31 July 2008

beating back the boredom

When I was 24 years old I managed to blow out two discs in my lower back. I had surgery to correct it but its never been the same and its never stopped hurting. To say that it has made my life interesting is an understatement in a big way.

Every so often my back decides to assert itself and remind me that it is solely in control of my life. This would be one of those times.

I have been stuck on the sofa for two days now and will remain velcroed to this poor piece of furniture for the next three days. Doctor's orders.

Aside from the fact that the drugs have me mildly stoned and I am trying to talk my spine out of its crankiness, I'm faced with a big problem: boredom.

I don't do well sitting still and I had a pretty strong feeling before I went to the doctor that there would be enforced bed rest so I made the proper preparations in order to entertain myself for the long days ahead.

Here's the list:

1) LOTS of reading material

I had a pile of magazines I picked up that I didn't really get to read as thoroughly as I would have liked so I drug them down to the coffee table. Plus one of Jodi Picoult's book. I recently discovered her and really dig her writing style. I have her new one - at work. I grumbled bad words when I realized that but since I have no desire to drive two and a half hours round trip to get it, I'll have to make do with this one.

The magazines are endlessly entertaining. Allow me to share:

  • the latest Quilting Arts magazine - hey Sid? You totally need to check out page 81.
  • Belle Armoire - not a magazine I get all the time but there is some cool stuff in there and I now have the desire to fashion thousands of tiny little bird's nests out of wire (directions in the magazine) while I lay here staring at the ceiling
  • Knitscene and Knitsimple - bring me my needles. I want to knit every single thing in there, regardless of my skill level or lack of sufficient yarn to complete each project. I'll make it work. (I blame the drugs for this way of thinking.)
  • Spin off - I don't spin. But now I want to. (I should have left this one on the shelf, I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head.) But I likes it and they are educating me and....oh, this could be bad...
  • Craft - another one I buy sporadically, mostly because it has a hefty $15 price tag on it. But its very cool and I'm convinced someone there had Leann in mind when they wrote articles on how to alter converse.

2) Something fiber arty-like...

I decided to try knitting or crocheting while laying down. I quickly remembered (after a double pointed needle practically got lodged up my nose - don't ask) that knitting was bad, but crocheting was possible.

I had seen a pair of fingerless gloves online that I liked so I decided to do my version. Here is the first one:

I completely winged it, no pattern. I basically just kept shoving it on my hand to see if it was long enough, snug enough, etc... I was somewhat disgruntled when I realized I had written nothing down...and I have more then one hand. I guess I gotta wing it a second time.

Came out pretty good, although it could just be the drugs making me think that...At any rate, I'll have a pair of these by the end of my sentence.

3) Antagonizing Dooley.

Ah, this reminds me of the grand old days when I would taunt my brother, run away and then look all innocent when my mom would have to come into the room to break up the screeching.

Little man desires to lay on the sofa I am set up on. Too bad. Mine, all mine. You can't have it. Neener-neener-neener...

4) the stupid box

Ugh. Man, TV gets old quick. Although I did get to watch craft shows today, something I usually totally miss due to the day job thingie. I watched Martha Stewart crafts...has anyone else noticed that she talks like she just swallowed half a bottle of Valium? Someone seriously needs to give her voice inflection lessons, I actually nodded off...

I'm runnin' out of things to do already - and I've got three more days to go...

Send entertainment if you can, I'd be grateful. (So will Dooley and my mom.)

30 July 2008

Check out ALL the Breaking Tradition Sneak Peek posts!!!

We're Not Just Women, We are Moms
Jackie Lams

I've had a few requests on how to find all the blog posts I've done so far previewing the art quilts that are coming in for Breaking Traditions 2008.

You asked, I listened, and here ya go! :)

Follow these links and you can view each art quilt and its artist statement that I've featured here so far.

"A Mother's Voice" by Jeanelle McCall

"We're Not Just Women, We are Moms" by Jackie Lams

"Making the Mundane Beautiful" by Beth Shibley and "Robin Remembers" by Crane Johnson

"Safe Haven" by Judi Corrado and "Blue Dog with Red Bone" by Paula Page

All of the art quilts will be featured on my website once the exhibit is hung in September. I'm anxiously awaiting all the wonderful work I know is on the way as the deadline is approaching at the end of August. I will continue to include all the links to previous Sneak Peek posts as I do more so everyone can have an easy time finding them.

I've been VERY moved by the work I have received so far and I know everyone who sees it will be as well!!

And here are the details for everything again, there is still plenty of time to participate if you are interested!

Breaking Traditions
is an open call art quilt exhibit that debuts at The American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan in September. This year, the exhibit will travel to other venues during 2009. The theme this year, With One Voice, pays tribute to all the good that people do. We are also proud to team up with Virgina Spiegel's Fiberart for a Cause project to help raise money for the American Cancer Society! You can read all the details for participating in this year's exhibit here.

Together we can make a huge difference in the world!!!

29 July 2008

the battle wages on

So I set a schedule for myself in terms of getting projects done. Partly because my day job demands that I behave in a disgustingly efficient manner (and those habits spread like a plague into other areas of my life) but also because when I compiled the list of things I needed/wanted to complete, it scared the bejezzus out of me.

I kind of got all sweaty thinking about it all.

So I sat down and decided to ration out time and take a serious stab at crossing each one off. July and August are for me to finish up my artwork, September is for exhibits. So I've got about four more weeks to wrap things up. (I just got a little woozy there...)

So far it has been working, although I have noticed that the universe has a somewhat sick sense of humor. There have been obstacles that, well, just aren't nice. The universe needs a firm talking to, either that or a good whack across the back of the head.

Here's how the score is coming along:

Rotary cutter: 1 ; Lynn: 0

New blades in a rotary cutter are a real treat - until you mow over the side of your index finger with it. I'm still not sure how it happened, I suspect nargels (sorry, been watching Harry Potter lately) but I can't be sure. Seeing as how I am pale as a fish belly, I can now add a new lovely red scar to the every growing collection I have aquired due to my clutziness.

Dooley: 1,349 ; Lynn: 3

Little man does not like to be ignored. When he feels he is not getting the proper amount of attention, he will not hesitate to engage in the following forms of anger:

1) Using his stubby little legs to push on the tall skinny legs of my ironing board while the iron is on top of it set to its usual lava level of hotness.

2) Sitting next to me and yipping like someone is ripping out his guts right there on the spot. Seriously, are boy dogs supposed to be able to squeak in such a high pitch? Makes me kind of regret the whole nuetering thing...

3) Dragging away fabric that is on the floor. (My floor is also a large portion of my work area so when I'm really in the groove, it looks like a fabric factory puked all over it.) I have found fabric in the bathroom, on the stairs, in my mother's bedroom, in my bedroom and stuffed behind the couch in the living room. Apparently he does not realize that there is way more where that came from...

4) He will employ all of his cuteness in order to get attention. This includes wagging his tail while looking at me sideways, hopping up against me and gently tapping me with his paw and boucing around my studio with a fuzzy squeak toy. When this does not work, he will throw himself down, face his butt towards me and sigh repeatedly. He is such a drama queen.

Sewing machine: 10,456,901,33 ; Lynn: 19

Its not been too cranky. (Please dear reader, cross your fingers, knock on wood and say a hail mary for me.) Although there was the time when it decided it did not care for the manner in which I had threaded it and proceeded to chew a little hole in what I was attempting to quilt.

Never knew it could make a sound like that. (It was fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.)

I'm convinced it was the pink thread I was using. Even my sewing machine cannot tolerate the color, which actually endeared it to me. After I switched it out for some brown thread, it went to work with absolute determination. I think that proves the point right there. Pink = evil.

Distractions: 433; Lynn: 109

The yarn is speaking up lately and quite frankly, bordering on heckling. I picked up a magazine the other day called knitsimple and found a cardigan sweater in there that I...well...I ordered the yarn to knit it...

Oh shut up.

I know I said I'd never knit a sweater but this one looks like something a monkey could do. Which makes it the correct skill level for me. Plus I found some yarn in the same gauge for way less dough then what the patterns was knit in ($10.95 for only 130 yards and I need 12 balls of it? Umm...no. Me thinks there is cheaper yarn out there somewhere....all hail Webs.)

But I promised myself I'd wait until august is over, it can be my stress relief when I need breaks from exhibit duties in september. (Remind me I said that when I'm obsessively looking up directions on how to do something the pattern calls for and cussing at my stupidity for deciding to do this...)

Which means I have to work in my mom's socks before the end of this month. She gave me the MOM look when I showed her the sweater. You know the one...all it takes is the tilt of the head and the correct angle to roll the eyes at and she doesn't need to speak a word.

Yes, your socks will be finished before the sweater is begun...

Work: {blogger doesn't have the symbol for infinity}; Lynn: 0

I don't think I need to address this one. We all know the time suck that is the day job. Moving on...

I'm hoping to have pictures to post soon. My studio is an absolute pig sty - which means there has been work going on and I feel absolutely boring when it comes to blog fodder lately.

I probably need to do some cleaning before I get to work this weekend. Actually being able to see the floor would be a good thing...or my work table...or the trash can...

I am determined to defeat the calendar. Oh yes, I will win this time, I will win, just you wait and see....

27 July 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

Some things are built to weather every season, every occasion, every turn in the wind. Whether hard or soft, their constitution is stubborn enough to claim their stake and not budge. The ability to bend without breaking lies side by side with the memory of each storm.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

26 July 2008

things i never thought i'd say

Two phrases came out of my mouth today and made me feel just plain weird.

1) I spent all day at the sewing machine and got a lot done.

Huh? What have you done with Lynn? Seriously...the sewing machine? I know, I know, I've had one for a while and only used it for piddly little things not befitting its wonders. I realized today there were actually deep seeded emotional reasons for that (which aren't all that fascinating to listen to so we'll skip it).

But the thing is, I'm tired of how long its taking me to make things and my wrist is cranky. I'm somewhat of a slave to the wrist, must do its bidding and since I can't really seem to figure a way to live life without it, I needed to find a way to appease it.

Thus the sewing machine and I had a talk. Its kind of like dating, we are still getting used to each other and I've come to the conclusion that its not necessary for me to do super fancy stitching in order to machine quilt my work.

Seems obvious, doesn't it?

Well, what can I say? Sometimes I'm a slow study...

So we are stitching along, and things seem to be going well and the next time I feel like giving myself a severe migraine, I'll try doing free motion quilting.

And phrase number two of the day:

2) Dooley! Quit licking sister friend's quilt!!!

Allow me to clarify as that could be misconstrued...the quilt consisted of fabrics that had been tea dyed. And smelled fruity and yummy. And as my cutting table lives in my storage unit rather then my studio (a completely logical arrangement), many times work in progress pieces get set on the floor.

Enter the furry white fiend seeking attention. He is denied attention so then turns his attention to said yummy smelling quilt resting on the floor. In a pissy tantrum that would impress the most temperamental two-year-old, he places his two front paws on one end of the quilt and proceeds to completely saturate the other end with dog spit.

Sister friend (that's me, by the way) then turns around and screeches the above phrase. You can hear audible giggling down the hallway as my mother is amused by my frustration.


While I am pleased that little man is able to navigate the stairs again, it has made for a more interesting work environment in the studio. He often likes to do his bear rug impression directly behind wherever I'm sitting or standing so I've developed an incredibly bizarre new style of dance in order to avoid squishing him.

So that's how my saturday went today. All in all it was a successful art day. Photos soon. I'm too tired and far too lazy to drag myself upstairs and push the little button on my camera.

23 July 2008

Breaking Traditions Sneak Peek

Breaking Traditions is an open call art quilt exhibit that debuts at The American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan in September. This year, the exhibit will travel to other venues during 2009. The theme this year, With One Voice, pays tribute to all the good that people do. We are also proud to team up with Virgina Spiegel's Fiberart for a Cause project to help raise money for the American Cancer Society! You can read all the details for participating in this year's exhibit here.

I'm proud to offer you a Sneak Peek of two of the quilts that will be in the exhibit this year:

Safe Haven
Judi Corrado

Artist statement: Safe Haven honors the volunteers and community agencies that provide refuge for women and children of domestic violence. It is important to provide an alternative to these families.

Blue Dog with Red Bone
Paula Page

Artist Statement: My tribute to our four legged friends who give us unconditional love, loyalty and companionship; to the service dogs who improve the life of those they assist and to all the shelter workers who volunteer their time to better the lives of homeless animals.

I hope you will consider joining us for this year's exhibit and honoring those that do good in the world while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

Together we can make a huge difference in the world!!!

Every other Monday between today and August 1, one of the art quilts that has been sent in for Breaking Traditions 2008 will be featured here. Stay tuned for more Sneak Peeks!

21 July 2008

some of my favorites

I saw this over on Yarnhog's blog and decided to give it a go. Its really pretty fun and not at all hard.

You type in your answers to the questions below and do a search on flickr. Then create the mosaic below here. Give it a shot!

1. Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, 2. Me Must Be Dreaming!, 3. _DSC0070w, 4. Cute Tiger Moth Caterpillar, 5. More Johnny Depp..., 6. WIRED, 7. 'Til Bites Do Us Part @ Tenancingo, Edo. de Mexico, 8. Ice Cream Dressed in Red, 9. Uncertain beginnings, 10. Autumn walk, 11. What's Sup, Mama?, 12. Where I Stand

1. First name: Lynn
2. Favorite food: cookies
3. High school: Ladywood
4. Favorite color: orange
5. Celebrity crush: Johnny Depp
6. Favorite drink: coffee
7. Dream vacation: mexico during dia de los muertos
8. Favorite dessert: ice cream
9. What I want to be when I grow up: still exploring
10. What I love most in life: my family
11. One word to describe me: determined
12. Your Flickr name: lynnkrawczyk

20 July 2008

keeping the committment

At the beginning of each year I sit down and decide what goals I really and truly want to pursue in terms of my artwork. Usually there is a BIG one (like being published in a book or magazine I admire) and a bunch of small ones. I don't beat myself upside the head if I don't meet these goals but they are a guideline for me to focus my energies when the mood strikes.

But this year? This year I had one very simple rule that I planned to follow: don't enter shows unless I already had things completed hanging about that could go and don't decide at the very last minute to torture the snot out of myself trying to complete something for a specific show.

Which is why I'm letting the idea of entering Quilt National go.

I've enjoyed letting myself make work for the sake of work and not pressuring myself into creating things for specific shows. There are exceptions to this rule, which were decided on at the beginning. I would make work for the Michigan Quilt Artist Invitational, the American Sewing Expo, any exhibit I was interested in that the fiber art group I belong to was doing and my exhibit, Breaking Traditions. These are all "close to my heart" type shows so they were not placed on the chopping block.

But QN? Not this time. I still feel like I'm getting my head screwed back on tight after the mayhem of the past few years and as a result, I think my artwork has gone through yet another change. I haven't figured it out yet, so I feel like I need to leave it alone and just work and that means its just silly to try to enter something so grandiose this year.

And to make sure I don't change my mind, I'm showing pictures in this post of what I was working on. No going back now...

This is a yard of fabric I printed with coffee grounds, paint, and walnut ink.

I decided I wanted to do several image transfers on it and then cut it into smaller pieces so it appeared more random. Here are the transparencies prior to printing. (Yes, that's my face there in the middle. Its not a vanity thing that I print my own face. Its more that I'm not likely to sue myself over copyright infringement so it just seems easier all around.) These look no where near as intense after the transfer.

To prove that last point, here is what it looks like when I'm peeling the transparency back. This is a technique that I learned from Lesley Riley when I took a class from her several years ago. You use inkjet transparencies, matte medium and a brayer. Simple, consistent and by far my favorite method.

Here is what the transfer looks like after its done. I intentionally wanted this subtle and blendy. (I think that's a word.) Which is why I printed the images on the transparencies in a sepia tone. If I had used regular color they would have been much more obvious. Not the goal this time so I'm happy with how these came out.

I did more to this poor fabric. But I'll save it until its done to post more photos. I'm going to get six small pieces and one long one. I'm calling that series "Talk to Me Now."

I also managed to resolve a major design problem I was having for a series of small quilts I'm working on that involve plant cells. The series is called "Stained." Don't worry, I haven't been dragging fabric through garbage piles. Again, there hasn't been a ton accomplished so I will post pictures when they are done.

But I did vow to use my sewing machine with both these series. Here's proof:

I took a deep breath, made the sign of the cross and shoved the fabric under the needle before I could come to my senses. (That's one from the "Stained" series there.) But I'm changing the order in which the stitching is done as the part that I seem to struggle the most with is keep the three layers from shifting around.

I don't think this an ingenious approach, I think other artists do this as well. Some stitching on just the top layer, surface design, sandwich for three layers and a little more stitching to hold all three together. Its a plan, hopefully a good one.

I decided to pursue that course after machine quilting this:

Its not horrible but it has lots of room for improvement (she says with a snort and "duh!" look on her face). I may do another since there are some aspects that make me twitch. Did I ever mention I have horrible perfectionist tendencies that are enough to turn anyone into a looney? These are the moments when those come out commando style...

I did manage to finish one thing:

Well, technically its four things. These are 6"x6" blocks for a charity group RWS is doing. I stitched these by hand last night. These are lino cuts I carved and wanted the hand stitching because it matched the feel of the print. They are done. Mark one off the list! Woo!

It was one of those kind of days in the studio when it worked right. Hopefully that means my muse is also getting her head back on straight, she's been AWOL for a while.

Yesterday Leann and I went to the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti for the Shadow Art Fair. My sister-in-law Jill was selling her cool buttons there so we decided to go check it out. It was an interesting show, obviously insanely popular since people were packed in solid. There was a lot of outsider art there and I was really happy to see that.

When we got there we saw this in the parking lot:

The evil kitty sees you and he will smack you down if you misbehave.

Leann indulged in beer:

I opted for coffee:

It was a pleasant weekend. Full of art and slow and relaxing. I'm planning to lock myself in my studio again next weekend to hopefully keep the ball rolling.

Right now I have to turn my attention to my mother's socks. She oh-so-subtly reminded me (in the form of whining) that they are half done and she wants them on her feet.

So off to the knitting needles I go....

Where I Stand Sunday

The brewery is one of those places. History is trapped in every pore of every surface, its walls and floors and tabletops used well and used often. A fair dotted with outsider art lines the walls, drawing in thick crowds of people. Beer, coffee and good company tangle together and creates hazy contentment.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

18 July 2008

an unexpected side effect

**Note: This post discusses some aspects of the first episode of the new season of Project Runway. If you are a fan and haven’t seen the first one yet, you might not want to read it.

So Wednesday was the first episode of the fifth season of Project Runway. I am a total dork since I checked the DVR timer about fifty times to make sure that it was scheduled to record…

I’m not super interested in the fashion aspect but I find the entire concept amazing: get a topic, come up with an idea in half an hour, shop for materials in same amount of time, get twelve hours to complete project while allowing ample time for lying on design room floor weeping and gnashing teeth.

I know I couldn’t do it. I tend to let my ideas “marinate” for a long time. I pretty much build an entire project in my mind and then make it. I used to think I just procrastinated like hell but really, its just the way I work. Once I get going it flies like the wind.

And occasionally there is weeping and gnashing of teeth so I guess I have that in common with the designers on PR.

So being the ultimate geek that I am, I made sure all my have-to-do tasks were out of the way last night so that I could drag Dooley up on the sofa with me and watch the first episode.

And it didn’t disappoint. They have got quite the mix of characters on there and I get the impression (mostly based on next week’s preview) that they will begin to snark at each other pretty quickly. It’s a byproduct of trapping fifteen creative people in one room and forcing them to work in teams on a project.

The first challenge involved shopping at a grocery store for supplies and making something from that. When I go shopping for food on Saturday I’m going to be looking around at that place in a whole new light.

The designer, Kelli, who won the first challenge, did a really cool surface design technique on vacuum cleaner bags. She dumped little capfuls of bleach on the bags and then dipped sections quickly into dye. It was pretty cool, mostly because of how well the fiber in the vacuum bags responded to the whole thing. (I can just see umpteen million art quilts constructed of vacuum bags now. They will probably need their own category.) Here is the finished product:

(Photo from Project Runway website.)

I was happy to see someone tinkering with altering stuff like that but what really floored me was my mom’s response to the whole thing. She kept telling me before we turned it on that there was a part I was going to just love. All I could think of was maybe there was finally a straight male designer on the show who was hot and showed off his butt or something.

But she kept rewinding the part where the chick was dipping the fabric into the dye bath and she looked at me and said, “She’s probably using Rit dye, don’t you think? I mean, she got it from the grocery store, it can’t be the good dyes that you use. And look at how well its streaking.”

*sigh* My mom has been assimilated. (I get all choked up just thinking about it. *sniff*)

My mom is not a fiber artist, she always tells me about my grandmother’s sisters who won awards for their quilts and she is convinced that the fiber art gene lay dormant until I was born.

She’s been a real sport about having my junk all over the place. Currently the dining room table has been commandeered for working on my QN entries and she hasn’t uttered a peep. She also puts up with people sending me their artwork en masse for exhibits and magazines and books on knitting and mixed media art and just generally all the mess that comes from being an obsessed artist.

I guess it never really occurred to me that she was paying close attention.

I’m so proud. *sniff*

16 July 2008

deadline season approacheth

I’ve decided that I hate calendars.

Completely and totally, without a doubt – they are the cruelest inventions on the planet.

They are taunting and demanding and the worst part of all : deceiving. All those nice little squares sitting there in a neat row, completely calm and organized. They just march right along, appearing so numerous as to lead you to believe that there is just alllllll the time in the world.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to hurry, it cooes. You’ve got plenty of time, look at all this white space just waiting to be filled with all the things you need to get done. Don’t stress, it’ll all be oooooookkkkkkaaaayyyyy….

Dirty rotten filthy pig liar!!!!!!

It’s a conspiracy to induce madness, I’m convinced of it. What I really need is a calendar that screeches at me that I’m a moron every time I commit to a new deadline. Some real smart butt remark to snap me to my senses, kind of like a verbal smack upside the head. Now, that would be helpful.

I do this to myself every year, apparently I cannot be taught.

I went to Office Max the other day to get some more ink for my printer and got all twitchy when I saw the “Back to School” displays. Part of that was excitement because I am a complete office/organization supply junkie and this time of year gets the geek in me all pumped up. They get really inventive each year and the prices are lower and I…just….can’t…resist. Post-its and sharpies and binders…oh my!!!

On the other hand, it also makes me realize fall is almost here.

While autumn is my favorite time of year, its also what I affectionately refer to as “Deadline Season.” It would seem that every exhibit I want to enter has a due date in either August or September.

Every year, without fail.

Which really, makes me all the dumber, because you would think that the consistency of that would give me a clue.

Nope, hasn’t worked yet.

So at lunch time today I looked up at the big calendar I have plastered to the wall at work (which should also be a good tool for realizing what the date is but alas, it has not helped), and realized I have about eight different deadlines rapidly approaching.

And by rapidly I mean that they are about to pulverize me without hesitation. I will soon be a weeping pile of organic matter stuck to my studio carpet.

I really have no one to blame but myself but seriously, this is NOT good. I made a list of exhibits/challenges that are on the agenda and I’m wondering if I need to prune the ones that aren’t a ‘firm’ commitment.

I’d really hate to do that since I’m equally enamored with all of them.

So I made a schedule and have put the ones that are a ‘must do’ at the top and the others at the bottom and we’ll see how we go. I’ve got probably better then half of the projects most of the way done. I need to wrap them up quickly.

The only solution I have to for that is to **gulp** use my sewing machine. The thought makes me {{{shudder}}}. There is simply not enough beer in the world to help me cope with that idea.

For those who are new to the blog, I do not have the best of luck with my sewing machine. We tend to bicker like an old married couple and usually I loose – badly. But a lot of what I’m doing now has ventured into surface design and only minimal stitching so I’m thinking those will work out okay. Even I can manage to sew a few straight lines….hopefully…(she says with humility and a few prayers to the universe)…

If you hear screaming coming from Michigan, don’t be alarmed. It’s just a little stress relief – either that or I’m getting ready to chuck the sewing machine out the second floor window.

14 July 2008

caution: westiehugger blogging

Okay, this is fair warning that this is an incredibly gushy post about my dog and how cool I think he is so if you go into sugar shock from reading stuff like this, you might want to skip it.

Last week, while filling my ever growing need to consume blog posts from my favorite bloggers, I happened upon this post from Eyembellishments. I literally squeaked out loud when I saw it. I don't go girly over many things but when it comes to my little man, I channel my inner girl and squeal over his cuteness. (Truth be told I get all geeky over pretty much all dogs but the worst is when Dooley is around. My voice goes up two octaves and I am incapable of speaking in anything but baby babble. Its mildly embarrassing but not enough for me to quit doing it so just pretend you don't notice it when you witness it.)

I met Michele of Eyembellishments at IQF this past April and fell in love with her ceramic buttons. Her stuff is way cool, and she's got an online store with lots of goodies too. I snapped up this set the second I saw it, just couldn't resist. I received the buttons today and they are just so adorable!

I was especially excited that they were a set of westies. Dooley is actually my second guy, we got him when our first westie, Quigley, was eight years old. So at one time there were two westies bouncing around the house. I want to do a little tribute art quilt to my boys so these are perfect, especially with the heart in the middle.

I decided to introduce them to Dooley.

He may not appear enthused (in all fairness he was napping when I started bouncing the button in front of him) but he did give it a good sniff and kept examining it so it has received his seal of approval.

I just look at him as he snores on the sofa next to me and think how lucky I am to have such a sweet boy in my life. Some people say he is lucky to have such a nice life but honestly? I think I'm lucky to have him. (Whoa, that was so gushy and girly. I think I filled my quota for the year just with those last three sentences.)

Here are a couple more cute photos that I couldn't skip posting:

I love the freckles on his paws.

Okay, enough now. I love the buttons, I love my westie, all is well with the world tonight.

Go hug your dog (or cat or hamster or snake or guinea pig or lizard or whatever pet you have that makes you gush). Happy hugging.

13 July 2008

pass the dye bucket

So yesterday I attended a fabric dyeing class with the fiber art group I belong to. Mary and I coordinated it with Cathy Arnett, the dyeing goddess of Michigan. (That's her official name, by the way.)

I've loved Cathy's hand dyed cottons for years and they consistently show up in my work. So when Mary and I started talking together about putting together a class, she immediately sprung to mind. So yesterday we drug her down here (unfortunately she lives two hours away) and made her show us how to dye things.

I've done fabric dyeing before but never really had a class. And to be honest, even if I thought I was proficient (which I'm no where near), I'd still take the class. Cathy has dye running through her veins, she's a lot of fun and I'm of the opinion that no matter how good you think you are at something, there's always something more you can learn from other people.

There were a total of eleven of us flipping dye about, torturing fabric and just generally having a good time. Here are some shots of the group:

Linda mixing up dye stock. (Cathy is a slave driver - in a good way - and didn't hesitate to put us to work.)

Patrice ponders the meaning of it all.

Cathy doing one of many demos throughout the day. As soon as I saw her work clothes, I knew we were going to learn a lot. Her clothes are covered in dye and paint and unidentifiable mystery marks - the true sign of someone who has done a lot of dyeing. (You can see what I mean in this week's Where I Stand Sunday photo, that's her foot in the photo with me, a totally brilliant filthy pant leg - she rocks.)

Connie's fabric batching. These colors were so intense in the jars, can't wait to see how they came out!

All of these fabrics were dyed by Cathy. Say it with me: oooooooooohhhhhhhh...aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.
I want to be like Cathy when I grow up.

I had intended to take tons more photos but the heat and humidity of the day began to suck the life force out of me and I just didn't get around to it.

I'm totally wiped out today. Cathy spent the night friday and yesterday and there is no such thing as a reasonable bed time when we are together. She's totally a bad influence on me.

I did manage to peel myself off the sofa today to rinse out my fabric from the class. Half of it I really dig and half of it I spent making faces at as I washed it out. Take a guess which one I'm happy with:

Group A

Group B

If you guessed Group B, you know me well.

I really did a poop job mixing the dye baths on Group A. The only thing out of that grouping I think I will use is the cheesecloth I tossed in with the cotton. And maybe the perle cotton, you can never have too many options when it comes to embroidery thread. I refer to these colors as sissy colors. Wimpy, washed out and just really pale.

I haven't decided their fate yet. I might see if someone in the class came out with some dark fabric they detest and see if they want to trade. I just can't see anything that I would use this for. They make me twitch a little bit.

I was obviously more in the groove with Group B. I think there were a couple factors that contributed to these coming out so rich. (They are way darker in person.) I also did cheese cloth with this batch as well, I'm all geeked about it.

Although I did realize I was something of a moron when I was rinsing out Group B. One set began with red dye and one with black dye. Both colors that you could make a career out of rinsing excess dye out. At one point it looked like I was sacrificing small animals in the sink there was so much red swirling around.

And can I just say that I love that there is a stainless steel sink in this house? I was thinking I could go work for a test lab that makes stainless steel. I could rinse out saturated red fabric and really put the steel to the test, if it can resist that stuff, it can do anything.

All in all I'm pretty happy with what I got. I had a good time. I learned some stuff...and I got to spend the weekend playing with fiber and dye.

My hands look like I've never washed them in my lifetime. Its a good look for me.

I have to say that I feel totally blog boring lately. I've been working on stuff but really, do you want me to post photos of stuff after I've added two lines of stitching on it? Look at it now! It looks in no way obviously different but its just so exciting! Look! Look!

Yeah, I didn't think so.

I am working on the top secret project. Well, not that secret but I can't show you. Why? If I am pleased with how it turns out, it will be entered for consideration to this exhibit. They are very very picky about things not being published anywhere. Like to the point that I get paranoid if I even think about it when I leave the house.

So you can't see it.

Until it gets rejected.

I'm not super confident I'll get in. Any exhibit that has an award called "Persistence Pays" (meant for a person that has finally managed to get accepted after being rejected a billion times) is obviously tough to get into.

But I figure the worst that can happen is that I have a set of work that I really like and can enter somewhere else. So while I would prefer to get in, I'll be okay with it if I don't.

So don't ask me to see what I'm working on. Move along, nothing to see here.

Where I Stand Sunday

It is the constant draw of the unexpected. The base knowledge of how the dyes and chemicals and fabrics will react speak logically and loudly in the background. But staring down at the mixture and knowing that the ticking by of seconds will be the jury of the final result is what lends beauty and mystery to coloring fabric.

Where I Stand Sunday
is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

10 July 2008

sick twisted marketing people

I’ve never had any tolerance for the whole ‘Christmas in July’ campaign. In fact, I often give the TV the middle finger when those commercials come on. I don’t know why but it just irritates me to no end.

Now, I’ve had my share of retail jobs in my lifetime. Up until I became an engineer, I worked at the Dairy Queen, Borders bookstore, Meijers, Bath and Body Works and several other jobs that exposed me to the wonders of customer service. So I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the fact that retail stores start receiving holiday items about six months before they are due to be put on the show floor.

The thing that I’m seeing now, is it seems that they are actually putting it out as soon as they get it.

I was at Michael’s craft store a couple days ago and there was some poor employee stocking a display with Halloween items. I’ve always found Michael’s to be by far the most amusing when it comes to holiday displays. They start out with the Halloween items and then directly across the aisle they do the Christmas display a few weeks later.

It creates the most disturbing atmosphere. While you hear cheerful little elves singing about being good children and happiness, you also hear some poor person screaming in horror because a vampire is trying to rip their throat out. Its absolute genius. Nothing like traumatizing poor little children into madness by lacing holiday songs with screaming Halloween victims.

Its like some bizarre Death Match between Santa and Zombies.

I think someone really needs to review that policy. I’m trying to imagine what that presentation looked like when it was pitched.

“Well Jim, we think that there simply isn’t enough marketing time with Christmas alone. Let’s really pump up Halloween. In fact, let’s try to combine them and I have the perfect solution on how to do that!”

I actually witnessed a kid crying last year over the whole thing. The creepy skeleton trying to pry itself out of its own grave just doesn’t belong next to the Christmas stockings. Call me crazy.

So the next time you are in Michael’s, keep an eye out for that display. The first phase of construction has begun, little faux potion bottles and cute witches that have slammed into doorways are popping up. Shouldn’t be long before Santa arrives to smack down the evil forces of Halloween. Should be a good time.

08 July 2008

i need to say it....

Dear Mr. E-mail Spammer,

I’m writing to you today because I feel you and I need to talk. Obviously you feel like we have some kind of connection since you incessantly send emails to my private email account.

While you may think I am special, I do not feel the same. I apologize for being so direct but I believe in being honest and open.

Regardless of your many offers to improve my sex life by increasing the size of certain areas of my body, your attempts are falling on deaf ears. I am indeed female and lack the equipment you are seeking to “enlarge” and “increase performance” of. You may want to consider redirecting those to someone who has the correct anatomy.

I am also touched by your interest in my financial situation. While I find the idea of winning the lottery in Ireland, Europe, Iraq, Spain and Canada all fascinating, I hesitate to email my bank account number, social security number and age/birth/IQ to some obscure email address that appears to be written in an alien language. You may want to consider getting to know me better prior to getting so personal.

My health also seems to be high on your priority list. Does your kindness know no bounds??? Its good to know that should I need various narcotic pain killers/libido enhancers/blood pressure medication, relief is only a click away. I know that I will have to wait while they clear Chinese customs but what the heck? Discount prescription medication and self-diagnosis couldn’t be easier!

I am also not in need of any of the following items: online forensic psychology degrees, solar powered coffee pots, lights that go on and off based on my mood for the day or eco-friendly awnings made from composted diapers.

I’m sure these are all fine products but are not currently on my wish list so I must pass. However, should I change my mind, I will contact you immediately.

I do hope that we’ve cleared the air about things, you are obviously a very busy person since I’ve been receiving 20-45 emails from you every single day. I admire your ability to assume so many tasks but have no desire to interact with you any more.

As hard as it is, I’m dumping you. And just remember, every new beginning starts with an ending. You’ll find another special someone to spew emails at all day long, I’m confident.

Good luck.


06 July 2008

blog facelift

So I got bored with how the blog was looking and it was also the perfect procrastinating excuse I needed for not dragging my butt into the studio.

I thought a white background would look good but mostly it looked harsh and abrasive so I went with a light grey (gray? grey? or however you spell that color that comes between white and black) instead.

And I put up a new banner. That was my table at Open Studios during IQF in April. I tortured it in Photoshop to make it more washy looking and now I'm fiddling with the blog title color. Still not sure I like the white but its something different so I'm going to leave it alone for now.

Okay, now I need to go do something productive. Its the last day of my vacation before I return to commuting 400+ miles a week for the job that I have come to love and adore and can't imagine living without. (Insert appropriate amount of sarcasm there.)

**Went back to the white. The grey/gray/color in between black and white was kind of depressing to look at. I'll probably change it again. Maybe I'll just make a game out of it and pick a new color every day until I find one I like. Or maybe I'll just stop obsessing and leave it alone. Which one do you think is likely to happen?

Where I Stand Sunday

This way, one way, the only way.

The arrow's arrogance of knowing which way to go draws me to study it. Faced with uncertainty at every turn in my own life, I long for the confidence of the arrow. It knows with certainty what the best course is, it is sorely worn with the long duty of it. This way, this way.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

04 July 2008

goin' to the dogs

I took a few minutes today and packed up this box.

Not so thrilling you say? Well, you would be heartily thrilled if you had four legs, fur, a tail and all you needed to make your day was a soft plush toy covered in neon colored fake fur that squeaked and squawked.

I mentioned to a couple of the art groups I belong to that I was putting together a donation of goodies to send to Bernie Berlin's A Place to Bark. Kate L. and Kate C. brought a bunch of stuff and combined with what I had set aside, we ended up with a big pile of all this:

You will notice that these lovely items are laid out in the back of a car. The reason for this? Here's why:

Oh sure, he looks all sweet and innocent but faced with a mountain of plushie squeak toys? This westie will freak out and it will take hours for him to come down from the high of what is basically the equivalent of what winning the lotto would be for me and you.

(No worries, when I was picking up the goodies for the donation, little man got a couple new additions to his toy basket. Problem is that he never destroys his toys. He's nine now and still has toys from when he was a puppy that are in good shape. He's obviously my dog since he's building up quite the collection. Except instead of fabric, his stash is bizarrely shaped mystery creatures that he likes to bash with his snout to make them squeak in horror.)

So knowing how much happiness Dooley gets from a new toy, I was really happy to be able to pack all that joy into a box and send it out. I met Bernie when I was working in Open Studios at IQF in April, she was an artist there as well. She runs a no-kill rescue at her home in Tennessee and is always looking for items and donations.

Go check out her blog and see all the good stuff she does and if you have some goodies that might help make a poochie's life sunnier, send it on over. I'm sure she - and the dogs - will love ya for it.

03 July 2008

when coffee mugs go bad

Mary and Mark gave me one of these today. (Click on the left hand square in the second row and make sure you press the little play button right below if for the full effect.)

I expect that it will only feed the opinon of my co-workers that I am strange and bizarre but I think it will be a useful weapon for scaring off the less brave.

There's also this one (the next square over from the pink one) but its kind of dirty sounding.

Ah yes, nothing like a freaky coffee mug to sing weird songs to you while you are waking up in the morning.

Does it get any better?

01 July 2008

and so it goes...

Have you ever felt like your muse has chronic PMS?

Maybe if we all pooled our money we could get her a gigantic bottle of Pamprin and then she would leave us the hell alone when we are in our studios.

Yesterday she was lovin' me. The ideas were falling out of the air like Leann's overripe moldy cherries. I was feeling pretty good about myself, here's what I managed to put together:

The paw print mini art quilt is my block for Breaking Traditions. I'm doing mine about Bernie Berlin's no-kill rescue, A Place to Bark. I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to do the block because I'm not a cutesy kind of gal (quit smirking, some people might not know that yet) so I wanted to do something with a homey comforting feeling. Its all wool fabric so it has that effect. And it kind of keeps with the the rescue, its animal related - even though its sheep and not dog but they are all on the same side so its good.

After the paw print piece, I was really in tune with the botany theme, which is good because I want to make a bunch of pieces for the exhibit coming up that the fiber art group I belong to is putting on later this year. The little blocks with the ginkgo on it are the 6"x6" charity blocks I mentioned in my last post. These are linocut prints that I carved and printed on fabric.

I obviously still need to stitch the snot out of these but they are started and that's 80% of the battle for me.

I also got another piece put together with another linocut I carved and printed on fabric. I feel all gushy and maternal about this one since I printed the bird in the tree image and flour resist printed the background fabric.

*sigh* A few stitches and my baby will be all grown up.

And last but not least, here is something I'm way happy with. I'm calling it Nature's Couture.

Not stitched but wicked fun to make. (Apparently my camera is also hormonal. I have no idea why this photo came out so crappy but I'm not asking anymore.) I like this one so much that I'm currently trying to find three more dress forms so I can do the other three seasons. (This one is summer.) So far I've found one resource and they are telling me it will take 3-4 weeks to get them. I'm hoping to do better, the internet is a big place, someone else has to carry them.

But wait, my friends, it didn't stop there. I did an image search in the evening yesterday for more plant junk, this time on a more abstract wavelength. I found some extremely cool pictures, got permission to use them, printed out what I wanted, picked out backgrounds annnnnnnnnnnd......that's where I should have begun randomly flinging Pamprin around the studio.

The muse got cranky and I've hit a slight block. I plan to poke around on the internet some more tonight and see if I can outsmart the wench. I've got ten small pieces sitting on the studio floor and the damn things will be to a stitching stage by the time I'm done with vacation.

The thing I'm struggling with on these is that they are demanding to be more simplistic in nature. I start to twitch if my art quilts aren't weighted down with twenty pounds of embellishments and require a crane to be transported from venue to venue.

These new pieces aren't having it. So I have to figure out how to let my Virgo obsessiveness relax a bit.

It hurts.

I'm hoping to have a brilliant flash of genius tonight and fly into the studio, drop kick my cranky muse and put together some more work. Wish me luck, I think she knows karate.