70 for 70…

December 5th, 2017

The Naked Truth, detail

After a year of musing about being almost 70, this week it actually happens!

To celebrate I’ve priced several pieces of my work for just $70 apiece for December 11, 12, 13.

Go have a gander at the 70 for 70 page on my website so and see if there is something that speaks to you. If so, shoot me an email, either through my website contact form or by private message. Tell me the title(s) you want with your name, address and phone number and I will invoice you via Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account tell me that as well and I will call you for your credit card info.

The small print on the sale is this:  sale applies only to the work on the 70 for 70 page. I will charge $5.95 sales tax on each piece sold, but will waive the (US) shipping . On December 14, 2017 all prices revert to their original (from $200-$2700) . All sales are final. 

I have designed well over 200 quilts since the turn of the century (I love that expression!). I have been blessed to sell a lot of work to both private patrons and corporate clients. I have given some as gifts, including baby quilts. I have donated work to charitable fundraisers.

There is little that brings me more joy than seeing my work go live with someone who absolutely loves it! That and the idea that ‘she who dies with the most quilts does not win’ are the motivation for this sale. It gives me a chance to whittle down inventory of work that I no longer show, while allowing those who love it to afford it. It is my birthday gift to you!

As far as turning 70, I feel so incredibly blessed to be doing so! You will never hear me whine about getting old, as it is a privilege not granted to all. I have felt heartache through the loss of dear friends and kin; so many who never saw 70, or even 60 for that matter. Mom died at 67, David at 56, Rose at 59, Chris at 67, with Ahlzeimer’s claiming both my dear Aunt Judy and my little ‘sis Debbie in their early 60’s. I owe it to all of these folks to live life to the fullest and appreciate each new day!

So bring it on…the best is yet to be.

coming ’round the corner…

November 25th, 2017

Defining Moments 23: The Aging Optimist

Today I photographed no. 23 in the Defining Moments series and put it up on my website. This piece, The Aging Optimist was another that sat in my head for weeks, figuring out how to design it. I had yet another roll of strips made of scraps from which I had started the series and I wanted to carry forth that same idea, although in the early work it referenced the Christian cross. On this piece I wanted it to represent the growing vine, the road traveled or any other metaphor for aging. I discovered though that the strip, already congested with many seams was not going to curve around and make a tight corner. So I cut it into sections, which almost resembles vertebrae and constructed my winding path from there.

strips that started the series

Now I am starting the text for no. 24. Again, all but done in my head, only to be done in real time and stitched. No. 25 is a true collaboration so no deadline stress! It will happen when it does. So there I am three plus years and 24 quilts later. A grand sense of accomplishment, indeed!

Throughout this project I have acquired both new skills and new equipment. The challenge remains to continue to create work that says something, tells a story, sparks conversation, gets people to think and put it out into the world. I do have my work cut out for me (haha)!

Meanwhile I have come up with a truly inspirational way to celebrate my 70th. Other than the spa day and dinner out, this is a way for me to spread the love and give back just a little bit. Stay tuned for the deets …

 

on deadlines…

November 2nd, 2017

scraps

Today while looking through birthday cards for all my favorite winter babies, I came across one with the grim reaper on it. Somehow it did not strike me as excessively funny.¬†Yet as one who is rapidly approaching a new decade, a BIG birthday (as if they are not all big) I didn’t find it particularly amusing. The punchline however was something about life having a deadline.

Which got me to thinking about the word deadline having the word dead as part of it. We never say I have a lifeline on Thursday unless of course we are anticipating some sort of help, escape or spa appointment. No we say I have a deadline on Thursday.

For me, the past 3.5 years of my art-making has been driven by a deadline. This self-imposed deadline is to finish the Defining Moments series by my 70th birthday. The idea of this partnership was each of us was to design and sew 25 big quilts before my December 2017 birthday. I am now designing #23 and where my partner in this project is, remains a mystery!

At least semi-annually my husband has said that I had put a big whambo (he has his own dialect) on myself in setting this deadline. I just brushed it off, half thinking he was right while the other half was driven to make it.

Because I keep great documentation of my work, I am able to share this exciting bit of trivia with you. For this series, in 2014 I made 4 pieces, 2015 was 5 pieces, 2016 was 6 pieces and year to date I have made 7.5 ! So clearly I function best with a deadline, grim reaper or not!

I did get a hitch in my deadline driven rhythm this week though when my wondrous dream machine had major tension problems. Hubs and I spent the better part of two days recording non-existent numbers & running the gamut from no tension to high tension on both top and bobbin. All this achieved was sheer frustration, an enormous waste of thread and several lovely samplers such as this. Finally I threw up the white flag, contacted the dealer, got his input and voila today finished stitching the background of no.23. I am back in business!

Granted I am not going to make the deadline, but I am so close that I am very pleased! This leaves me wondering what my next deadline will be?

stress inducer 101

inspiration in unexpected places…

October 23rd, 2017

doodle

Yesterday five women came to my studio to see what I do. This idea started over the course of a year when a long time friend from the local quilt guild said she wanted to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in my studio. Then another local friend of 40+ years mentioned that she too wanted to see my work and how I do it. Then a third wanted to see my work, and in turn invited two of her friends. It took the longest thread in the history of email to find a date that worked for all five people, as we of the retired tribe do love our travel!

I had some reservations as I am not big on being observed while working; just ask my husband! Nor do I much like doing Open Studios, which I have done once. I just want to make my work and essentially be left alone while doing so! Why else did my daughter hand-stitch a SCRAM sign for my studio door, years ago?!

The challenge for me was to figure out what parts of my process would be interesting to others, and how much time to allocate before my body would be unwilling to stand any longer. Finally I decided to demo the Thermofax screen-making process, the screen-printing process, stitching on the new love of my life, the Juki mid-arm, talk about digital fabric printing and lastly show some work that incorporated all of the above. I pulled about 8 or 9 pieces from my various series, and talked about each piece. I envisioned the visit lasting about two hours, with no refreshments, only art process.

It was delightful! There were lots of questions and photo taking and more questions.Two hours breezed by and my only physical complaint was minor voice strain. And the most unexpected thing happened. After they left I realized that I was so completely psyched about my own work! What greater inspiration to keep going?

Meanwhile…no. 22 in the Defining Moments series is finished, but not yet photographed. The second layer of paint was laid on the background of no. 23 during yesterday’s studio visit. The text for the overlay design is printed so this week I will get to batting & backing and get this puppy stitched, so that I can then design the piece. No. 24 has been rattling around in my head for weeks, and going through many configurations. After yesterday’s studio visit, it became abundantly clear exactly what I need to do, so this morning I trashed rendition #2 which was essentially creating way too much work for myself, and am now enthused about rendition #3!

I am now six weeks shy of the self-imposed deadline of 25 large pieces before my 70th birthday, but not the least bit worried. Rather I am excited about this huge endeavor I took on and have achieved. Stay tuned…

reflections on completion…

October 2nd, 2017

reflections on the Seine

As I round the corner on the final lap of Defining Moments, a three year series, I seem to be experiencing a wealth of emotion! ¬†I am so pleased with myself that I’ve nearly met this self-imposed goal of 25 large pieces in 3 years time. Realistically I know I will not meet it precisely, and likely run into January, yet I am not worried. It is not a competition! I have four pieces left to do and two require enormous prep.

Right now I am stitching the background of no. 22. The design is drafted and one of these evenings I will throw it on the overhead projector and trace it, making the template. I figure the background stitching and the template making will likely happen in the same 24 hours.

No. 23 is in my head, partially designed, partially not. No. 24 is also in my head and yes it is getting crowded in there. No. 24, while rather simplistic in design will require hours and hours of PhotoShop work. I started last week to make a sample and oy! My head hurt after a few hours, so I have decided I need to eat this elephant in bites. Ideally if I can spend two hours a day in PhotoShop designing this piece, it should be ready to print and stitch by the end of October! Then I will have two more months to make the last two pieces.

And yet…also jammed in there with all the ideas, between the how to manifest these ideas and the sense of extreme accomplishment is the what now? or the actual what then? Try as I might to stay in this moment, I am beginning to obsess about the work I hope I will make once this series is done! These thoughts actually started about 6-7 months ago, and I brushed them aside. I will think about that when I get there. Well, now the light in the tunnel is getting closer and I am beginning to fret. What if I have a long dry spell? What if? What if?

So for now, I just plod along, a third in procrastination mode, another third in get her done mode and the final third in what if? mode. I never realized until recently how much a plan and a goal inspires my creativity.

Was there ever a better time to live in the moment?

 

what I learned on my summer vacation…

September 13th, 2017

Five Sails, Canada Place, Vancouver BC

We chose the perfect week to take an Alaska cruise as it was hotter than hell in the SF Bay Area the first week of September. We were instead basking in the autumnal glow of the Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska. Normally autumn in the Bay Area is my favorite time of year, but this one just feels too warm. Gee, I wonder why? There must be some science behind it…ya think?!

Stanley Park totem, Vancouver BC

We flew to Vancouver via Seattle where hubs ran into my cousin who was waiting for the same flight to Vancouver. They were sailing the day before us on another cruise line… what a coincidence!

In the end we surrendered our seats on that overbooked flight and came away with $800 in travel credits on Alaska Air, arriving on another airline just an hour later. When we arrived at our hotel in Vancouver, we were upgraded to a bay-view suite on the 19th floor overlooking Stanley Park, the cruise ship terminal, the mountains and the entire bay where the float planes landed and took off. It was pretty incredible. Truly our airplane seat karma had already paid off!

one of two sunsets we witnessed onboard ship

We spent a day and a half exploring Vancouver, which had changed a bit since I was last there…in 8th grade! All I remembered was rain, but it was sunny and beautiful, and in fact they are having a drought. Lawns are dead now and it is wall-to-wall glass skyscrapers of condos. Still, it is a gorgeous location, between the Gulf Islands and the mountain ranges.

Kenai Fjords Natl Park

We sailed from Vancouver to Seward, AK on Silversea. I chose this cruise line because of their small ships which are able to maneuver into smaller waterways and ports. Although every port where we docked there were also the behemoth cruise ships. So much for that reasoning!

There were so many great things about this cruise line, but the best far and away, was no one under 18 allowed. There were no kids running and screaming anywhere, anytime. It was wonderful and truly felt like a respite.

The second best thing was we had our own butler and suite maid! Granted they served many customers, but you need something, you pick up the phone and voila! it’s there. We ate all our breakfasts and several dinners en suite, all delivered, set up and taken away by our butler.

Ketchikan

The third best were the enrichment lectures. The speaker was Kevin Miller from VisionBound. His talks about the towns and cities we were to visit were really interesting, but I was sold by his talk on Insights and Tips for Communicating with the Other Gender and his talk on The Four Generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Milliennials).  I thought being wed 46 years that I could probably give the first talk, but alas I still learned something! And the talk about the generations also was incredibly enlightening for us as we have a Gen X daughter.

Our butler was from New Delhi and gorgeous! He spoke really quickly so I got about every tenth word. Instead I just smiled a lot! Our maid was from the Philippines and had been away from her 7 yr old daughter cleaning cruise rooms for ten months. So the first thing I learned on my summer vacation was a reminder about gratitude for the life I live, the blessings of travel, and that we are still physically able to travel. Travel truly opens one’s eyes to just how fortunate we are.

autumn colors, Sitka

iceberg, Hubbard Glacier

When I traveled solo to Japan in 2002 I remember seeing alongside the train tracks, miles and miles of high rise buildings with tiny apartments within. I was stunned how so many live in such small spaces while I have an entire house to call home. On that trip I became so aware of cultural differences, and even more so how greedy (and spoiled) we are about our square footage in the States.

It is said travel expands horizons, which is so true. There are many in this country who need to get out more, to see and assimilate just how fortunate they truly are.

Back to Alaska…Although we had previously seen Denali and the interior of Alaska as well as sailed the Norwegian fjords, I figured the coast of Alaska would basically look the same as it is roughly the same latitude. Wrong! It was spectacular beyond belief…the force of nature reflected throughout the inside passage, the mountain ranges, clouds, waterfalls, fjords, glaciers; all just incredibly gorgeous.

We walked to the Totem museum and Ms. Dolly’s (bordello) in Ketchikan, saw the Mendenhall Glacier and State Museum in Juneau, took a roundtrip train trip to the Canadian border in Skagway, communed with my Russian predecessors in Sitka, took a 4 hr rail trip from¬†Seward to Anchorage, and then toured Anchorage. We averaged about 2.5-3 miles of walking a day, pretty good for two folks with wobbly parts.

Before leaving I bought a pair of Nike ‘running shoes’ as I didn’t want to take my walking shoes as they are so heavy. I loved the red (and black) so I bought them, and didn’t think much more about it. Well listen, I had no less than four young people, one as young as 10 I would guess, go ape over my red Nikes! Who knew I was so cool? I just cared that I found shoes that fit, irregardless of them being red and high fashion!

TurnAgain Arm

 

another day, another glacier!

tundra from the train

By weeks end, I had hemmed, hawed and vacillated about booking another cruise for next year. Would hubs be able to travel next year, could he keep up? Worry, worry, fret, fret. I slept on it and in the morning another reminder emerged.

None of us knows how we will feel next month, let alone next year. If we wait until the stars are all aligned, we will go nowhere nor do anything. Just do it …and in red shoes! ¬†(thx Nike)

These are but a few pics. My usual shape, pattern, texture collages are posted to Instagram if you care to check it out.

cloud porn from return flight

aging and ageism…

August 25th, 2017

detail, Anti-Aging

Today while hand-stitching down facings on new work I decided to listen to some TED talks I had saved. What a revelation! Ok, so I am late to the party. Being a visually oriented person I have had life-long trouble figuring out the best way to assimilate information. It was not college, it is not books, it is not any form of lengthy written word. It is occasionally Kindle and occasionally not! It is basically by hearing or doing. So today I listened to five TED talks and came away with an entirely new appreciation for tidbits of information.

One such talk was about putting an end to ageism. Essentially the idea is ageism is the last frontier of social issues. We’ve acquired voting rights, women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, etc. Now is the time to end ageism.

Every one of us, if we are so blessed will get OLD. Because I have lost three friends to cancer, at ages 56, 59 and 67, I NEVER complain about getting older. It is a privilege not granted to all. There are tremendous advantages to aging, not the least of which is no longer giving a shit about stuff that made us frantic with worry early on. Yet in this culture OLD is not revered but instead seen as some sort of cast-aside wizen, useless creature.

It was so good for me to listen to this TED talk, and to be reminded that so much of my own programming contributes to ageism. It is as if sometimes I don’t expect as much from myself, because well, I am getting OLDer. And yet I gave away the rocker after the baby was grown. I am actively making art, actively exercising, actively traveling, actively interacting with friends and actively try to learn and understand. I am an active almost 70 year old with some physical challenges. My goal is to acknowledge those which are real and those which are old school propaganda about aging.¬†It is time to throw out that old, sagging stereotypical thinking.

OLD PEOPLE ROCK…as in caveman!

 

knowing when to stop…

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…

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…

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…