmon so much I could eat it everyday. Well, careful what you ask for! I ate smoked salmon, gravlax and poached salmon with fingerling potatoes twice a day for most of 12 days. Actually I began to skip lunch and just eat a handful of trail mix I had brought with me, to avoid the fish!¬†I had to laugh on the return flight from Oslo on wonderful Norwegian Air when¬†I was served poached salmon and fingerling potatoes! I did eat however way more than I should have of fabulous desserts and yet still managed to lose weight on this trip by skipping¬†lunch.

best desserts i have ever eaten...and not super sweet!

best desserts i have ever eaten…

I learned so much on this trip. I love it how sometimes it takes relocation for the message to get through, and while it took several incidents to come across; it finally came through loud and clear. An aggressive chap from Down Under peppering me with unwanted attention and sexual innuendos, a stumble on a levitating floor mat, a nasty head cold and finally my trick knee making an appearance all appeared as clues in my telegram from the Universe.

When I could no longer walk without assistance, we changed our plans to go from Bergen to Oslo by train, stayed two extra days in beautiful Bergen and flew home from there. I spent the final two days of the trip, hotel bound in a huge spacious room with natural light, hand-stitching. I also tweaked a lot of photos with apps which is endlessly entertaining. It was pure bliss for me while hubs traipsed through six museums in the two days, which would have bored me out of my gourd. Everyone was happy!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

So what did I learn? I learned that after four cruising trips (Mexico, Lake Powell, the Seine in France and this one) that I really HATE sitting and staring out the window at life at 9 knots per hour!

I learned that as much as I love world travel, I am retiring my passport. I may go to Canada but that is it. There is nothing worse than having the body fail in a foreign country. Never say never, but with us both having health & aging issues, I am just not up for the long haul game anymore. Ironically in having this discussion with peers, many are hanging up the passport! It is a sad decision and yet to reinforce it I made a list. I have been to 46 of the 50 states and 17 countries; four of those more than once! How blessed am I.

I was reminded how often I am embarrassed to be an American abroad. To be away from all the election noise for two weeks, to hear no mention of either idiot running for office for two entire weeks was absolute bliss. To visit a country inhabited by adults and not childish pettiness, self-absorption, celebrity worship, media manipulation is so completely refreshing. Sure most people here are good but that is certainly not the image we project abroad. It is just embarrassing.

I got my final lesson on the trip home. In the airport in Bergen there was another woman in a wheelchair. We discovered we lived 10 miles apart and were headed home on the same flight out of Oslo. It turned out we “knew’ each other from past lives in fiber¬†and¬†knew many of the same people. She had been visiting a friend in Norway who she had visited¬†several times before. However this time she sustained 3rd degree burns over much of her body in a propane fire at a farmhouse. She was returning home after a month in the burn unit in Bergen. Her strength and courage made such a profound impact on me. And made all of my physical challenges seem quite minimal.

We’ve been home enough days that sleep is returning to normal and enjoying an intensive in dog cuddling. So as soon as I shake the rest of this cold which is holding my ‘sea legs’ hostage I will be back in the studio. I’ve postponed an October trip to next year and also plan to change another. Before we left I had booked us to go in a 3 week CRUISE¬†next year to Australia-NZ! For now just packing up the car &¬†dog and heading up the coast seems a lot more feasible.

Meanwhile I continue to post collages of trip photos on my Instagram feed.

coming up on #15…

Friday, August 19th, 2016
memorabilia photo collage

memorabilia photo collage

After an incredibly short month, a quick trip, a class, and a whole lotta hand-stitching I finished the new #12 not to be confused with the former #12. My reward for same was that I strained my dominant rotator cuff from all the hand-stitching. So I have spent most of this week recovering and finally today was able to get back into the gym, and into the studio.

Now back to where I was before I interrupted the series. Number 15 is about hubs. It’s interesting the stuff that is saved for us by our parents and that we then choose to save for ourselves. A couple years ago we found treasure in the attic, i.e. a box of his scouting paraphernalia: his Boy Scout shirt front which had been super glued to a stiff piece of cardboard, intention unknown; his Eagle Scout shirt respondent in patches and decoration, his Eagle Scout sash with 24 badges, plus all the paperwork for the accomplishment, the menu from the celebratory dinner, the letter from the then president of the BSA, a newspaper clipping about it in Swedish, another in English and a journal article. Most of this is going into this piece, or rather on to this piece as well as his Army photo, a couple great teenage photos¬†and fire department imagery. The shirt will be sewn on last.

Undoubtedly there are some who would criticize my use of these materials, as if I am destroying them. I met with some of the same resistance when I decided to dismantle and paint my wedding dress. I figure those who are overly sentimental have never truly cleaned out their attic or even begun to think about where all this ‘treasure’ will go when they are no longer here. I am simply upcycling, making art out of treasured cloth, which to me is far more exciting that having it sit in a musty box in the attic, to then someday be given to charity so some kid can wear it for Halloween.

I am pretty stoked to be on #15 (out of 25). It feels as though I have reached the peak of the mountain and am on the downhill slide. It feels good, and yet still so enjoyable.

out and about…

Saturday, July 30th, 2016
detail of stitching on  canvas

detail of stitching on canvas

Another month has zipped by…do we see a pattern here? I continue on my series which I am so loving. I worry a bit about what I will do when I finish it next year but then I chase that thought away. I will deal with that when I get there. In the meantime I am having such a great time.

I am currently doing some handwork on #12 which was an afterthought piece. And I have gathered the memorabilia and collectibles to begin #15 which is about meeting Mr. Right. I have some great things to work with including his Eagle Scout sash and uniform, which is another sacred garment to dismantle!

Last week I took a four day jaunt up to Portland to see good friends¬†and to take an art class at OCAC. Synchronistically both Franki¬†and I have been craving some hand-stitching so Radical Embroidery seemed to be just the ticket. It was a great class taught by Victoria May, and chock full of inspiration from the work of other hand-stitchers and our classmates. By the fourth day my stitching became very radical and I was enamored with stitching again. While I plan to complete my class samples eventually, I went straight to work on #12 when I got home. Details to follow…

Napa county salt pond,...looks like a Diekenborn

Napa county salt pond

In the meantime my work was selected for a future issue of Art Quilting Studio magazine so I need to prepare the text for that. And also had work chosen for the Boundaries exhibit at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. I went to the opening reception last night and was very intrigued by a photography exhibit on sexual abuse in one of the smaller¬†galleries within the center. It was crowded and I could not get close enough to read the statements, so when I went back today to give my spiel for the docents’ talk I went through the photography exhibit.

I was so moved. Here is another woman, another artist, speaking her truth, telling her-story which is by no means pretty. This was my first experience since going public with my own story, to read and observe another’s. Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz¬†was there so I spoke to her and told her how meaningful her work was. Actually the photography was done by another, but she was the model, acting out her childhood¬†emotions for the sexual abuse she suffered. It was such profound & moving work. She and I agreed that so much healing came to us from telling our stories. And it reminded me again how every single one of us has a story. Yet¬†very few have the courage to speak it. To do so is extremely liberating. So I keep on…telling stories while I¬†observe my own¬†transformation¬†from visual artist to storyteller. It may just be what I’ve needed to be doing all along.