29 April 2008

nothing cohesive

I’ve tried writing a somewhat intelligent blog post but its not working. Life has been humming along quite busily lately but none of it is enough to babble about for an entire post. So I’m not trying anymore. Here’s what’s going on:

1) I’m planning on taking over half of the garage this week to experiment with printing techniques on fabric. Dooley has been observing my progress as I’ve pulled out the nasty table I use for dyeing fabric. He is leary, as he should be. Last summer he had a purple spot in the fur on his back that took months to grow out. Hey, not my fault he is white and wouldn’t get out of my way, I warned him.

2) I have 43 days (but who’s counting?) until my job transfers to another city that, for all intensive purposes, is on the other side of the planet. My commute (one way) is going from 11 miles to 54 miles. I am resigned to the drive as I am unsure where I want to move. So I’m loading up on podcasts and praying gas does not hit $4.50 a gallon as they are predicting.

3) I have an unhealthy addiction to the movie Blades of Glory. I don’t know why. Its stupid and foolish and I find it very amusing. Its become the background-noise-movie of choice when I am working in my studio. Oddly enough, the DVD copy I bought is insistent on displaying the subtitles every time I turn it on (regardless of me telling it not to) (its never on long enough for the whole movie to run so it gets played in chunks) and I am somewhat disturbed that even the DVD player does not respect me.

4) I’m still knitting. Working on socks again. I liked knitting the leaves and am feeling good about the fact that I have figured out what in the hell to do with them. The botany quilts will not defeat me!!! Ha!

5) I have turned into a Labrador retriever herder. The next door neighbor’s yellow lab delights in escaping from the yard during warmer weather (I suspect she spends most of her days outside once the temperature is appropriate), waddles over to our property and barks until I come out to escort her home. I think she is asking if I can come out to play.

6) I bought a basket of pansies for the front porch. I killed the basket of pansies. I now understand why they are named pansies.

7) I apparently taste good to bugs as I have counted nineteen mosquito bites on me in the past week. The most disturbing one was the one I got in the corner of my eye. It did provide a much needed buffer at work from the stupid people as they began to suspect that I had pink eye.

8) Dooley has re-discovered stairs. A leg injury a couple years ago made it impossible for him to go up an entire flight. He has now found (due to extreme pissiness over being left alone) that he can navigate the stairs and is stuck to me like Velcro. He even pushed the bathroom door open when I was in the shower and barked at me until I agreed to give him a bath (which was previously viewed as the ultimate torture). The dog is obviously getting dementia in his old age.

9) I discovered that having the bottle of shampoo and hair removal product in the shower at the same time is not a good thing when you are prepping yourself for a long commute by getting up earlier for work (this week is 6am, next week is 5:45, the week after 5:30. Pray for me.)

10) I still want to throw something at the bird living in the tree outside my bedroom window. I swear to God, the little bastard only makes a racket on the weekends. I’m up when the sun comes up during the week. Do you hear a peep out him then? Noooooooooooo, of course not! He plans it out, I tell ya, he’s plotting to drive me crazy. He is the devil! The devil!

11) The Project-Which-Will-Not-be-Named is going to be pursued. I have obviously lost all sense of self-preservation but at the end of it all, should it be a success, I will surely be happy. Until then, I refuse to speak its name because I can be extremely superstitious and I suspect I will ensure its failure simply by giving too many details.

12) Ever wonder what would happen if you drank organic chocolate milk while eating sloppy joes? I know and I don’t recommend it.

13) Did you know that men gossip just as much, if not more, then women do? I work with nearly all guys and they are worse then a sewing circle. Do not believe them when they take the moral high ground that gossiping is a bad habit only women posses. They are filthy liars.

14) I’ve decided that when I rule the world, the following activities will be prohibited while driving: reading, texting, eating, folding laundry, putting on make-up, changing clothes, watching tv and dangling one bare foot out the driver’s side window. Yes, I’ve seen all those things and they disturb me equally. I’m not sure how people feel they can do these things and drive at the same time but clearly they are more clever then I am. When I drive I respect the fact that the only thing separating me from the other cars on the road is a little painted yellow line on the concrete. Its kind of hard to focus on that when you treat the car like a traveling entertainment unit. (Sorry, rant over.)

I lead an exciting life, huh? Hopefully the next post will be more focused...

27 April 2008

Adding to the addiction...

If you are like me, reading blogs is a huge source of entertainment. I recently added a bunch of new links to my sidebar but thought I would highlight them here as well because they totally rock and I want to spread the addiction.

Here they are:

a place to bark...and meow
This is the blog of Bernie Berlin. She was one of the artists in Open Studios at IQF and not only does she make amazing artwork but she runs a no-kill animal shelter full time. She's awesome!

I met Terry and Michele at IQF and I swear, I could have stood in their booth for hours. They have the most amazing ceramic buttons and embellishments. I was all twitchy with the possibilities. They also create little mixed media pieces with them. I was really lucky to score one of their gorgeous faces for one of my collages, I have plans to use it soon!

This blog belongs to Anne Hanson. She does really amazing knitting patterns. I have the Honeybee Stole. Its a good pattern, if I can follow it, anyone can! I knit at the speed of mud so its questionable as to whether or not I will finish it in this lifetime but that's a reflection on my skills, not the pattern.

Meet Lois Jarvis, a phenomenal rust dyer. I bought a couple pieces of fabric from her at IQF. She combines tannin with the rust dyeing as well and creates these really fascinating gray hues along with the rust. Its really cool to see how she goes about creating these works of art.

StudioLams Weblog
This blog belongs to my friend Jackie and her husband Victor. Jackie is an amazing artist, check her stuff out on her flickr page. The two of them are always up to the most interesting things!

Yarn Pirate
Meet Georgia: awesome knitter, awesome dyer, very good blog. Check it out!

Her motto is "Because there is no such thing as 'too much yarn.'" Gotta love that! Very cool blog, be sure to stop by and read about her knitting adventures.

To be honest, reading blogs are kind of like crack, I just keep finding more that I like and linking to them. Be sure to shop through the links in my sidebar, there's lots of good stuff in there!

Where I Stand Sunday

The local coffee house has so much more to offer then its chain rivals. The furniture is mismatched and worn, the walls covered in political messages, the mood slow and steady. A constant stream of people move between the rooms and in and out of the entrance. Its history is engrained on every surface. It is the ideal meeting spot for conversation with a friend, a most perfect way to start the day.

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 April 2008

The Studio is alive

The spring cleaning bug is practically chewing my face off. I've cleaned the studio (twice) and my bedroom and part of the pile of the junk in the basement that I moved home after the store closed and I'm planning a ninja sneak attack on my storage unit soon. (I find it best to take that mess by surprise, its far too intelligent to reason with.)

I've also gotten my projects in order and its a stark contrast from where my mindset was last year. (Hell, let's be honest, I was lucky to peel myself out of bed each morning and remember to change out of my pajamas before leaving the house. It was not a good year.)

So I have several baskets lined up like proper little soldiers, waiting to be attacked in order of their due date. The first one on my list was getting my pages together for a fabric journal round robin I'm doing with the fiber art group I belong to, Running with Scissors. I picked "Pet Portraits" as my theme and I finished up Dooley dog's page this evening:

I went for a vintage type feeling for the background fabric of the pages. I'm disturbed that I had that pink tablecloth-like fabric in my stash. But it worked well. (I think the pink is starting to wear me down.)

I went to Joann's today to pick up some stuffing for some plushies and it was insane in that store. Sales had women bouncing off the aisles and sprinting about. It was crazy. I ended up picking this up:

That's my quilt for the Michigan Quilt Artist Invitational due in July. (Can't you tell???) The theme this year is 'Adventures in Italy' and I have to say, I enjoy it when they pick countries as the topic. Everyone ends up doing something different but its still tied together.

I know what I have so far is horribly impressive. I'm hoping to start it tomorrow. There is some weird voodoo magic going on whenever I do a quilt for that exhibit. I always paint them. And that's not something I generally do. And yeah, I know those aren't fabric paints. Trust me, they work just fine since my quilts never see the inside of a washer.

I'd tell you the topic but I'm not sure it will work out so in case it turns into a train wreck, I can say it was supposed to be something else and show you that instead and you won't be any wiser. (Ah the wonders of the Internet.)

I also took these knitted misshapen things:

Briefly drowned them:
(Looks disgusting doesn't it? Smelled like wet dog, too. I love wool but not when its wet. Ick.)

And subjected them to pinning torture:

Yes, leaves. I plan to make a brilliant quilt-like fiber art type thingie for the upcoming botany art quilt exhibit RWS is doing. I seem to have an issue with my botany quilts. The two that I've started have turned against me. I'm not sure why they have such attitudes but they have me considering using them for cleaning rags. No worries, I'll work something out but I learned a long time ago that when a project fights me so hard, I move on. I have to bicker with enough humans during the course of the day, I don't need to do it with fabric as well.

There is also The-Project-Which-Will-Not-Be-Named. I'm not willing to fess up to this one yet. Just know that if I do decide to pursue it, it will most likely break my will and send me away to a place where knitting needles are considered sharp objects and prohibited. Still...I'm considering it.

All in all its been a good day. It started out with meeting up for coffee with Jackie and catching up. The Coffee Bean has seriously good caffeine and Jackie makes seriously good art. Doesn't get much better then that.

22 April 2008

Casting Call

Ladies and Gentleman, in today's performance Lynn will be playing the role of Godzilla and Tokyo will be played by her cell phone.

Guess who lost the battle? I imagine my cell phone looking up at me in horror and screaming. It would have put up its hands to defend itself if it had any.

I have the habit of charging my cell in the car on the way to work. Mostly because when I get home I turn it off and don't think of it again so once I start the next day, I'm yanking it back out of my purse to give it some more juice.

Today was such a day and when I got out of the car this morning, I forgot to grab it. So I ducked back into the car, got it and as I went to stand up, it skittered out of my hand and onto the concrete parking lot.

It most likely would have survived had I not decided to do the I-am-going-to-try-to-go-left-to-avoid-crushing-this dance. In my valiant efforts to avoid obliterating my electronic friend, I stepped on it hard and smooshed it dead.

I tried turning it on when I got to my desk and it just made a choking electronic squeak that kind of resembled a baby pterodactyl.


I now have a new phone and its a (RED) product so at least I can feel good about that.

I called Mary to test out the new phone and she called me back and giggled and said I did a Godzilla to my phone. She is right.


21 April 2008

I am more stubborn then wool

It probably says something about me that I began to take my crocheted purse's refusal to felt as a personal insult.

I began to view it as a personal challenge and was absolutely determined to crush its will. I am extremely pleased to report that I won.

I am more stubborn.

So here is the purse prior to felting:

See? Even Dooley was optimistic about the whole thing. It measured 16" wide x 12.5" tall and the strap from the top of the purse to the tip of the strap was 18". How did I determine these measurements would give me the size I wanted?

I didn't. I guessed. I figured if its going to shrink then I would go big. I worried a bit after I finished it because when I put it over my shoulder, it hung below my butt. I had faith, though, that felting would cure the things I had screwed up so I tossed it in the washer.

Here's how it went:

First wash: bag by itself.

Second wash: bag again by itself

{{obsessively look at books about felting while at the bookstore with Mary, feel like a dingbat, decide to try again}}

Third wash: bag with one towel

{{shamelessly repeat third wash combo two more times}}

Sixth wash: bag with a pair of jeans (thanks for that suggestion Donna)

Seventh wash: bag with a pair of jeans and a towel

Eight wash: bag with a pair of jeans and four towels

It cried uncle after the eight wash. Here's how it looks now:

I am good at shrinking wool in the washer. I triple checked the dimensions because I got a bit twitchy when I realized just how much it shriveled up.

It now measures 10" wide, 10" tall and the top of the purse to the tip of the strap is 15.5".

I won.

**P.S. Did you know that wet wool smells like a stinky wet dog? Yeah, neither did I. Should I do this again I will make sure to toss in the jeans and four towels at the very beginning so that I don't have to appear like a looney by washing the same bag a billion times.

The Evil Side of Spring

Allergies oh allergies, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways..

*I have turned into a human booger factory. Alternating between requiring a Kleenex box strapped to my face and needing to breathe out of my mouth to avoid suffocation. You are cruel, dear allergies, very cruel.

*While others frolic amongst the new flowers and budding trees, I can only give dirty looks from afar lest my face implodes from extreme sinus pressure.

*I am often mistaken for weeping, as my eyes puff and run at alarming rates. You take great pleasure in blurring my vision, and I hate you for it.

*I have acquired the ability to sound like a goose when I cough. This is neither attractive nor comfortable and I resent it.

*There is little relief in the way of medication. The woman laughing and smiling on the telly after taking a miracle drug is a filthy liar. These pills turn me into a stoned dribbling zombie.

*You strike at any given moment. The instant the weather begins to warm, I feel my face start to swell right along with it. You suck the joy out the new season. You are truly the devil.

*You have, however, given me a new clan of people to identify with. I sympathize with my fellow allergians when I see them snuffling through the stores. Then cringe with the realization that I also resemble Rudolph with my red nose. Allergy sufferers unite!

*You make eating an adventure. When you have turned my nose into a solid block of yuck, not only can I not taste what I am eating, I have to do it very quickly in order to avoid smothering myself.

And yet, I would not trade spring for the winter. I'm happy warmer weather is here, although I would love it if you would cut me a little slack. And while I'm at it, could spring please do something about the pesky bird that likes to hang out in the tree outside my bedroom window and sing (loudly, repeatedly and not in any type of pleasant harmony) at the first speck of daylight? Doesn't he know I only get to sleep in two days a week?

Maybe I'll get lucky and the bugger will get an allergy attack that causes him to loose his voice soon...

20 April 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

The water washes over everything in its path, painting different colors above and below its surface. Its energy is relentless as it continually shapes the shores and earth. Its contradictory nature of soothing and uncontrollable speaks volumes.

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.

19 April 2008

Art quilts on exhibit, part 1

I promised you all some photos of the amazing art quilts that were on exhibit at IQF. I only took a few as compared to what was on display but I've got enough that I'm going to split these into two posts.

Below each one is the title of the quilt and the artist. Enjoy.

by Jeanne Pfister

The Empty Space
by Harumi Iida

by Kathy York

A Rose by Any Other Name
by Patt Blair

**Lynn's note: There was a crowd in front of this quilt like you wouldn't believe. It is absolutely stunning in real life. I stood for quite a while before being able to get close enough to it to take a photo. Not that I minded, it just gave me more time to admire it.

Air: That Which Surrounds & Influences
by Patricia Gould

Blue Moon
by Jane Lloyd

Flower Fields Forever
by Doria Goocher

Happy Trails
by Sonia Grasvik

Part 2 soon...

18 April 2008

So I had this idea...

...which is usually where the trouble begins.

Before I left for IQF I was rooting around in the trillions of bags (tote/purse/decorative) and determined (like the junky that I am) that I simply didn't have one that I wanted to take along with me to haul all of my junk around.

You see, I am to tote bags what Imelda Marcos was to shoes. (Well, maybe not quite that bad but it could easily get there if I didn't check myself on a regular basis.) I love 'em. Can't get enough. And the tricky part of it is finding one that I can't load down to an unrealistic weight that could cause me to blow out another disk in my back. So there's a challenge there which makes it more like a sport - very appealing.

So my plan - about two weeks before leaving - was to crochet up a bag and felt the heck out of it. Which is not something I normally do. I've always thought the idea of felting odd. You spend hours knitting or crocheting something, taking care to have nice stitches and then - wham! You shrink it like some sadistic maniac and ruin all your stitch definition. See? Weird.

Still, I liked the idea of being able to determine the size myself and pick the colors and thought it would be horribly satisfying to walk around Chicago and the show with something I made.


Didn't get it done in time. I'm sure you're shocked.

So I finished it up last night and decided to toss it into the washer to felt it up.

It doesn't look much different. Yes, its wool recommended for felting (the brand is Galway) and yes, I used low water and soap and the hot/cold cycle. (And before you ask, we have a washer with an agitator so I figured that would be a bonus on my side for felting.) Yes, I threw it in the dryer. (After pulling it out of the washer and realizing there wasn't much change, I chose to do something entirely brilliant. I put it in the dryer on heavy duty high heat. Did you know that wool gets kind of stinky when its on the brink of catching on fire?)

I realized this morning that I tossed it in the washer by itself and that I should have given it a couple of friends (like towels) to help with the friction aspect. If anyone has any advice on what else I could be doing wrong, I'm all ears.

My plans for tonight are to wash the snot out of this damn thing until it felts. I will win, oh yes, I will.

17 April 2008

Collage Mania!

And believe me you, MANIA is the right word for it! If you are into collages, then you will totally want to check this out.

Virginia Spiegel has organized yet another exciting fundraiser for Fiberart for a Cause (FFAC). This time focusing on collages.

Below are two of the 220 collages that have been donated to help raise funds for FFAC.

Flower Girl
Melissa Snyder

Many Gatherings
Jennifer Black

You can aquire these or any of the other stunning collages sent in on May 5 and May 6.

As always, all the money raised from the sale of these collages will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Its a total win-win for everyone -- get some gorgeous work to display in your home and help improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Go here for all the details about Collage Mania and how to go about purchasing one of the pieces.

FFAC has raised over $150,000 so far through the generous donations of artwork and tireless efforts of Virginia. Please join me in making Collage Mania another smashing success!

Frequently Asked Questions

My voice didn’t really work too good the first couple days after I got back from IQF. I guess I didn’t realize how much of my day I spend not speaking. (Transmission parts just aren’t so talkative.)

I did notice after my second time slot during Open Studios that there were several questions that kept coming up again and again. So I jotted them down and thought I would share them and their answers with you here.

Here goes:

Q: Are/were you an art student?

A: Nope on both accounts. I really believe that if you have the desire to make art, you’ll figure out how to do it. That’s not to say that classes on the subject aren’t beneficial but I don’t think you need to take a million classes to be creative. I’ve read several books on design principles and I do take a class here and there but its more the drive to play and experiment that pushes me forward.

Q: What kind of glue do you like for what?

A: I am a glue junkie. I gravitate toward the glue sections in craft and hardware stores. I’ve tried many different types but these two are my all time favorites:
SOBO craft glue for soft to soft attachments (I get this at Joann’s or Michael’s)
WELDBOND industrial glue for hard to soft attachments (I find this most frequently in the automotive section of Meijer)

I have used Fabritac and E6000 but here are my issues with these. First off, they aren’t real fluid. They have the viscosity of glue gun glue and this has a tendency to create blobs that can’t be hidden. Its also a real pain in the keester if you want to sew around the area that has now been turned into a glue booger area. I also have issues with the smells of these glue. These are fabric based collages and I’ve had a couple pieces that have never left my studio because the stink from the glue just wouldn’t go away.

Both SOBO and WELDBOND are fluid white glue (meaning they have the consistency of Elmer’s glue) and they dry clear and have just a mild regular run of the mill glue smell. So mild that you don’t notice it.

I was asked if I’ve tried straight up Elmer’s and yes, I have. It doesn’t have the holding power of the other two glues so I don’t use it.

Q: Has anything you’ve glued down ever fallen off?

A: Yes, BUT it was because someone put their mind to picking at it. I had a piece in a show and for whatever reason, this person was determined to pick the embellishment off. (I suspect it was a little person of a young age that was not being attended to but I’ve never been able to confirm it.)

Gluing things down with the proper glue will make them stay but if you want to wash the piece (which I never do) or you are going to sit there and yank on it repeatedly, then yeah, it’ll come off.

Q: Do you sell your work?

A: Yes and no. I have a few pieces for sale here but to be honest, my website is horribly out of date and missing nearly all of my most current work. I’m in the process of building/updating a new one. I’m not real regular about selling my work because I simply don’t make enough work to be able to do that. I’m still at a point where I have to cram creating into my spare time and if I am going to start selling, I want to take it seriously and be able to dedicate the time and attention it needs.

Q: Do you teach/lecture/have a book?

A: Nope. Although all you guys have gotten my wheels turning on this so this could change in the future. I’m chained to a desk at my day job for the moment so any teaching I would do would have to local or on a weekend gig if it was out of state. Not a bad idea, though…

Q: Why do you fuse the layers of the fabric and batting together rather then pinning?

A: This answer is NOT for the faint of heart. I’m warning you right now that if you have a weak stomach, skip this part…I pinned my layers together for the longest time. My pins of preference were those long pins for quilters with the flat flower heads on them. I stopped doing this after I drove one of those pins halfway under a fingernail. The swearing was spectacular. And the pain was unbelievable (which with all the back problems I’ve had, it’s a bold statement considering that pain). I understand now why pulling out fingernails is a form of torture.

So now I fuse the layers together and my fusible of choice is Mistyfuse. Its lightweight, SUPER strong and I can stitch through it by hand. I tried Wonderunder but found it difficult to hand stitch through. Mistyfuse is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

On the few occasions where I need to pin something that I don’t want to fuse down, I use those ergonomic safety pins. You know, the ones that look like someone has stepped on them? They work great.

Q: What do the backs of your quilts look like?

A: All my stitches show on the backside. I strive to be neat but you can see knots and where one stitch ends and one begins. I admire the people that can make the backs of their work look as stunning as the front but that’s not a priority for me. I prefer to train my attention to how the front side looks.

These were the most common inquiries. Hats off to all of you who came to see me because you all were quite curious and had me explaining everything in great detail. I really enjoyed that.

Next post – cool art quilts that I loved from the exhibits. Stay tuned!

15 April 2008

More Open Studios...

I've got more to talk about for Open Studios. First off, here I am:

This was on Sunday, which explains why I look the way I do. Tired. That's all I have to say - tired. But completely happy.

I feel like a complete dork because I didn't snap any pictures of the other artists while they were working. It really was a whirlwind, it all went by so quickly. Still, its one of those things. When I downloaded the photos off my camera yesterday I smacked myself in the forehead over this one.

Virginia and Judy were much better about it, go check out their blogs to see some of the other ladies. I was really in awe of all of them, so much good stuff flying about.

Most of the time I was working in Open Studios I was sitting at the tables that were up against the classroom area. On Saturday night, Pokey ran her infamous Surviving the Runway class. If you've not seen this one, its really something to behold.

Its a mixed media project challenge in which you are given a pile of supplies and told to make something good out of it. Participants dance for supplies and jump around. The more you hop about, the more stuff you get to use on your project. It is not for the faint of heart. At one point they decided to dance The Hustle. I had a front row seat for this:

The editors of Quilting Arts are right there leading the pack. They did a good job. Women were having so much fun they were practically falling over. They are a merry bunch!

At my first time slot for Open Studios on Friday I had decided to work on the same piece each day and have two other pieces out with their embellishments strewn about to show what I had picked. I thought it would be more interesting to see the path that a piece takes as I work on it rather then having a couple inches done on each one. I chose "Vintage" as the victim for this.

Here it is before I began working on it:

Here it is at the end of the show on Sunday:

Not bad for eight hours of playing with it in between talking with people. Its not done but well on its way. It needs more stitching now and some beads. I don't think it needs any more large elements and I'm fairly happy with it.

I had a realization this weekend. I shouldn't be calling these art quilts. I spent some time Sunday morning before my slot in Open Studios walking around the exhibits looking at all the work. (I took some photos of the ones that really caught my eye and I'm going to share them with you in another post. You've gotta see these things, they totally rock.) There is a big disconnect between what I do and the quilts on exhibit. During the course of chatting with people over the weekend, several referred to my work as collages. And you know what? I think they are right.

I am somehow feeling more in touch with my work now that it has a different label on it. It seems more appropriate to call them stitched textile collages then it does art quilts. It may just be semantics but the primary element to my work is not the stitching/quilting. Its all the mixed media elements and 'collage' seems more fitting.

Its funny that it would take me so long to identify that and that it would take complete strangers tossing the term my way for me to realize it but there it is.

I learned a lot about my art this weekend. And I remembered how much I love it and why I started doing it in the first place. My life over the past few years has been rocky and difficult and it finally is settling down. I'm turning back toward my studio and this weekend really helped me realize I wanted to be there.

Many many thanks to the Quilting Arts/Cloth Paper Scissors crew for inviting me to participate. I had a fantastic time and I can't thank them enough!

Cathy and I stayed a day longer then Mary did so on Mary's last night we went out for a nice meal. The two of them together is really something to behold. I laughed so hard I almost spit my food out. (Of course, they are hysterical to begin with but I had just gulped down a taffy apple martini so I was really giggle snorting. I wonder what the locals thought.)

Here we are at the restaurant:

Thanks guys, I haven't laughed that hard or that long for a really long time.

14 April 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

The removal of the usual working environment forces my artwork into a new light. As people moved past the table, asked questions and saw it for the first time, I rediscovered the magic of marrying unlikely objects into unusual pieces. Processes that were previously hidden inside my mind were forced into the light and are now heading off in directions of their own. It was an awakening that inspires action and movement.

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

Stick a fork in me...

....I'm done. Oh boy, am I ever tired.

We got home about 2am this morning and my obnoxious internal alarm clock has decided to exercise its right to torture me and keep me awake. (Its the curse of having a work schedule that drags you from you bed at unholy hours most of the week.)

IQF was unbelievable, I have much to share (including a Where I Stand Sunday post that was supposed to go up yesterday) and about a billion photos to edit.

It was a blur. I've always thought its much like Christmas and a wedding...you spend months preparing for it and its done in a blink of an eye. But still totally worth it.

I'll be talkin' at ya soon, but for right now I have a date with the sofa and Dooley. We are going to slug impersonations today.

11 April 2008

And so it begins...

IQF began today and as I was walking to Open Studios to set up I heard an announcement saying that due to the large number of people waiting in the lobby to get into the show, they were opening the doors twenty minutes early.

You could hear the panic ripple through the vendors as everyone (including myself) shuffled quicker to get everything in place. Nothing will wake you up and get you going like several hundred quilters chomping at the bit to shop and soak in all the fibery goodness the show has to offer.

Here was my table at Open Studios:

Each artist got a table to herself and I was glad for it. I got to make a mess. There were a lot of people that came through the Open Studio area and I had fun chatting with everyone. The most popular piece of information I possessed was about glue. It appalls some people, fascinates others and the remainder just kind of stare at me like my head has obviously fallen off when I tell them I glue a lot of the elements of my art quilts down.

Here's the skinny on the glue: (1) for fabric to fabric attachments, I use Sobo and (2) for hard materials (otherwise known as things that don't belong stuck on art quilts) I use Weldbond, which I find most often at Meijer in the automotive department. You could stick an elephant to the ceiling with that glue. Its as strong as E6000 but is a fluid white glue that dries clear and has no odor.

Go my children, glue things and be free.

(Oh and I thank the woman today who told me that obviously I was able to make these type of quilts because I had to be an art student. I was flattered that she liked my work but very tickled she thought I was so young. Thanks.)

I only worked for two hours and then I was free to wander the show floor. I decided to make today my shopping day because tomorrow I'm scheduled for four hours and then I figure you're going to have to peel me off the chair on sunday (I'm already tired, its not bound to improve) so today was going to be it.

I was completely enthralled with all the wool booths. I blame Deb. Here's what I picked up:

You can't tell but the plaid piece on the right is an acid toxic green. It also reminds me of the uniform I wore during my twelve year stint in Catholic school. I plan to make an evil plushie creature out of it. Seems fitting.

The little dude sitting on top the pile is an oddball keychain fellow with tons of googly eyes. He promises to "find all things lost" with all those eyes. I figure it should help with my issue of loosing scissors. I should be drowning in them soon if he does what he is supposed to.

I picked up this wool and doily to make a wall piece for my mom:

As the hotel cares nothing for the quality of my blog pictures, the lighting in here is horrid. That wool is actually a blue color and the doily is dyed in some vintage pinky tones. Very girly. Very much my mother. ( I swear, if I didn't look so much like her, you'd really question how a skull loving engineer chick like myself could have been produced by a pink loving froof lady. But I respect the foof and make her appropriate things.)

Mary and I also came across a booth selling rust dyed fabrics. I'd not seen ones like this before. The piece on the left has grey on it produced by tannins. I plan to use this in an upcoming show quilts so I was happy to find it:

The metal tag is rusty and has a stamping of a primitive crow on it. I love that primitive crows have Xs fo eyes. Its creepy and cool all at the same time.

We ordered pizza when we got back to the room and proceeded to have a burping contest after guzzling vernors. We are such ladies.

Tomorrow will be a long day as well but surely a happy one. I'm working twice tomorrow during Open Studios (12:30-2:30 and 4:30-6:30) so come on by and say hello.

P.S. Hey Sidney? Your name was called for the pincushion class. You totally missed out.

10 April 2008

It happens every once in a while

So, when I went to my closet before leaving home and decided to bring three jackets with me to Chicago, it turns out I was right (which happens every now and again)...Chicago's weather is as off its rocker as Michigan's.

Mary and I ventured onto the L today and boogied on down to downtown Chicago. We wormed our way through the subway turnstiles (in which I made a complete fool of myself and couldn't figure out how to put the ticket in, I heard an audible sigh of irritation wheeze out of the guy behind me and got all twitchy, but I really couldn't blame him) and walked out into W E T and C O L D and W I N D Y weather.

To say that it sucked would be the understatement of the century.

I had hoped to exhaust my camera today and irritate the hell out of Mary by stopping every six inches to take a picture of something.

I got nothin'.

I'm also convinced that whoever laid out this lovely city is lucky they are already dead and gone because the inhabitants and visitors here would likely murder them in the streets for strategically placing the buildings in such a way as to create a wicked wind tunnel. (You know how they call Chicago the Windy City? Its not a cute nickname, they mean it.)

So Mary and I soldiered on because even though we were wet and cold and swearing at the wind (who turned out to not care that we were cussing at it), we are nothing else if not stubborn. We scrambled to the Hershey's store and instantly went into sugar shock by walking through the doors. The odor of chocolate smacks you upside the head as soon as you enter, its totally awesome. I picked up chocolatey gifties for my mom and brother and sister-in-law and after we paid, we watched as two people practically had their arms ripped off when they tried to open the door to the store and the wind kicked it back in their faces.

I kind of hesitated, wondering if maybe it would be so bad if I spent the rest of the weekend inhaling chocolate fumes. But I could think of no good way to explain that to Patricia Bolton so I took a deep breath and we went back out into the city for the wind to play ping pong with us.

We decided to stop one more place and then head back to the hotel. A disappointment to be sure but we were beginning to feel that we were lucky to still have our heads attached.

We visited Rotofugi, where one can find such treasures as a teddy bear that smacks a person around, melting plastic fungus figures and all things odd in the toy world. We picked up some oddities and then decided that we could just walk back to the L station. (We had taken a cab to get to the toy store since it was a pretty good distance from where we were.)


We're stubborn. Not always bright, though. (It was a long walk when it the sky keeps spitting icy cold water on you.)

Turns out that we made a pretty good decision because we ended up walking right through Wicker Park. We found a kick ass bead store called Beadniks (where I procured some new skull beads for my collection and Mary picked up some pretty things to make a cool turtle necklace). Sadly they are website-less. But if you happen to be around the area, totally stop in there, very cool and extremely nice people.

We also visited Nina, a small but cool yarn shop. There was some kind of odd force at work in that store because I walked out with bright green and orange yarn and Mary's bag had deep rich forest colored yarn. This is completely out of character for each of us (she usually picks bright and I pick dark) and we pretty much chalked it up to the fact that our brains had been frozen by the weather and then blown out our ears by the wind.

We called it a day after that, figuring it wise not to press our luck. We stuffed ourselves back on the train and are now warm and dry in the hotel room. Cathy is slaving away at preview night and I'm all packed up and ready to go for Open Studios.

I'm getting twitchy about tomorrow, I'm ready to go. Bring on the quilters!!

09 April 2008

Today was all about the fish...

Cathy and I arrived today in Chicago. It was a pretty easy drive, and an interesting trip in that we stopped off and ate lunch at a restaurant that caters to truckers. It was especially handy since after eating, you could take a shower or buy various adult themed items. We opted not to do either but still, there were plenty of chances to walk on the wild side.

We got to Chicago early afternoon and headed on over to Shedd Aquarium. Here's the view of the city as we walked toward the aquarium:

We did get closer to the water but I kind of started to get all twitchy and to be honest, had to fight back the urge to clutch onto Cathy even though we were standing a good ten feet from the edge and it would take someone shoving me hard to push me in. I have a really really bad problem with large bodies of water. I think petrified is a pretty good way to put it (which is why you'll be proud of my upcoming Where I Stand Sunday photos).

I admire large collections of water. I respect large collections of water. I respect them so much that I stay entirely away from them.

I know what you're thinking: then why was I going to a gigantic aquarium? Here's why, I got to see stuff like this:

And I got to see them without having to go into the water or on a boat. (Boats sink...into water...so I have issues with those as well.) Bonus points.

We also got to see this komodo dragon. I think his name was Frans. I can't exactly remember now but I recall squinting at the sign because he had a german sounding name. Didn't seem to fit. He's pretty cool to look at:

The signs on the outside of his exhibit space cautioned me that although he was laying in the middle of a huge space like an enormous slug, he could chew my face off in about ten seconds flat. Apparently he is quick (when he wants to be) and likes to eat a lot. In fact, the sign also explained that the staff at the aquarium scatters when he is eating since attempting to get between him and his food is, as Martha would say, a bad thing.

I felt pretty safe that he couldn't get me since there was very thick glass seperating us but I think I'll show him the same respect that I do to the water and just leave him be.

In the basement of the aquarium there was an exhibt called the Ocenarium. It had penguins, I like penguins. But it also had something that kicked my water phobia into severe high gear.

There is a gigantic tank that houses these cuties:

They are beluga white whales and the little guy grey is a baby named Miki. Very sweet, he hugged on him momma while they swam and they stayed near the surface chattering and splashing and spitting whale snot on little kids much to their delight.

However, if you went into the basement where the penguins are, you got another view of their tank (the shot above is looking down into their tank from the main level). Here's what it looked like:

I don't think this photo conveys the feeling of crushing abyss and panic that came over me. You could feel the pressure change in the air and I was convinced that the glass couldn't possibly be thick enough to keep that water at bay.

The whale swam close to it at one point and I cringed, thinking all he would have to do is tap the glass and it would crack and kill us all. I started examining the ceiling and realized it was too low and the water could easily fill the space so there would be no room to breathe and I started wondering how painful of a death it would be if I got smooshed by a whale as it came crashing through the glass.

Cathy drug me away from it and when I told her my concerns (I felt the need to spread the panic), she said she thought it was the watery wall of doom (which was her name for it) as well. That made me feel kind of better to know that we would at least be crushed by the water thinking the same thing.

Don't worry, I"m better now. Cathy is watching bad TV and I'm...well...its pretty obvious what I'm doing. The aquarium was beautiful and I do recommend it. I have tons more pictures that I will put on my flickr page when I get home but now I'm tired.

Hopefully tonight I don't dream of viscous komodo dragon attacks (I'm worried he might be pissed that I can't remember his name) and becoming one with the whale tank...I have issues with water, did I mention that?

07 April 2008

Pretty good odds

I decided that in addition to The List, I would start making a pile of stuff on the dining room table in order to pack for IQF. The rationale is that if I gather it all in one place, then all that I'll need to do is shovel it into boxes and suitcases and bags. The volume is amazing, mostly due to everything I am bringing for Open Stuidos.

Here's what I've got so far:

  • 6 work-in-progress art quilts (Will all of them make it to Open Studios? Probably not but variety is good and I can guarantee that if I don't take them all, I'll want to work on the ones I left behind.)

  • 2 completed art quilts (As a testament to the fact that I do indeed finish things. They are also the ones featured in my article from Quilting Arts so I thought people might like to see them in person.)

  • 4 pairs of scissors (I cannot even begin to explain my issues with loosing scissors. I am the equivalent of a dryer sucking socks into a vortex, its totally disturbing.)

  • approximately 5,671 embroidery and beading needles (You know, just in case.)

  • more embellishments for each quilt then would be humanly possible for a group of 33 women to attach in the span of two hours (the scheduled time slots for Open Studios), which is why its totally reasonable to expect that I can do it on my own

  • 1,000 postcards advertising the call for my Breaking Traditions exhibit. (Shoosh, VistaPrint gave me an amazing deal on them and Sid-the-wonder-artist has agreed to help pass out whatever I have left when she does shows this summer, thanks Sid!)

  • laptop (I am an internet addict, I cannot go for six days without nor can I resist the urge - should I have a speck of energy left - to blog about IQF while there.)

  • about 1900 different tote bags (Okay, so I need to par that down a little bit.)

  • 3 coats (Chicago is not far from Michigan and is surely jsut as neurotic weather wise. I will not be caught unaware. We have the heavy wool jacket, the light wool jacket and the very light jean jacket. No, I'm not obessive, why do you ask???)

I could continue to list off everything I'm packing but really, do you want to read about how many pairs of skivvies I'm taking? No, neither would I...

I've decided to stay out of my stuido, I'm DONE packing that portion. I could spend the rest of my life picking out stuff that I might need, that could work on the quilts or that I think might be better then what I've already packed.

Besides, Julaine left a comment on a post this morning that totally gave me a duh moment: I'm going to a convention where there are hundreds of vendors catering to quilters and sewers of all types.

The odds are pretty good that if I do forget to pack something crucial, I'll be able to find it amongst them and pick one up to use. Problem solved.

I think its also safe to say that should I forget something as critical as toothpaste or a brush or deodarant, that somewhere in the entire state of Illinois, I will be able to find a store that sells such items. It is unlikely that Michigan has a monopoly on these products.

Now if I could just banish the thoughts of coming down with the plauge before the trip or going through Open Studios with a booger hanging out of my nose, I'd probably sleep better at night. Yeah, I'm all twitchy and kind of nervous but its all rooted in excitment so its the good kind. (I'm still a touch neurotic, though, so all the worst case scenarios like to prance through my mind as I'm thinking about things. Someone slap me, please.)

So if you are the International Quilt Festival next weeked from April 11-13 at the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, be sure to stop off and see me and the other wonderful artists at Open Studios. Here are my times again:

Friday April 11


Saturday April 12

12:30pm-2:30pm & 4:30pm-6:30pm

Sunday April 13

I promise I will have my hair brushed, smell good, and be stitching away on something with products from either my studio or the show floor.

See you soon.

06 April 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

Spring is audible at every turn. Even the plants pushing themselves through the tired ground breathe new sounds into the world. The earth sighs with relief as the temperatures warm and light becomes abundant. The ground is soon to be drenched in color and life, blooming and growing and stretching itself as far as the eye can see.

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.

05 April 2008

Meet Hubert

Today a group of us attended a class on how to make sock creatures. This is the one I made, I named him Hubert.

I feel new addiction coming on. I can't help but wonder what all my socks would look like made into odd little monsters. Someone at the class asked if I would use socks that I knitted to make these guys. Clearly she is unaware that I knit at the speed of mud. Its not likely to happen (quick knitting or not).

Deb took lots of pictures today. Check her blog as she'll probably put them up in the next few days. Check her blog now too while you're at it, she's got awesome photos of her trip from Florida which will surely make you jealous and want to stuff yourself into her suitcase when she goes back.

Hubert only took me about an hour to make. He is a bit crooked but I think it adds to his charm. If you were to flip him over, you would see where I had to cut open the back of his head since I wasn't paying close enough attention and stitched shut every seam. Thus preventing such activities as turning the bugger right side out and stuffing him. You know, the unimportant minor stuff.

He's laying on the book Stupid Sock Creatures. I loosely followed the pattern on which is shown next to him. I say loosely because I didn't like the tie tab hook thingy sticking out of his head and I got lazy and didn't put a tail on him. Which I think might have helped make him stand. As it is, he will need to be strung up or skewered to make him stay upright.

I think he needs some friends...

Wendy taught the class and did a fantastic job. Thanks Wendy! You've created many new addicts!

**Kate posted a bunch of pictures of everyone's work as well. Go check it out!

04 April 2008

The List

You know, I am a fairly intelligent person. And I own a calendar. And a planner that I dilligently write down all my events in. And I’m conscious of what the date is.

So WHY, in the name of all things that are holy, can I think constantly about going on a trip, then look at a calendar and feel a complete meltdown coming on when I realize how much I have to do before I leave?!? It makes me feel like such a freak.

Such is my mental state at the moment about the trip to IQF.

I looked at the calendar today.

I realized I leave next Wednesday.

I counted (which is a good skill for engineers to have) and determined that is four days away.

I am now officially freaked. (And its the kind of freak-out-feeling like you get when you watch a scary movie and you just know someone's head is about to get lopped off. You can see it coming but you are helpless to stop it or avoid it. That's pretty much where I'm at.)

So in all my wonderful Virgo-like logic, I decided I would feel better if I just made a quick list of what needed to be done before I leave. It was neither a quick list to make, nor will it be to execute. And it keeps growing as I keep thinking about things. (I fear that Cathy’s car will not be large enough. I suppose I could always ride on the roof.)

I hate the list.

The list is evil.

The list seeks to stress me out and torture me into believing that I will not be able to pull this off. It is the devil.

I think I will burn the list.

I can do this. I just have to ration time. I’ve always thought that humans are so poorly designed, having the requirement to lay completely still for at least eight hours everyday. Think of all the stuff we could do if we didn’t need to rest. Blasted sleep.

Tonight will be domestic duties, which includes bathing the Dooley dog. Cathy will be meeting him for the first time when she comes to pick me up and he will be embarrassed if he does not look his finest. He is nothing else if not a good host. (Although I wish he had the ability to wash himself. He’s rather short so getting into the tub would be quite the feat but still, I need to train him to do something.)

And of course tomorrow I am doing absolutely nothing related to preparing for the trip. I am taking a class on how to make Stupid Sock Creatures. (Not that I feel a class is required to execute one of the little buggers but let’s face it, its far more interesting to make stuff when you are sitting amongst a group of fellow odd artists making the same thing.) And I’m looking forward to it so I’m not canceling it. Perhaps if I finish the fellow I can take him on a photo safari during IQF. I know, I’m weird.

Sunday is taken up by a baby shower. But hey, you gotta celebrate the little wee people, so that ought to be fun.

I’m wishing now I had taken Monday and Tuesday off as well from work but allotted vacation time is limited and they are cranky over there so its probably better that I don’t. Its not always a wise thing to taunt the crazy people.

Perhaps I will burn the list and just wing it. It might make things more interesting.

02 April 2008

The Next Step

**Note: This is long and rambly and most likely intensely boring for those of you who don't care about how I make my art quilts. My apologies in advance, I can blabber with the best of them. If you are interested, read on and join me in making odd little art quilts.

Here's the follow up post to The First Step post about how I design my art quilts. This is one of the pieces traveling with me to Open Studios next week. (Yup, you read it right. Next week. As in about six days away. Commence the I-must-finish-gathering-all-my-stuff freak out.)

So in the first post I talked about how I selected stuff to design quilts around. I had come up with a pile of stuff that struck my fancy at that time (admittedly I was pretty distracted by the fact that my digital camera was pitching a dying fit at the same time). Upon revisiting my junk (said with great affection), I pulled a few more items. This is one of them:

This is something I snatched up while at one of my art meetings. We meet at a scrapbook store and there are always tons of things to oogle each time. What's that you say? Paper doesn't belong on a quilt? Au contraire, my friend. These are not normal quilts. Its going on there.

What attracted my attention with this is the bold type. I liked the weathered look and I liked the tone of it. I really like using text on my quilts. (If you like words on quilts, go check out Jackie's work. Wowsers, she is the queen of text.) So it seems logical with this item that I would choose to focus on the letters from this piece.

Enter the letters:

I decided to concentrate on the B and the E. So I created a column above and below the paper tag, with the B's on top and the E's below. At this point, I've got the central embellishments finalized.

I will add more junk (said with great affection) to these but this is what everything else will be designed around. The next thing to do is select fabric. Which often results in me dumping my fabric boxes on the floor and creating a spectacular mess. As is my habit, I usually start with a dark background and go from there. Take a look:

I'm not real happy with the letters on the black background nor the paper tag. I also want to create more of a focal point for the 3d letters. You can see above the tag that I started looked at another color. So the auditions begin:

Some of these burn too bright against the black and others are too pale. So we now know what to do next: dump the black as a background.

Before you look at the next photo let me just say that I really really really tried not to use orange. Honest to God, I swear. But I'm helpless against it, that color just calls to me. (I know Sid knows my pain. Hey there purple girlfriend!) So here we are:

I did not like the way the letters looked against the orange. Most of them are silver or copper and they were loosing the battle against such an intense color. So I grabbed some darker fabric (are you surprised I put orange and purple together? I am, too. Hey you in the back? Quit snickering.) I also didn't like the way they looked against the black in the previous photos, the contrast was too sharp so the deeper purple is a logical choice. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

So with the fabric selected, there is only the task of putting the quilt sandwich together. I think of this more as creating a canvas because like I said before, these will not be the only 3d objects on the quilt. They are simply the anchor around which every other item and stitch will be placed.

Here's what it looks like after making the canvas:

I wish I could explain how I create the shape or texture on it after I'm done picking out fabrics but I can't. This is where personal taste and creativity come in. All I can say is that you can't think of these types of art quilts as what normally comes to mind when you hear the word quilt. They are fabric and stitching but they are very collage like and outside the norm. There are no log cabins or flying geese here. (Which I admire traditional quilting so I'm not knocking it, no hate mail.)

I've been asked many times to teach a class on how to make these art quilts and I've struggled with the idea of it. Sure, there is plenty I could explain to you. I could discuss embellishments/found objects that work well and ones that don't. I can talk to you about color selection and how to attach things and how to determine the size of your piece and how not to be afraid of glue. But I can't teach creativity. So that's where I usually hit a brick wall with the whole thing. So I guess I will put the class in the back of my mind for a while longer and see if it ferments into anything interesting.

So what I am left with now is the foundation for stitching and adding more embellishments. This involves a lot of staring. I'll lay other things across it, decide I'm nuts, and try again. I'll talk to myself and grumble and eventually find the threads and beads and little bits that look at home on the piece.

I've already packed up all the odds and ends so I'm not going to show those. But I do want to do another post showing how I attach things (embrace glue, that's all I have to say) and how I determine the size of the pieces and placements of things. There is lots to work through on each one of these.

Oh, and just for the record, this is the ONLY one out of the six that I put together that is orange and purple. I stood back and looked at all of them after I had laid them out together and one thought ran through my mind, "I look like I'm schizophrenic." Each one is extremely different, in color and in topic.

I used to get all angsty about the fact that I don't really work in a true series. But then I realized these types of quilts are a series in and of themselves. I've been told that its easy to identify my work so they are tied together by my stitching and habits. But I decided to just enjoy them for what they are and just do whatever feels right.

So that's my rambling for tonight. Whew. That's a lot of talking....oh don't worry, I'll be back.