Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Two sides to every coin

Yesterday as I was riding in my car with my youngest son who was driving in what I term his New England way and not like a Kentuckian. Or maybe I should say he drives just like a guy while I drive like a woman. My way doesn't make you want to step on the brakes for the driver when you think they are not braking soon enough or make you reach for the stabilizer bar on the door, as though holding on for dear life.

As we rode I talked to my daughter-n-law who I have refer to on this blog as Saint Maryellen. I had her laughing. A great sound. Since my Myke, his wife and daughter Joslyn lives in RI and I in KY I don't see him or them often, but in the last 20 months I have seen him three times. All because of the most solomn of occassions, the death of a family member. Maryellen or Mel as we call her for short, said she has to send Myke to see me for other reasons, otherwise seeing him will become a not so pleasant thing. My reply to her which caused the laughing was me saying that there were two side to a funeral, the good side which is the fun of seeing family and friends you haven't seen in some time, the bad side was that someone had to died in order for you to do it.

Sadness and Joy, two sides of the same coin.

I love seeing him no matter what. Good times or bad. Just as I've enjoyed seeing all of the other family members and friends that I don't get to see often because we all have LIVES and our pathes that don't often cross.

With funerals there are always tears, but if you are part of a family that smiles dispite the tears. Who hold their heads high. Who see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Who gathered to celebrate a life well lived rather them bemoan a lose. You know we've shared lots of smiles over the last few days and many times during these last few days there has been outright, from deep down inside, joy filled laughter.

Now Back To QUILTS
I picked up an old friend from the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft while I was in the city yesterday. I haven't seen it since I delivered it to the museum when they were getting a collection of contemporary quilts ready to tour Western Europe last summer for an exhibit in some of our US Embassies. Don't ask me which ones. All I know is that they were going in conjunction with Presdent Bush's visit to that part of the world. If the museum sends me some images of the work when on display as I asked them to do I'll try to show them to you.

This is my old friend, Night Vision 26" x 50" 2004 I woke one night with the image of this flower in my head, hence the name. I had to make it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Playing hard

Thought I'd give you a look at where I've been since Wednesday afternoon. I know you know I have been with Marti and we have been PLAYING HARD dyeing fabric. I have known for a long time that every dime a hand dyer charges for her fabric is justified. Dyeing fabric as I need it is far different from getting up everyday and dyeing in quantities for selling. That is a JOB!!!

What I am doing is FUN. So far I have dyed 60 yards and so has Marti. We are planning to dye maybe 20-30 more tomorrow before calling it quits for now. Here is a look at the space we use in the Spring/Summer for dyeing.

This is our staging area, or "the plotting zone" , a table top in her studio. We sit here on bar highth stools swiped from her casual living area.

The garage; this is where we do the messy stuff. George (her husband) is so supportive, I don't think he would mind the mess is he was home, however we usually take the opportunity when he is away fishing to get a lot of dyeing done. We use a low water immersion process and the color recipes taught by Carol Suderland. Are you taking notice of all the Baskin Robbins plastic 1/2 Gallon tubs? They will hold a three yard piece of fabric if need be. But most often we dye what we call a skinny yard which is 30 inches wide by 72 inches long. We use Kona PFD 60 inch wide. I discovered how great the BR tubs were when I first started dyeing in the early 90's. We use these containers instead of food freezer bags.

In the tubs in the long run are cheaper, they out last zip bags, plus there is no leaking and they stack. Some of the 3 plus dozens we have I collected because I love BR black walnut ice cream and used to eat it quite often. Most were sold to me by the BR store. OF course they looked dumb struck when they learned what I did with them.

BAD BAD GRANDMA I did not go to my granddaughter’s dance recital on Friday. I had made plans to attend an art exhibit opening at the Carnegie before I knew her dance recital was on the same night that Alma Lucille was showing her shabori and sculptures. I purchased one of her sculptures which were a HOT item. I think all she had on exhibit were purchased before the reception was over. I'll show you what I brought when the show ends and I can bring it home.

Olivia did just great I was told. She did not have to dance without supporters. She had her Mom, her maternal Grandma, and Papa, her Aunt Lyn and Rene’ and several other relatives there to cheer her own. I got to hear her sing her numbers last night, because she came to spend the night with me.

Here is what she looked liked on stage, she is second from the left and up close.

I have talked about my grandson John so often that I thought you should see who I am talking about

See what I said about him being tall enough to look at the top of my head. Kind of cute too. But a typical 15 year old with an only child syndrome dispite him not being an only child. He is however the youngest boy in the family and knows how to playthat fact for all it is worth.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where shall I begin.

not from the beginning, that would take forever. So I will just catch you up on what's been happenings in my life since last Tuesday morning.

Tuesday afternoon I needed a touch of normalness, so I went to my friend Marti's as planned to begin preparing for a scheduled marthon sessions of fabric dyeing. We have been joint dyeing for several years. Dyeing in her basement in the Winter and in her garage in the Spring. We often plan our dying sessions for times when Marti's husband is away on trips.

This time he is away fishing in the wilds of Canada. When the cat is away the mice work their butts off. We began our dyeing in earnest on Wednesday, beginning with what is Liz Axford's method of making triples dyed fabric. Our first dyeing workshop was with Liz at Arrowmont in 2001.

Triple dyeing is a multi step process. You dye the fabric one color let it set for for 30 minutes then add soda ash and let set, this is done two more times using two other colors each time. This process gives you a totally different look than what can be achieved by mixing all three colors together and dyeing in one step. I use the Triple dyes I create in my work primarily as backgrounds because they are a visually interesting neutral.

Both Marti and I took a dyeing class from Carole Souderland at the Crow Barn several years ago and I love her method and recipes for producing specific colors that are reproduceable. We have selected dozens of our favorite colors to dye as single colors and/or as gradations of that color.

Since I have decided to use my own hand dyes exclusively in the work I will be creating in the next few months I need a lot of fabric to add to the large store of fabric I already have. However I am not sure if I will be dyeing all 180 yards of the fabric I ordered during this dyeing session.

Since I could not import images to my blog site while in Columbia I will give you a photo update of what I have been doing and seeing there since I last posted with images.

John's art class project.

My artist date included a trip to the Columbia Library.

From my favorite seat on the second floor of the library this is what I can see to my left.
and this is the view to my right.

Here are the two pieces I made while at Lyn's during the week of my latest trip out there. These pieces measure approximaely 45 inches square give or take an inch in each direction.

I find I am doing more simplistic stuff while at Lyn's. I think that is because of the lack of a design wall. The fact is that if I got going on something REALLY, REALLY WONDERFUL and could not complete it or transported it back to Louisville easily I know I would be extremely unhappy if I had to leave it there until I could get back to it weeks later.

, these two quilts are from my most recent trip proving that I am working

this one is from the other trip three weeks or so ago. Remember?

Then there is this one completed while back in Louisvile for a short time. LIMITED TIME WORKS I guess is what I should label what I am doing now.

Here is a look at the new house in its unfinished state.
The view through a dirty window on the deck level or main floor of the back yard. The house is on a fall away lot so the area I will have on the lower level has great southeast facing windows.

Will finish my update tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Returned to Louisville on Saturday for a heart wrenching reason. My dearest sis-n-law Lillian was loosing her battle with ovarian cancer and she had asked that I be her medical surragate which I agreed to be. She was admitted to the Hospital on Friday evening. Moved to a Hospice unit on Monday when we knew there was nothing more that could be done. She left us today. Five years to the date she learned she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. She will be missed and she will be remembered.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday already; my how times does fly.

This week has gone by so fast, I can hardly believe it is Friday already. I am working on a second quilt and I am having fun creating. You know you are having fun when you have to tell yourself to go to bed at 2 in the morning and six hours later when the eyes open you are ready to get back at it even before that first cup of coffee. Which is what I did this morning. I am eating breakfast as I sit here now. Multi-tasking.

The newest quilt is a very simple motif. I did this on purpose so that I could put more thought into the colors I wanted to use. The repeat pattern and motif lends itself to stripped piecing which makes the piecing and assembly fast

I have one other idea that I want to explore while here this trip if I have time.
I plan to go back to Louisville with these ideas and begin working in a series with them to see how far I can push the three concepts hopefully into some interesting original work. I will reserve judgement on what I am working on now until I get back on either Sunday or Monday.

I will put images of the first two on the blog as soon as I can

They are predicting rain on Saturday and Sunday and I dislike driving in the rain for long distances so I will try to wait the rain out. However I can not push the waiting too far. I need to be back no later than Wednesday I have a full six days planned out with my friend Marti. We will be dyeing fabric.

I really wish I could download photo images into this blog from here because there are rose bushes growing all over the city and they are in bloom, fragrant and just beautiful. I'll take a few pictures of them for you to see. I love roses. But then again I love all flowers.

There is a new game out that John wanted for his Play station(?) so as a belated birthday present we went off to Best Buy to get it and of course while I was in the store with him I brought an Ipod. Back at Lyn's I put my current favorite cds into it and it is GREAT. Of course I did this without any trouble at all, thanks to John.

AND I AM LISTENING NOW as I blog. Stopping on occasions to sing or get up and boogie. It's a good thing no one is home to see me when I break out into full dance mode or hear me singing at full volume. The laughter would be heard round the world. God passed me over when it came to giving me a talent for singing and dancing but I am living proof of this advise for life. "Sing like no one's listening, dance like no one's watching." YOU DO THE SAME.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My artist date

Today I took myself out of the house and on an artist date here in Columbia only to reaffirm my growing love for the place. On my date I visited the Columbia Art League, took a self directed tour around their gallery and talked to a very nice volunteer who was manning the desk. There was only one piece of fiber art in the gallery to my disappointment. It was a small 12 by 18 inch landscape with some three dimensional aspects. Part of what was a border was woven with yarn and incorporated with areas of silk and rayon, then quilted. The art piece was framed and under glass much like a painting.

I also went to the main library one of my favorite places in the world no matter what city I’m in, but here in Columbia the library really makes you feel at home with comfortable upholstered arm chairs, individual tables with lamps and plenty of help when you have a question. They have a very user friendly computerized system for looking up information on whatever subject, or author you want and the computer stations are numerous and conveniently located throughout the library’s three floors.

I am working on a second design that I started yesterday in colors that are much more exciting to me, yet still different from what I have used in the past. I am not having a lot of luck uploading photo images to my blog site because of the slow dial up connection I have to use. So I will have to save them and show them to you when I get back to cable broad band.

You stay and think young when there are young people in you life. John refuses to let me turn into an old fuddy duddy. "You're not OLD, BoBo" he says to me often. He has an Ipod and I have decided I WANT ON. Heretofore I have been perfectly happy with the 5 disc player and a wireless head set. I have listened to book on cd on it too. The disadvantage is that from somewhere other then in the room where the cd player is located you have no way of stopping the cd when something else needs your immediate listening attention. Then I remember how convenient it was when I once listened to books on tape with a casset player. The smaller the casset player the better to fit into a pocket and go with you and you could always stop it and restart it where you left off.

That's the advantages of the Ipod. I WANT ONE.
I listened to The Divinci Code that John had downloaded onto his Ipod. It was nice to listen to it that way. I WANT ONE.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A new direction, different pathways,the journey continues

I do my best thinking in bed. Spirit comes to visit me there more than any other place when I am in need of inspiration and guidance. This morning as I was abed sipping my first cup of coffee for the day I began to have gentle mind rumblings of dissatisfaction about where I was going with my work. This morning I wasn't sure if those rumbling were because I know in the next two months a lot about my life will change. With the change in physical location maybe Spirit thought I needed a gentle nudge toward changes in other things too, including my art. But that wasn't entirely it.

As I linged a little longer in bed than I should have considering I had a 10 AM meeting I realized my sense of unrest was my way of experiencing a sense of LOSS.

LOSS? Yes. What I have lost is my direction, my purpose and my reason on many days for getting out of bed and going into my studio to work. For over three years my art goal and creative direction was toward having enough quilts for my exhibit.


I have worked with flowers for years and I am not saying that I am tired of working with them because I'm not. A flower in full bloom will set my heart singing no matter how horrible the day. I have enjoyed making all of my quilts when flowers have been the theme. But now I want to do something else. But what is that SOMETHING ELSE I asked myself this morning while showering and getting dressed for the day.

Sometimes after these mind expanding visits from SPIRIT, I can better clarify what is going on in my head when I can use one or more of my support group buds as a sounding board. This morning, both Marti and Kathy L filled the bill as we rode to the Carnegie for another meeting for Form Not Function.
I talked to Marti first for about 15 minutes on the way from my house to Kathy L's and talked to Kathy L for 20 minutes as we rode to the Carnegie.

Exploring non-representation abstraction as a way for me to express my creativity has been running around in my mind for a while now, I told both of them, but I could not see how I could go there while I was still working on the solo show. Any work I would have produced would not have the same feel of the work that I summitted to the gallery at the time I made the proposal. Mid stream was not time to abandon the boat.

But now the time is right to start in a new direction and explore different pathways. For the next two years I don't have a committment for more work than I currently have on hand. My next solo show is not until mid 2008 and I have not locked myself into a theme with that show.

JUST KNOWING THAT, and knowing that I have two years to explore where these new directions and pathways can lead is a great feeling. Marti and I have plotted out 7-8 days this month on which to dye a bunch of fabric for our up coming works, We both ordered 180 yards.

While I have always intergrated both commercial prints and my own handdyed fabric in my work, I am at this moment, leaning more toward using just my hand dyes in future work.

My color pallet has changed in the last year and the hues I am using now are not as intense or as pure as what I have used in my work in the past. Not sure if that is because my work is maturing or I am. There was a time when I wouldn't be caught dead fondling a piece of brown fabric. Talk about a different path, yesterday there I was in my studio pulling pieces of different values and hues of brown fabric from my stash. Arranging and rearranging them with some dirty yellows and low intensity reds and greens, seriously contemplating what I can make with the pile that was growing before my eyes.

Come along with me, see where the paths lead and let's hope it's not a bumpy ride.

Art on our minds

Tonight I went to my monthly support group meeting of (RCFA) RIver City Fiber Artist which meets at Marti's house and once again I left filled with energy and thoughtfulness. Kathy L amazes me with the amount of work she can turn out from one month to the next. She was on two different paths and both were very interesting and well thought out. As always there were comments and critiques. This pictures shows Marti and Joanne.

Marti has two new designs in the full size carton stage as well as three small pieces that she showed that were completed since our last meeting. Joanne is starting a new study and experimenting with the look and visual effects of same hue procion dyes on different fabrics, such as hemp, raw silk, cotton, organza and is keeping a book with samples of the results. HUMMMMMM!

This image shows, Kathy, Pat and Valarie

Pat is moving along on a landscape piece she is working on and Valarie showed us a piece she had reworked and we all hardily agreed that what she had done made a very good piece better.

Kathy L also came up with a new way of applying a facing to a quilt that I will leave it to her to introduce the method to the world. Her method would make a really good article for Quilting Arts or the like.

Have pulled fabric for a new piece. It is rare that I get an idea of what the quilt should be titled before I start to draw a carton or give serious thought to the approach I plan to take. But the idea of earth came to me in the form of the title, "The Good Earth" I visualized brown and red-brown soil and green that could suggest grass. Haven't decided what else I want to include in the composition or if I will keep the scope of the piece very narrow to depict soil or dirt or broaden the scope to include something else. HMMMM.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Latest piece completed

Here is the finished quilt. I tried a new way of facing this quilt and liked the look of it from the back and the process for doing it. I also tried a different stabilizer than what I usually use and have had very good luck with in the past. MY QUILTS ARE FLAT and if they are not perfectly square it is my fault and not because the material is being tempermental as was the case with the stabilizer I used this time.

It simply wasn't firm enough for this whole cloth quilt. There is more quilting in the pedals than in the background and that caused a noticable rippling of the edges of the quilt, more so at the top and the bottom edges than the sides.

I guess I will have to rack my noodle to see if I can rectify the ripples without having to take the sleeves off top and bottom and quilt more in the background area.

Yes I have layed it flat and steamed the bejeebees out of it as my friend Marti advises.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

and the winner was

It's the day after and the sky is grey as if sad because all the hoopla is over. Yesterday the weather for the Derby was wonderful. All the women in their finery were comfortable if they choose to wear a jacket with their outfit. Hats wearing at the Derby is tradtional and the tradition was honored fully yesterday with hats some awesome and some awful. Which ever they were they did not blow off the head, the wind was fairly calm. The rain did not come as had been predicted a few days out; sunscreen was definately advised.

All in all no matter what you are doing, if you have so little as a smidge of Kentucky in you heart or veins when they blow the trumpet; the call to the post, you stop in your tracks, your heart quickens and tears began to well at the singing of My Old Kentucky Home. I having been born in this Commonwealth and married to a man who LOVED the horses these moments are memory filled. I've spent many hours of my life under the twin spires of the Downs as we call this world famous racetrack locally. The Derby for him was better than (dare I say Christmas).

I did not for a second wish to be among the masses there yesterday. I have been there and done that and while it was fun when I was doing it, there are now more fun things that rank higher on my list of things to do.

Dispite my plans to stay home and work, my friends the Kathie/y(s) called and we went to lunch. On my return, my beloved sister-n-law (we are widows of brothers) called and said she and I were invited to her friend Madeline's house for dinner and to cheer on the horses running in the Derby. My sis-n-law was not feeling her best yesterday. With effort she drove to my house and I drive us the much greater distance to her friend's house. Madeline is Jamacan by birth and still has that lovely lyrical way of speaking that makes you want to mimic her. I can not imagine, no matter how anger filled the words may be that come from your lips with that accent could sound harsh.

So out of the studio I can for the second time and went off to a very good dinner and the pleasant company of all females. Madeline's home decor was like a trip to the tropics in a not overly done cliched way. The ages of the females there were me the oldest and I'm not telling my age, to the youngest Jewel Renee age 5.

Madeline made among other things a delicious beans and rice dish. And of course we had Derby Pie for desert. Derby pie is sort of a pecan pie with chocolate chips in it. I guess you could equate the taste somewhat to a heavily endowed with chocolate chips Tollhouse cookie with pecans. Kerns a local bakery is known for having invented this pie.

I did get back to the studio for a period prior to bedtime and I am still pleased with the look of what I am working on. As a result I have other ideas rollig around in the old nogging for using this process.

My third open house is today and I have the only large unit currently for sale in this very popular condo community, so let hope today is the day. As a result of the open house I will have to vacate from 2 to 5 so I think I'll take myself off to see Mission Impossible 3.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Derbying today.....NOT

Louisville is known for other things besides Churchill Downs, but right now I can not think of a thing. Especially not today when all the racing world and most common folk are waiting for 6:40 PM when the Derby race is scheduled to begin. Two minutes to greatness.

Started yesterday on a new idea... a new direction born from an old love. The love is watercoloring. I have always wanted to be a watercolorist, a painter. I think this medium goes well with my love of flowers. I have strived to achieve a painterly look in my floral quilts for a long time and to some extent I think I have come as close as I can with the expertise I have at present.

I spent yesterday morning leafing through and reading some pages in a very large book titled "Painting: Master Class" and got the itch to paint something. As I mulled over the properties and possibilities of of paint and fabric a light bulb came on.

Off to the studio I went to try the idea that was growing in the old brain.
Here is the result of what I tried to do. This is fabric paint on Raw silk.

I used Jacquard Dye-na-flow, textile paints and oil pastels. The back ground is stamped. I I used a stamp I made two summers ago and hadn't tried since then.

It is now 8:15 in the morning and I am eating breakfast as I am blogging. I was awake at 4:00 AM coughing, (Darn allergies). I told myself to go back to sleep, BUT COULDN'T. I picked up some knitting that I keep in the bed for those time when I do wake in the night. Knitting always until this morning puts me in a relaxed state, bores me actually and I go back to sleep.

I knitted three rows on my current pick up project. No signs of sleep came. I got up and went to the studio where I finished sandwiching the top and began free motion quilating.

I like what I have done so far as a first try with a new direction. So today I will be DERBYING IN THE STUDIO.... Heres hope you have the winner.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A day wthout sunshine

Yesterday the sun took a vacation but this day came in with lots of sunshine, aah.

When I can not or do not get to my stdio and put may hands on some fabric it seems as though the day was a real waste. Last night when I went to bed I had that feeling of a wasted day. In my own defense I did not dwaddle the day away. I a large part of the day entering quilt data into the new "My Art Collection" program. I am up to 58 entires and I shutter to think of the number of quilts I have made, sold and have no images of. Entering the data as accurately as I could meant; I had to get out the quilts, measure them make digital images of some, reroll them and return them all to the "Quilt Studio Closet", the title I have bestowed upon the first of two walk in closet in the master bedroom.

It also made me go in search of slides of a dozen or more quilts I no longer have because they were sold and/or ones that are too large for me to take good images of in my studio space.

I have a scanner that takes the images from slide and plants them in the computer but I have never figured out how to do it, so George, the husband of my friend Marti said he could do this for me so sometimes before he goes fishing at the end of this month I will ask him to do this BIG FAVOR for me.

I answered e-mail yesterday and sent off workshop information to the organizer of a Quilters Retreat that is held annually in Southbury, CT. in November. I've taught there several times and always enjoy the resort style hotel and the women who attend.

I did a little knitting last night because I did not want the studio to look any messier than it does normally. A looker who I hope will turns out to be a buyer is coming today at 2:30 with an agent. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Now I am fiddle-farting around until 2:15. That the time when I have to dissapear for 30 to 45 minutes. I think I'll take myself out for a late lunch.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I tried it and I liked it.

I am rather disorganized when it comes to paperwork. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I have been looking for an idiot proof way for keeping up with my quilts past, present and future, for many years. I was reading my e-mail this morning and found a post concerning a program titled "My Art Collection". While it appeared at first glance that the program looks like it was designed more for collectors of art, rather than makers of the art, it does make recording information about my work simplier than working with a spreadsheet and keeping a separate file of photo images. The company will let you test drive their program to see if you like it before you buy it,I did. Then I brought it.

I just have to remember to back up my files just in case my computer dies like the others ones I've had did.

Go check it out if you have thought of documenting your work.