30 September 2010

the tale of 7 assemblages

The last ten days have been a blur.

At one point I got to thinking about the fact that I had ten days left to finish three assemblages. I won't lie, I felt pretty good about myself. Granted, I've known about the show for many months but still, ten days to make three assemblages seemed so totally doable (especially since I knew what I wanted to do). I even said to myself, "Self? Well done. You'll be done ahead of schedule. You go on with your big bad self."

Smugness ensued.

And then a huge deadline/opportunity fell smack in the middle of my lap. It was one of those things that you don't say no to, no matter how tight the deadline. I sat down and listed everything that would need to happen in the next ten days.

Smugness evaporated.

I took a deep breath and had a little talk with myself and decided that it was doable and all would be well.

I don't want to reveal the opportunity that showed up because, well, I'm a little superstitious about it and like to wait until there is no turning back before I tell a whole bunch of people. I can give a little hint in the form of a picture:

Photos of various activities were necessary involving thermo screens. (Maybe not so secret anymore?) Won't be long until I can completely spill the beans so be patient...

At the same time, I continued to work on the assemblages. Glue, paint, stare at it and will it to dry with the power of my mind (doesn't work by the way)...rinse and repeat.

Between the two projects, I've been chained to my studio. Which really isn't all that horrible of a thing when you think about it. But now that poor room looks like this:

Trust me when I say the mess continues on the other side of the work table closest to the door. I actually had a dream last night in which I was cleaning up and couldn't stop and felt an unreasonable amount of glee about the whole thing. (Is that the first sign of cracking up?)

I can't stand the train wreck. I plan to correct that quickly. Things got out of control quickly but there was no time to stop and tidy. Every second counted.

And many of those seconds resulted in this group:

Seven assemblages.

An exhausted artist.

A destroyed studio.

These hang tomorrow morning. I'm excited (on the inside, I'm too tired to physically express it). I can't wait to see what Joan and Leann have, its going to be a really exciting show.

I plan to treat myself by going out to the Farmer's Market in Farmington on Saturday morning to buy some handmade soap from Relic Soap Company. I bought a bar of their soap at the Plymouth Art Fair this past summer and have been trying to find the time to go visit them again before the outdoor selling season is over. Its the best handmade soap I've ever come across.

The time has come. I want soap. And sleep. Sleep and soap. Sounds like a plan.

27 September 2010

no assembly required exhibit - you're invited!

It's almost here - October 1. And that means that its nearly time for the assemblage show Leann, Joan and I have been working on putting together.

We've been planning it for so long that it seems nearly impossible that it's almost here. And we'd love for you to join us!

On October 10 all three of us will be lurking around the Bean (the most awesome coffee shop in Plymouth where the show is hanging) and we'd love it if you would stop by, grab yourself a cup of joe, see the show and have a chat with us.

Here are the details:

no assembly required assemblage exhibit

Where: Plymouth Coffee Bean

When: Sunday October 10, 2010

Time: 2pm-5pm

The show will be up from October 1 - November 30th, 2010 so there is plenty of time to stop by and see it.

Hope to see you on October 10th!

26 September 2010

where i stand sunday

The cold crept in around the edges when no one was looking, seeping quietly inward toward the center. Its a quiet invader, showing itself suddenly and yet somehow passively. I welcome the changing in the guard, watching as the violent stutter of autumn sets the trees to burning with vibrant color and decay.

Where I Stand 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. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

25 September 2010

loving the imperfect print

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking to a traditional quilter about screen printing fabric. She wants to start making art quilts and was asking me about the class I'm teaching at the Northville Art House in a few weeks.

She asked if she could see some samples and luckily I had some with me. So I pulled out several pieces of hand printed fabric (what? You don't carry art cloth around with you?) and she set to work examining them.

I watched as her face moved between fascination and then the scrutiny took hold, then a somewhat worried look. I asked her what she was thinking and she waved her hand, telling me nothing. I already knew what was going through her mind, it wasn't the first time I'd witnessed The Look from traditional quilters, so I pressed her to tell me what she was thinking.

She looked thoughtful and then nicely said, "There are some mistakes." The sentence was full of apology and I asked her to point out to me all the areas that she thought were mistakes and sure enough, she singled out a tiny paint smudge, an edge of an image that wasn't perfectly crisp, a repeat print that was a little crooked.

We had a nice discussion about imperfect printing. I wasn't offended but I'm noticing that a lot of people equate perfection with skill or quality of work. I have a very different view point when it comes to this topic. Its not a defensive one but one that I feel bears voicing.

I take great pride in my work. I do my very best to make it as good as it can be and believe me, I have pretty picky standards. But perfect? Perfect isn't possible and its not something I'm willing to torture myself into finding.

I print my own fabric because I want those imperfections that add character and charm. That doesn't mean that I give no consideration to design or print sloppy or release myself from doing quality work. What it means is that if one of those imperfect areas appears, I embrace it as part of the process and continue on.

The quest for perfection is often a crippling one. I'm not willing to go there. Much of my art cloth gets cut up and reassembled into different forms and more often then not, I find myself drawn to the areas that are just a little bit crooked or smudged. For me, there is great beauty in it.

Perfection is not the point of creating art cloth. Having a role in my work from beginning to end is. And that's why I do it.

So let your hair down and embrace the less then perfect print, don't turn your nose up at it or discount it as a mistake and wasted effort. I'm not perfect, I have many flaws yet the people in my life have found good reason to keep me around for a lot of years.

Enjoy the process and see what happens when you relax and let things just flow. You may find yourself falling in love with that little smudge.

24 September 2010

an open letter to spiders

Dear Mr. Arachnid,

I understand that you and I have our issues. Its understandable. I find you creepy in every way humanly possible and you have objections to me repeatedly smashing you with heavy objects. I think we are both justified in our dislikes.

However, I take issue with the incident of one of your own today. It was uncalled for, underhanded, and quite frankly, an open invitation to me to wage all out war on every single one of your kind. Lucky for you, you make me scream like a little girl so the odds of me seeking you out (even for the purpose of destroying you) is highly unlikely.

I was in a zen mood today. It was a lovely, although rather windy, early autumn day. I was heading out to the American Sewing Expo for a day amongst my people. I struck out into the day armed with a travel mug full of some pumpkin flavored coffee. I happily sipped at the mug as I drove, humming along to the radio.

And that's when it struck.

Coffee is supposed to be smooth. There should be no lumps of any kind. Much less lumps that have the ability to squirm in your mouth as they attempt to crawl across your tongue.

I don't appreciate it when spiders take a swim in my coffee. I appreciate it even less when I drink them. I appreciate it even less when they remain alive and try to escape.

I did what any rationale human being would do. I spit coffee across my dashboard and all down the front of my shirt. After I pulled over, I found the offender and chucked him ruthlessly out the window. (Luckily I dress in a dark color palette so staining was not a concern. I considered forging ahead but I smelled like a pumpkin pastry and could only imagine the looks I would incur as I walked through the aisles.)

I must admit that his presence certainly helped in the awakening department (the coffee was a little weak) but I still did not find the experience pleasant.

So I am lodging a formal public complaint against all spiders. Please let your kind know that I will show no mercy, am considering buying a small hammer to assist me in the smashing of you when you come near me and I do not feel the least bit guilty about it all.

You have been warned. That is all.



21 September 2010

2010 Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit Favorite

The 2010 Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit will be hung at the American Sewing Expo this week. This is the fifth year that I've run the exhibit, and the third year that it has served as a fundraiser to help a fellow artist raise funds for a cause.

The 2008 exhibit benefited Virginia Spiegel's Fiberart for a Cause project (which raises funds for the American Cancer Society), the 2009 exhibit benefited Bernie Berlin's animal shelter A Place to Bark and the 2010 exhibit is benefiting Claudine Intner's Art Now for Autism (which raises funds for Autism Speaks.)

The exhibit this year is small but it is very mighty. There is a lot of emotion and beauty packed into the 30 quilts that will go up for exhibit and I'm once again honored and humbled to organize an event that helps bring them to the forefront for others to see.

Each year an exhibit favorite is chosen and this year, the quilt is "Phil's Temple" by Holly Kreag:

Here is Holly's artist statement: This quilt is dedicated to my nephew, Phil, who was recently diagnosed with autism. He lives in Japan, and visited me in the U.S. last year, just prior to his diagnosis. At the time, he repeated almost everything that was said to him. He has since progressed and moved out of the repeating phase. I wrote a haiku (a Japanese poem) about my memory of his visit. Creating this quilt was a comfort to me, and made me feel closer to Phil.

The haiku that is on Holly's quilt reads:

Repeats what you say
Not sure what he's thinking, but
answers your questions

As in past years, I'll be putting together an online and print catalog of the show. If you are in the area this weekend, please stop by the expo and take a look at the exhibit!

20 September 2010

a bundle of randomness

August flew by in a wicked blur and it appears that September is just as moody since its not been polite enough to slow down so I can get a grip on things. Things are a-hoppin' at Chez Fibra Artysta. I've been meaning to blog (which I detest saying, its a dirty phrase) but since I've been scurrying around instead of writing, lots of things have happened. So instead of individual posts, I'm smooshing them all together into a list of random.

(1) On Saturday I attended a meeting of the Michigan chapter of the Surface Design Association. It was the first time I met this group and I had a really nice time. The state rep mentioned that they were looking for people to do demos so since I believe it is my solemn calling on earth to addict everyone to thermofax screen printing, I drug along my screens and paints:

Bear in mind that I did this demo in front of professors from Wayne State University. With my own special way of printing which basically involves flinging paint at the screen and then attacking it like I'm flattening flies. Has little to do with the "proper" way to print. Not sure what they thought of that but I had a blast and plan to go back. No getting rid of me now.


(2) I've got three of the seven assemblages done for the show I'm in next month:

A fourth is nearly finished and the other three look like this:

Have faith, will ya? I've got skills. I'll make it.


(3) One of my errands today involved obtaining these little vinyl farm animals for one of the nearly done boxes:

I apologize if you are an herbivore. This box is actually meant to be humorous (and will be when I'm done with it, the little guys are staging a protest encouraging people to eat more bacon). By the time I'm done with it it will be. Now that I have the protesters, it will come together in no time at all.


(4) I added two new paint colors to the shop. Pond Scum and Blue Lagoon.

They are both rather nice metallics. I'm not a huge metallic fan and I really like these, all the metallics from Simply Screen are subtle. And while I acknowledge that it may be a marketing mistake to call the light olive green one Pond Scum (who looks at their artwork and says, "I think all this needs is a dash of scum! That's the ticket!), don't be deterred. Its a very pretty color.


(5) I upgraded my ipod touch to the latest one. I always said the only way I would is if they came out with one with a camera in it. The buggers did so now I have. The nice thing about it is that Dooley doesn't realize its a camera so I can take as many pictures of little man as I want without him fleeing:

The picture quality is pretty nice, dont'cha think? Its certainly not going to replace my good camera but its blog worthy quality and that's exactly what I wanted from it.


(6) Unfortunately the new ipod renewed my interest in the game apps available and I came across a free one called Pocket Frogs:

Its a cross between being a mad scientist and a frog pimp. The objective is to breed as many new species as you can. I'd like to say that I tried it, found it amusing and then set it aside. I'd like to say that. But I made it to level 5. Someone stop me now... (Oh, and Moviecat! is also a very entertaining movie trivia game. Just in case you needed another way to waste time.)


(7) I read a blog called whatever. Meg, the talented photographer and writer of the blog, went on a missionary trip to Africa not long ago. She took along a suitcase full of children's vitamins and in the time since she's been there, the vitamins have been all used up. She's asking for donations of kid's vitamins to send along with the next person who travels there. (All the info can be found in this blog post.) My vitamins are at the ready - would you consider donating too?


(8) I'm working on a new monthly newsletter. It will be separate from the blog and include things about classes I'm teaching, nifty thermofax screen printing tips, exhibits I'm in, coupons and announcements about the shop, interviews with artists. The first one will go out in a couple of weeks. If you're interested in receiving it, please send me an email at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with a subject line of "subscribe to newsletter" and you'll be on the list.

That's all I've got. Well, not really. I've got a lot more and could babble for hours but really, there has to be a limit. I've got to get Breaking Traditions prepped for the American Sewing Expo. It hangs this Thursday so there will be some more info on that coming soon. Catch you later chickens!

19 September 2010

printed project sunday

Printed Project Sunday is a new series of blog posts that will appear every third sunday. The purpose of these posts are to feature artists so that you may get to know them better and hopefully inspire you to try some screen printing of your own!

Cercis 9 by B.J. Parady

The first post in this series features artwork from the very talented B.J. Parady. The background fabric of Cercis 9 (shown above) was created using deconstructed screen printing. Other methods used to create the work include stamping, fused scrim, shiva paintsticks and machine quilting.

From B.J.'s website: My art reflects the microcosm in which I live where the tall grass prairie used to be. I am inspired daily by the big skies, the reflection of light on water, the remaining remnants of native plants. Because I have come to embrace the idea of abstraction capturing the essence of a moment rather than a literal depiction of a scene that could just as easily be photographed many of my new pieces are in the style of the abstract expressionists.

If you are new to deconstructed screen printing, here is a brief clip from the deconstructed screen printing queen herself, Kerr Grabowski:

Please visit B.J.'s website and blog to view more of her work.

Printed Project Sunday highlights artwork that features hand printed fabric or paper. The methods vary from traditional screen printing, deconstructed screen printing, thermofax screen printing, monoprinting, gelatin plate printing - anything you can think of! If you would like to have your work featured on the blog, send an image and explanation of your work to FibraArtysta@earthlink.net All work, images and text are copyright of the contributing artists and are posted with permission.

15 September 2010


I've been driving myself mad lately (and a few friends as well) when it comes to the topic of creating a consistent banner for all my sites.

The problem I had is that I don't have a clear cut logo. Because I brand myself under the name Fibra Artysta (which means fiber artist in polish by the way and is no more difficult to pronounce then my last name which seriously lacks in the vowel category), its not so easy to come up with a graphic to represent that.

I can't count how many versions I ran through and how much staring I did at other logos and banners for ideas. It often ended with me giving the computer horrible dirty looks and stomping away with fierce determination to ignore it with all the might I had.

But today I spent time setting up my new newsletter that will deal with all things thermofax. And there it was: the need for a tag line and header.

If you've been to my website or etsy store, you noticed that the blog, website and shop all had different headers. Its been annoying me in a gigantic manner for some time.

Today I sucked it up. I'm pretty happy with the end result. The graphic is based on the most popular screen in the shop. Its simple, abstract (which describes my art and writing style) and will be super easy to screen print. (Mom said it looks like a microwave. She may have a point...)

Now everything looks the same. Which means I've been branded. But to be honest, that sort of sounds like I'm a cow with some crazy ranch hand chasing after me with a burning hot iron so I don't know that I really like that description.

At any rate, the twitch beneath my eye is calming down a little bit. Now I can continue building up the new newsletter. With less twitching. And branding. Branding that looks like a microwave...*sigh*

13 September 2010

how to make lousy photos do your bidding

I tried to come up with a snappier title to this post but really, the one up there pretty much sums it up.

A friend of mine mentioned on her blog that she had just taken several photos of her art quilts but there was something off about them, she was going to have to shoot them again.

I actually screamed "Wait!" at my laptop. (I don't think she heard me.) I left a comment saying that minor (and sometimes major) keystoning and distortion can be corrected in photoshop really easily.

I'll be giving her a lesson soon but thought maybe you all would like to see this too. Some of you may already know it but if you don't, it can be the difference between sanity and drooling in the corner when you've got a lot of photos to take.

I use Photoshop Elements 8. Now before you go saying that's a super expensive program you can't afford, I'm here to say not true. Its $80. Works on PC and Mac. Its essentially the little brother version to the full blown suite but it performs well for everything I need to do. So that's what I'll be showing.

First you need a really crappy photo. I was a bit horrified to find this one in my library when I went looking:

I haven't a clue why I shot this at such a weird angle. I ended up re-shooting this because I couldn't correct the lighting to my satisfaction but we're going to pretend for the sake of this exercise that the lighting is text book perfect (work with me here). We're going to focus on making it look like this:

(I left all of the screen shots of working in the program pretty big so click on them to make them blow up.)

So here's what you do if your picture just flat out sucks and you (a) don't have time to re-shoot it or (b) are feeling bitter and refuse to let it rule your life by taking another picture of it (what? you've never felt that way?)

Step 1: Open your crappy picture up in Photoshop


Step 2: Click on the "Filter" pull-down menu and select "Correct Camera Distortion" (this command is your best friend)


Step 3: You'll see a new window with a grid across your image and commands on the right hand side.


Step 4: Here is where you can correct keystoning on your picture. The middle section is labeled "Perspective Control." Our photo obviously has huge issues on the horizontal perspective so we're going to use the slider labeled "Horizontal Perspective."


Step 5: Simply move the slider to the right or left and watch as your photo flattens out. The grids over the image will help you know when to quit.


Step 6: Click OK when you are happy with how it looks and it will take you back to the main workspace window. Notice the checkerboard pattern on the left hand side. This shows that the image has been tilted. (Told you it was a lousy photo.) I tend to leave a decent amount of room around my images when I shoot them so that if I need to correct any keystoning, there is enough border for me to do so. Sometimes it gets a little difficult if you have cropped it in real close.


Step 7: If you're still not happy with how it looks, go back and mess with the horizontal and vertical perspective sliders some more. When you're done, crop it and no one will ever be the wiser.


Step 8: You can also correct distortion on the image. This time when we say distortion we are referring to an image that looks like its falling in on itself (concave) or bulging (convex). If you go back to the "Correct Camera Distortion" under the "Filter" pull down, you'll notice a slider bar at the very top labeled "Remove Distortion."


Step 9: Our photo doesn't have any distortion of this kind to correct but look what happens if we move the slider to the right - the image becomes concave:


Step 10: And if we move the image to the left, it becomes convex:

So if your image has some weird bulginess happening, you can fix that up with "Remove Distortion" and make it look less like something from a Tim Burton movie set.

I try to be pretty careful taking my photos but let's face it, its not possible to make them perfect every single time. Its comforting to know that Photoshop has me covered and that I can tweak things and make them look better.

Now you know too. Happy photos for everyone!

12 September 2010

mixing things up - short story sunday

Since I have no ability to shut up when it comes to blogging, I don't regard my weekly sunday post a necessity anymore. I started Where I Stand Sunday because I wanted to train myself into a regular blogging habit. I think its pretty clear from my endless babbling that it worked.

But I love the regular Sunday posting. Seeing as how Where I Stand has gone on for nearly three years now, I think its safe to say that a little bit of variety would be welcome. I don't plan to kill off the essay but I'd like to add it into a rotation. I've been giving it some thought as to what I'd like to trade it off with and I came up with two other things.

Printed Project Sunday

I'm a screen printing junkie. I think the whole world should be covered in it. Its a certain kind of magic that never gets old. And I know I'm not alone on this. Printed Project Sunday will be a showcase kind of posting of any screen printed thing.

But not my stuff. My stuff gets featured all the time on the blog. I want your stuff (keep it clean, please, this is a PG rated blog).

It doesn't need to be something printed with a thermofax screen - although you'll warm my heart if it is. It can be deconstructed screen printing, experimental screen printing, homemade screen printing, gocco screen printing, any kind of screen printing. Email me a picture of your project at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with its story (what kind of screen printing you used, the story of the project, your blog/website info, etc).

Anyone who is featured on the blog will go into a drawing for a free thermofax screen from my etsy shop. Since this kind of posting will only show up every three weeks, we'll do a drawing every three months. Want to play? Get emailing.

Short Story Sunday

I don't talk a lot about my writing here. But I do a lot of it. Its something I'm still getting comfortable sharing. The closest I've come are the captions on the Where I Stand photos. I consider the mini captions a challenge - just to see how much I can cram into a few short sentences.

I'm going to do a different version. I'll grab one of my photos (not of my feet) and attach a short story to it. I'm not going to set a limit on how many words or sentences but it won't be more then a few of paragraphs.

My writing style is much like my fiber art style - a bit abstract and incomplete around the edges. I'm not going to angst over these, they'll be written off the cuff. While I am planning right now to use my own photos, if you have one that you'd like to share, I'd love to use it.

So there it is. I hope you'll find the new posts interesting. If they don't work out we'll move on to something else.

Without further ado, I give you the first Short Story Sunday post.


Short Story Sunday

He leaned back in the driver's side, resting his head, letting it tilt slightly to the left. There was a time when he would rush from the car the moment he pulled into the driveway. But these days he took his time, let the day tick off his shoulders with each breath.

The sun seemed like it had lost its hold on the sky, it slipped lower quicker every day. The year was closing up shop. It made him feel weary and relieved all at the same time. The promise of something new was few and far between, something to trap between both hands.

He reached out and laid his hand across the box in the passenger side. The airbag sensor had binged at him the entire drive home, insistent that there was someone in that seat that needed to be secured. It wasn't entirely wrong. The box was important. But it wasn't something that could be bundled into safety with something as simple as a seat belt. He tapped his finger lightly against one corner.

With a reflexive sigh he hoisted it into his lap, balancing it against the steering wheel as he pushed the door open. The sun had slipped even lower in the ten minutes he had been sitting there. He stood for a moment, watching as the tree line blurred into a fuzz against the graying sky.

There was always something ending, something always beginning. He slipped quietly into the house, with the watered down sunlight at his back, holding his own cardboard beginning between his two hands.

Short Story Sunday is a series of mini stories based on random photos. They are quick, spontaneous flashes of abstract fiction.

11 September 2010

considering cannibalism

I've been a wee bit stressed the past couple of weeks. There have been various events that have worked hard to produce a twitch beneath my right eye that feels sort of like its grooving to a club techno beat. (No amount of rubbing, tugging, or cursing removes this phenomenon by the way.)

Last night I was out with Leann and Deb. Leann moved the conversation toward the assemblage show that she and I and Joan are putting on this October & November.

Apparently Leann has six completed and Joan is nearly done with five. (We have to make seven each.) If you combine the three that I've started, I've got half of one done. Which means I'm way way way way way way way behind.

I knew this but somehow having her verbalize how many she and Joan have done sent that twitch beneath my eye stomping full force across my face.

After I got home I did what any rationale artist would do: I marched straight up to my studio and had myself a little freak-out.

I examined other assemblages I did and considered breaking them apart and cannibalizing them into new work. I pulled out every drawer from my storage units that have found objects in them. I made a complete and utter mess on every flat surface available.

Then I edited them back to two piles:

After I ran a few errands this morning I set to business. This month is as busy as last and I need to manage my time better. (This could be the mantra of my life.) Prior to going to Fabrications I had put myself on a schedule of X amount of time in the studio to get things done. Saturday is an art day and that's what I did.

By the end of it, I have four that are near complete. I realized that one reason I had stalled was because I was planning to do all seven very similar to each other. That sort of stripped back the biggest part of why I love assemblages - which is the spontaneity of it all.

So I played. I pulled together whatever I thought was fun and just went with it. I stopped because the four in progress are in drying stages right now but tomorrow I should be able to glue together the rest of the main elements. I'm big into detail work on assemblages so getting all the gluing out of the way will be huge.

I have ideas for two more which will put me at the six mark. Here's where I ended with four today (these are just progress pictures, they aren't complete by any means):

(* The four small pieces with the felt pebbles are the only cannibalism committed. They are small wall art pieces I made last year for a holiday bazzaar that didn't sell well so they are getting moved into a new role.)

And here is what my work table currently looks like:

I'm hoping to have a repeat performance tomorrow. Its assemblage central around here. And mess central. And twitchy eye central. Lots of centrals...

08 September 2010

35 things

Today is my birthday. Another year is gone. Its come with a lot of changes, which is to be expected.

Every year on my birthday I write a list of things that I've learned or observed over the past year. Some are trivial, some are serious, some are just plain silly. I usually begin about a week before the date turns. I figure that by the time I'm old I'll have a long book of things that make me feel pretty smart. (Or just really old. We'll have to wait and see on that one.)

I thought that this year I would post it here on the blog.

So in honor of turning 35 this year, I give you the 35 things I've learned over the past year:

(1) Imagination is a powerful thing.

(2) Everything is a choice.

(3) The westie makes an excellent heating pad in winter time. (And summer time but its not quite as convenient.)

(4) I'd be nothing if I couldn't make art.

(5) Favorite pass time for year 34: making outlines of where my life could go if there were absolutely no restrictions.

(6) Wondering where those restrictions come from...

(7) Friends with blue hair are just all kinds of crazy.

(8) I need a twelve step program for yarn collecting.

(9) No matter how stressful life is, there is always something good hiding around the edges.

(10) I have an excellent mother.

(11) My brother is an outstanding photographer. I am always in awe.

(12) Its becoming easier to call myself an artist, a writer. I wonder at where that comfort level suddenly came from.

(13) I worry less about what people think of me.

(14) The wesite sits and stares out the window each morning like its something brand new each time. I wonder it would be to look at life that way all the time.

(15) When things aren't working right, its okay to walk away. Its okay to seek a more peaceful existence. Its okay to take care of yourself.

(16) I attract mutant zombie horrific and all means of disgusting species of bugs. I will work on accepting this as part of my natural charm (although secretly I want to squash it as dead as all the buggies).

(17) My friends are cool.

(18) There are limitations to how washable "washable" paint really is when you are trying to remove it from surfaces where it does not belong. I've discovered them all.

(19) I'm working on world domination for one simple reason: to make it autumn all year round.

(20) Favorite quote: "Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon."

(21) YouTube taught me how to knit. Weird.

(22) I am becoming immune to coffee and require stronger and larger doses to keep the blood pumping. I consider this a cruel joke and expect this effect to reverse itself during year 35. That is all.

(23) My life is held together with a series of lists. Ironic that. Since I just listed that fact in a list.

(24) I've got a good life. And I'm grateful for it.

(25) Its okay to ask for help. People are usually happy to do it if they can. And regardless of my own internal hang ups, they do not think less of me because I can't do everything myself.

(26) Favorite book during year 34: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I've read it three times and plan to read it again.

(27) The years are going by faster. I need to pay closer attention.

(28) Pets are magic. No matter how lousy your day has been, how upset you feel, or if you are overjoyed, they are right there in the trenches with you - celebrating and comforting.

(29) I love words. I love putting them together, making them tell a story, watching them march across the page in purpose.

(30) If I invent one thing in my lifetime, it will be studio minions that will clean up after me as I work, sew hanging sleeves on the back of quilts and ship things out for me. They will also sing upon request and do little dances. I'll let you know when I have that sorted out.

(31) Its a little thrilling to begin all over again.

(32) Everything is simple once you break it down to its simplest elements. I lived by this dogma all of my work life. Now I realize it applies everywhere else to. Which means anything can be done if you have the mind to do it.

(33) I like teaching art classes. I'm going back to it.

(34) My bedroom is painted like a candy corn. I realized this after it was done. Somehow it seems fitting.

(35) I've absolutely no idea what comes next and that's okay.

Here's to a new year. Bring it on number 35.

07 September 2010

studying with the master

When Cathy put up the class listings for this year's Fabrications Retreat, I was immediately drawn to Carol Soderlund's Color Mixing for Dyers I class.

I'd heard talk about that class, that you come away with a bible of colors (affectionately referred to as "The Book"), formulas, precision. Any of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that I have a love/hate relationship with dyes. I've never been able to force them to do my bidding (even after swearing at them which often works with knitting but not so much with dyes, they are apparently immune to my fits). I figured I'd take her class, walk out with some dye formulas and be a happy little camper.

Oh what a naive little dyer I was.

By the end of the first day of class, it was clear that this was not your typical class. Carol meant business. She was intent on cramming as much knowledge into our brains about dyeing as humanly possible in five short days.

I admit that I was overwhelmed by Tuesday night but by the end of the next day, I was totally in love. She knows everything. I mean it. Everything. There isn't a single thing this woman doesn't know about dyeing and she's happy to throw as much at you as you can take.

We worked in teams of three, mixed, stirred, dyed and otherwise crossed over into slap happy territory more then once - and it was perfect. I plan to track Carol's class schedule closely, there isn't a single thing she teaches that I don't want to take. She is precise and expects hard work and I have nothing but the utmost respect for her. (No, I cannot stop gushing...)

I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do this year. Probably because I was so immersed in the class but I did manage a few. Here are some of the lovely people from class:

Lauren (she, me & Cathy were one team)


The lovely, sweet, friendly, helpful, funny, talented Judi Hurwitt of Approachable Art


Jolly Janice, always with a smile on her face!


The master herself, Carol (I want to be her when I grow up)


And just because I love how fabric looks when its dyeing, here are a couple shots of the dye buckets:

We did several dye baths and then each team swapped. I only have one third of my book put together. I plan to work on it when I'm less tired (I've been a total t.v. zombie slug the past two days trying to regain some energy). If you want to see a little bit about it and some more shots from class, be sure to visit this post on Judi's blog.

And just to prove that I do exist (I tend to flee from the camera), here is a shot of me yapping and stirring dye buckets:

I've actually been dreaming about dyeing fabric. That's how much this class has gotten me excited about working with dyes and colors. Of course, its usually some bizarre circumstance like pulling dye buckets out from beneath a counter in a bank and just dumping dye and fabric into them while I'm waiting for the teller to complete my transaction.

Grand time. I highly recommend Carol and the Fabrications Retreat, I can't sing their praises enough.

Carol read us this poem on the last day of class. She said it sums up her love of color and I have to say that if I had read it prior to taking her class, I don't know that I would have understood it. But I do now.

The Place Where the Colors are Made
by Stephen Beal

Someday I will see the place where the colors are made,

The place of my joy.
There will be stairs leading up, wide marble stairs,
and there will be a room,
vast and vaulted and inspiring,
and there will be music, one hundred strings under the baton
of Carmen Dragon,
and there will be dancers, one hundred blondes
gowned by Jean Louis,
whooshing between the pillars in pastel chiffon.

The place is it: huge bubbling cauldrons of color
in which innocent cotton is transformed to gaudy hues,
to scarlet and fuchsia, to purple and gold,
to greens that bite your eyes and blues that lead you on until you think
the world will never end.

Oh, this is it, the place where all your dreams come true,
Where nothing is as it was and everything develops the potential
of what it can be.

Here is the stuff of change, the very stuff,
and you can take it home and hold it in your hands.
No paint will do, no paint will ever come close,
When you can stitch your lover a heart of ruby red, and say,
“This is the color – and the texture – of my love for you.”

Yes. This is the place where the colors are made.
This is the place of joy.

05 September 2010

where i stand sunday

Her colors jump up off the fabric, saturated and vibrant and prickly. We were separated by a hallway but both of our minds swirled deep into color and hues and shades. Everything clicks over how to conjure up colors, colors, colors - beautiful intense unbelievable c-o-l-o-r-s.

Where I Stand 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. (The project is now in Year Three. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

04 September 2010

hello chickens

August 23rd? Seriously? I feel strange having not posted for so long. Maybe the twitch below my eye was blogging withdrawal - bring me blogspot! Stat!

I've been all kinds of crazy busy, mostly getting ready for and then just returning from the fabulous Fabrications Retreat. I took Carol Soderlund's Color Mixing for Dyers class and I feel like I just went through an entire college semester's worth of information in five days.

The pace was insane, the information was plentiful, Carol was incredibly chipper (even first thing in the morning - something I don't comprehend but am always surprised by), and I'd happily do it all over again. Its changed not only the way I see color and dyeing but also in how I take classes. I want the serious heavy duty ones from now on. Bring it on!

Only not just yet...I have to recuperate from this one first.

I have much to share with you. Some photos. Some talking (shocking, right?) but at right this minute I have a westie staring me down in total disgust because not only did I have the nerve to leave him for six days, I'm now choosing to pay attention to the silver box from hell (his description of my laptop) instead of to him.

I'll be posting lots over the next few days. In the meantime, allow me to distract you with the video version of the Modern Quilting Lecture Rossie Hutchinson did a couple of weeks ago. (Follow the link below the one here to see it larger.)

Chat soon chickens...

Modern Quilting, Mutant Quilting from r0ssie Rossie r0ssie on Vimeo.