Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

this and that…

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
glorious NM clouds make for fantastic sunsets

glorious NM clouds make for fantastic sunsets

Last week I traveled with a friend for a mixed media art class in Santa Fe, NM. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a total NM junkie. It takes little to convince me to go to NM, and this my 14th trip was no exception. This time I spent no time in galleries, the cooking school or on the plaza, however.

All my time was consumed with art-making, eating and sleeping. With possibly 100 great restaurants in Santa Fe, we chose repeats at our favorites! And with preparation I was able to consume everything I loved including an entire week of green chile and blue corn anything.

green please!

green please!

foodWe also crammed in two errands, one to see the SAQA NM region’s Cultural Red exhibit at the capitol roundhouse and the other a visit to our favorite indian jewelry trading post, the Santa Fe Exchange. ¬†It was delightful!

We studied with Betty Busby whose work I have been in awe of for a long while. I¬†bought a piece of her work in 2011 from¬†the SAQA auction and having it hang in my office is such a treat, and¬†daily reminder of all that is possible to explore in this medium. Spending the week with Betty¬†really demystified her¬†work for me and made me appreciate even more its detail and intricacy. Additionally¬†she is such a generous soul and funny person so it was overall a great¬†experience. As¬†I was fully ‘in the moment’ I was also able to appreciate the art immersion, the relaxation and the gift of time away.

painted leaves

painted leaves

We painted non-wovens, such as these leaves and the outline of an aged cactus, which strangely looks a bit like a totem.

old cactus sketch cut in fabric

old cactus sketch cut in fabric

We also painted several pieces of silk under/over textured mat surfaces…

painted silk over plastic mat

painted silk over plastic mat


And used Shiva paint sticks to create patterns on previously painted fabrics.   shiva

Now that I am back I am picking up where I left off on the collaboration as well as enjoying an online class titled¬†iPad for Artists which reminds me I best get started…


where i have been…

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
spring comes to Prosser, WA

spring comes to Prosser, WA

Holy Smokes‚Ķwhat happened to March?! I can’t believe it has been over a month since I have blogged.

To come up to speed, I continue on with the collaborative series, as I am now designing #7 of the twenty five. I am so enjoying this experience and the ever changing challenges of construction, technique, materials, etc.

Meanwhile I sold all my small scrap purses at the arts guild, so a brief interruption of the series for production sewing. This is something that often challenges me. I never want to do production line anything and yet these sweet small bags pay my rent there, so for now it is worth the tradeoff. If I end up sewing a dozen a month, it will not be worth it however! Each one is a design challenge and allows me to use up most scraps of my self-designed cloth.

scrap bags

scrap bags

Last week we interrupted this program with an impromptu road trip to eastern Washington for a memorial service.

along the Columbia River Gorge, OR

along the Columbia River Gorge, OR

Mt. Shasta, CA at 70 mph

Mt. Shasta, CA at 70 mph

We jumped in the car because it seemed the most expeditious way to get there and although we spent more time driving than we were actually there, we saw some gorgeous nature along the way. We also explored the small town and I stumbled across this incredible tree in an art shop. It was constructed from plastic water bottles that had been painted by someone with far more patience than I.

painted plastic bottle tree

painted plastic bottle tree

Fortunately I was never far from sushi. This beauty was from a grocery store…and it was yummy! So now back at home and back to work!

car picnic: sushi

car picnic: sushi

sometimes my work gets out more than i do…

Sunday, February 1st, 2015
Awakening from Tall Girl Series

Awakening from Tall Girl Series

Last year I was presented with an opportunity to submit work to an international exhibit. Ségolène Diamant-Berger  had recently returned home to France after living in Louisiana and was curating an exhibit on the theme of freedom. She had personally invited several members of African-American quilt guilds, one of whom sent me the prospectus.

At first I had reservation about sending my work abroad as shipping can be astronomical and often one has to pay duty on their own work returning home. Was it worth it? I agonized. After listening to those who had shipped work abroad with success I eventually decided to enter the exhibit. Awakening from my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work was chosen as it best fit the theme of Liberte! 

I shipped the work to France last spring. Since then this piece has been in four different exhibits throughout France. This is far more exposure than I could have hoped for and certainly more than the work would have had, had I given into the fear and not entered the exhibit initially.

Now I wish I had grabbed my passport and gone with the work!  This is where it has been:

U.S.A. Foundation, International University Campus, Paris, FR 2015
American Foundation for Arts & Sciences, Paris, FR 2015
Angers Catholic University, Angers, FR 2014
Universit√© Catholique de l’Ouest, Library, Angers, FR 2014
Saint Eloi chapel, Angers, FR 2014

unexpected nirvana…

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
the view from our room

the view from our room

I just returned from a fabulous five-day art retreat on the shores of Lake Tahoe. What could have been a disastrous turn of events actually turned into nirvana for me. The classroom I was assigned to was midway up on billy goat mountain. I traversed it slowly with cane and friend in tow four times on the first day and that night my knee cried “uncle!”

In the night I decided that the best plan was to have my sewing supply bag and workshop machine brought down from on high to our large room. There I set up shop & laid out designs on the spare bed. Sewing primarily by hand, I worked propped up on the bed with pillows and ice, with lovely Lake Tahoe out the window and Pandora cranking out the tunes on my iPad. It literally was divine! What I actually needed on this retreat, without realizing it until then, was long periods of solitude, to rest my brain and body.

The teacher Lorie McGown, texted me during the days and asked permission to come to studio solitude to check out my work progress. That too was great as I got to know her, had private instruction and got her good feedback on my work. A kindred spirit indeed!

My intention for the retreat was to get going¬†on¬†another piece in the 25 pc collaborative series I have been working on this year. ¬†This piece is about my handcraft heritage and I planned to incorporate hand-crocheted doilies, hand-knitting, my great grandmother’s hand-crocheted head scarf, my father’s christening gown, etc.

What I hadn’t been able to figure out was how to make it pop as¬†the french vanilla beige was boring to me. Lorie encouraged me to layer and incorporate pieces of my own work into it and from there it just took off.

father's christening gown on handwoven cloth

father’s christening gown on handwoven cloth

For example, this piece¬†still in progress of my father’s christening gown is sewn to my handwoven silk scarf and my great aunt’s handwoven shawl. Another piece incorporated a lovely quilted belt my mother had made for herself in the ’90’s. She was a world-class hand piecer and quilter.

layers of doilies and Mom's hand-pieced quilting

layers of doilies and Mom’s hand-pieced quilting

Now I am back and rediscovering the challenges of not being able to hand-stitch 8 hours a day!

another day, another art class…

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
wine country

wine country

I am just back from my 2nd¬†trip in two weeks…a short two-nighter to the Pacific Northwest. It all started with an air credit on Alaska Air, and where could I go for $120?

I decided to take a one day class at the Pacific Northwest Art Center in Coupeville, WA on Whidbey Island.  This was my fourth trek there for a class so I knew the territory well.

I flew out of our regional airport where there are some really gorgeous vineyards and wineries quite close by. One of the things I love about this route is the scenery. One can literally hop along the Cascades all the way to Seattle.  Never have I seen Mt. St. Helens so close-up as on the return flight.

mount st helens, wa

mount st helens, wa

The class was a one-day dye workshop with Carol Soderlund. My primary objective¬†was to figure out how I can continue to dye fabric in a drought. While I haven’t done much dyeing as of late because of the drought and how much water it takes to rinse out, I have continued to¬†screen paint onto cloth to layer and add color.

Carol is extremely knowledgable about dyes and colors, mixing etc. I was reminded immediately that I can produce any color, plus neutrals from the basic primaries of red, yellow and blue.

Therefore¬†all the fancy schmancy dye colors that are sold¬†are simply¬†money makers for the companies. There may be¬†an ounce of color in 3¬†ounces of filler. Of course I knew I had fallen victim to this scheme! My¬†thinking being based on convenience…oh why not just buy the deep purple instead of having to mix it up?

I went downstairs to my wet studio this morning to put away class supplies from the weekend. I decided just to check how many fancy schmancy dye colors I had? It was shocking…I have about 8 jars of primaries and at least 40 x 4 oz jars of lapis and charcoal, rust brown and maroon brown, navy blue and chartreuse, curry,  periwinkle, raspberry, avocado, victorian blue and olive green and on and on and of course a BIG jar of deep purple!  Besides the fact that all these dyes are minimally 3 years old yet likely even older.

pastels ready to be over-dyed

pastels ready to be over-dyed

Predictably there was a slight bugaboo in my class dye experience. I had received some very unsettling news the night before I flew to WA. Toss in your average travel stressors and I admit to being distracted in class. So much so that I inadvertently confused the dye recipes and used half the dye that I should have. I used the recipe for 1/4 yard fabric on 1/2 yard fabric.

I also lost the advantage of having the cloth batch for a day or longer as I had flown rather than driven from home. The cloth had to be nuked, rinsed, washed and dried before I left the class.

I was shocked when most of the cloth came out pastel! I am not a pastel person normally but now I own 12 yds of pastel fabric. I was not overjoyed. It was not until the next day that I realized my mistake.  Last night I pressed all the cloth and re-sorted. I have intentions of over-dyeing the pastels soon with the correct recipes.

enough saturation

enough saturation

All in all it was a fun class, a good learning experience but tiring after two trips in two weeks. In the past two weeks I have walked through ten airports and been on six flights.  I am ready to stay home for awhile and get my hands dirty making art again.

out and about…

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
bucolic snow farm

bucolic snow farm

I just had the great opportunity to visit the East Coast for 9¬†days. There were many special aspects of this trip including my first solo trip in many moons. And I had not been to CT since my folks lived there in the ’80’s.

It took me 17 hours door to door to get there and I joked that I could have gone to Paris in that time. And yet I was relaxed and flexible because really once we walk into the airport our life is no longer our own anyway.

I visited with friends in CT for the weekend, enjoyed the regional SAQA meeting, revisiting with acquaintances and making new ones, sipped lancaster limeade poolside near the beach, ate gelato, and just hung out. One of my personal highlights was also missing the big No CA earthquake as I did Loma Prieta in 1989. Two for two!

On Sunday I was graciously transported back to the airport where I picked up a shuttle to traverse to Williamsburg, MA with hordes of over-packed college bound students, headed to Smith, Mount Holyoke and Amherst.  I spent the week at the bucolic Snow Farm, headquarters of the New England Craft Program, on a Road Scholar trip, studying Metal and Jewelry Design.

pond where a bullfrog or two live

pond where a bullfrog or two live

door of the welding studio

door of the welding studio

One thing every artist knows is how important it is to study outside of their particular media. My week was dedicated to just that. And as a collector of hand-made jewelry I wanted a better understanding of the design process.

My husband was extremely worried I might jump media and become a jewelry designer, whereas I had no expectation of that.  My intention was simply to learn to solder without burning myself (fail) or my clothes (success!); avoid picking up hot annealed metal (fail), to meet other artists also studying alternative media (success!) and to just relax in a different environment (success!).

Accommodations were rustic at best, the food fabulous and well-catered to my allergies and sensitivities.¬†How¬†could I pass up the dessert when it was made specifically for me?! I wouldn’t want to hurt the chef’s feelings, y’know!


brass sheet metal pendant with braided copper/brass wire works collar


4 ply braided copper/brass twisted, knitted cuff and copper/brass serpentine cuff

I can now cross jewelry design off my bucket list.  It was very interesting to learn but clearly I am no threat to the professionals!

copper foil cuff, copper bangle and ring

copper foil cuff, copper bangle and ring

installing new exhibit…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

“Forming Our Lives: Three Women, Three Phenomenal Stories” July 26-Sept 14, 2014 San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA

I drove down to San Jose Sunday afternoon to be in position for a Monday exhibit install at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. Sadly traffic patterns control my schedule in this part of the world so I knew it wise to position myself outside of my commute zone.

I stayed at a wonderful Air BnB place which was a treat. This cute little house with the beautiful garden is owned by a fun and friendly gal who frequently rents rooms to finance her home improvements. And it was a scant 10 mins from my morning destination.

We arrived just as¬†SAQA regional members deconstructed their beautiful ‘Northern California Expressions’ exhibit (the one for which I made the two Vineyard pieces that sold right off my design wall in spring, so I couldn’t enter the exhibit). We began to unpack and lay out our work on sheets placed on the floor and as soon as they¬†patched and dabbed paint on the walls, we got to work!

Bonnie J. Smith‘s husband was our main ladder man as he has much¬†experience hanging her work. ¬†After a couple OSHA-inspired tool juggling tricks we got down to team-work and in no time had installed the first wall which is a mix of all three women’s work and the artist statement for the exhibit. Forming Our Lives: Three Women, Three Phenomenal Stories was starting to transform the space and in a beautiful way.

This wall shows work from each of us and the artist statement about the exhibit

This wall shows work from each of us and the artist statement about the exhibit


four pieces from Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work

Next we hung work from my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work













then¬†pieces from Bonnie’s¬†Swimming Upstream¬†series‚Ķabout¬†her rehabilitation from a debilitating work comp injury.


from Bonnie J. Smith’s ‘Swimming Upstream’ series

and finally five pieces from Cristina Velasquez Dresses series…¬†a fabulous and inventive parody on all the ‘shoulds’ society & culture put on women.

Christina installing her 'Dresses' series

Christina installing her ‘Dresses’ series

We finished early enough that I had time to hit the highway home rather than staying another night. Of course I was in time for the “pre-commute” traffic!

the joys of living in the 'burbs

the joys of living in the ‘burbs


“Forming Our Lives” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles July 26-Sep 14, 2014 . (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays) Do see it‚Ķand while you are there check out the ITAB exhibit.

where i’ve been…

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Where have I been you might ask? Good question! We have been in kitchen chaos for over a month now as we update our mid-century ‘heart of the house.’ It is difficult, anyone will tell you that. I think it is most likely the chaos and unpredictability of many factors that create the stress. Yet I try to keep my eye on the prize, that we are closer to the finale than the beginning and that this too shall pass.. hopefully soon!


metro ceiling, DC

And we just returned from ten days in the Washington DC area. We had last been there over 20 years ago so when the chance came to go to another textile conference we jumped on it. There were new monuments and museums to visit!

We spent five days ‘in the district’ exploring arts, history and botany. From wonderful art collections to great dining finds on Yelp! to drenching monsoons we experienced all DC had to offer. Then we moved on to Alexandria, VA for the conference which was both scenic and enlightening, yet probably not in the way one might assume. Our final¬†day we headed back to a hotel by the airport for an early flight. We took the Metro into DC and visited¬†one more museum and feasted on Russian fare in a fun and quirky restaurant near Dupont Circle. That was such a great reminder to me to honor my heritage more often and go to Russian restaurants locally.

So I share with you some reflections of our DC trip. I did not take my usual hundreds of photos but did find some gems while out and about‚Ķ public art both authorized and not. ¬†I noticed much less graffiti there. There¬†must be¬†some unwritten code about destroying others’ artwork.


incredible night sky into SF the night before we left, taken on the new bay bridge


view from our room near SFO

intriguing texture at spy museum


this aerial shot looked so much like a stitching pattern…somewhere over the midwest

reflection caught from restaurant window

downtown DC…


national geographic museum


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


subway art, arlington, VA


mosaic, terminal C, MKE


mosaic, terminal C, MKE


closeup of copper panels at FDR monument


incredible copper inlaid panels at FDR monument, depicting workers in TVA projects


sidewalk in front of gov’t building


FDR’s index well worn index finger, FDR Natl Monument

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.


on the road again…

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Last week hubs and I flew to San Diego to use up a trip credit and ‘relax’ for a few days. I didn’t take a camera as my phone takes such great shots. I did however become a shooting fool, taking over 200 images, few of which are going to have any art value. ¬†Here’s a few…

sf la-bad_day

Taking off from Oakland we flew over San Francisco.

Coming back we flew over LA. I don’t recall EVER seeing LA from the air before. It was literally wall to wall concrete.

Also on the return salt ponds….many images of those!




I am always intrigued by the proximity of the city to the San Diego airport. The city has literally grown around the airport with one runway shared by both inbound and outbound flights.  Coming in we just cleared the Air and Space Museum (ironic) in Balboa Park. I was always checking out the inbound planes.

low-plane-car-rentallow-plane  We toured Little Italy and sampled some wine, cheese and prosciutto! Yum…I loved the old/new contrasts of the buildings,


 the famous sign

famousstruck me as humorous because to some people 1950 is so long ago but it is in my lifetime.

There were chocolate bars


and pastapasta in an old italian grocery store.

muralsWe spent time in the Logan Barrio checking out the Chicano Park murals…gorgeous!

And visited the “Hotel del” (Coronado) for a behind the scenes tour.


We went to the zoo so hubs could take 47 photos of a panda in the same position with a lamp over his head chewing on a bamboo lollipop.


I visited my cousin also that day!


We also went to the aquarium, the Visions Art Museum in search of my work in the Del Thomas Quilt Collection. It wasn’t there but it sure impressed the docents to know my work was in in the collection and there I was in the flesh inquiring about it. That gave me quite a chuckle.

We also took a harbor cruise, went to the firefighters museum where I was captivated by any number of mundane patterns and textures like this fire

We went to Torrey Pines Reserve for an ‘easy’ hike and I found love in the form of gelato in LaJolla.


Now that I am back and pretty much caught up with paperwork I plan to take all this inspiration back to the studio and see what happens!