Saturday, March 28, 2015

Terry's Technicolor Dream Shoes

This is kind of a rant. About shoes. I have reached the point in my life where shoes are constantly on my mind. Not so much because I am such a shoe fashionista, but because my feet hurt and I want comfortable shoes, especially to travel and walk in. And I kind of want them to look good. I have spent way too much money in this quest. I have bought expensive shoes and cheap shoes and lots inbetween.

Last fall when we were going to Spain I read a friend's post on Facebook about the shoes she had worn to Paris and how she wore them everyday and how wonderful and comfortable they were, so I messaged her to find out what they were. Skechers Go Walk shoes. I went out and bought a pair and they were all she claimed and not even really expensive. I took several pairs of shoes to Spain, but these were the shoes I wore.

Here they are walking on beautiful tiles at the Alhambra.

They really are the most comfortable shoes I have worn in recent memory, including some very highly regarded fancy expensive shoes. I loved these shoes. They are squishy, yet supportive. I could walk all day on cobblestones and up crumbling stairs. They are lightweight and actually pretty washable. They held up well and I continue to wear them. Summer is coming and we are planning another trip and I think I want another pair. Something a little more exciting than gray would be nice, but I go here to look at them and what do I find? Gray. More gray. Black. More black. Then, icky pastel-y 5-year-old colors--turquoise, hot pink and lavender. These are not my colors. These, I guess. are old lady shoes. I'll own that. But I am insulted by what, I guess, are supposed to be old lady colors.  These, I suppose, are keyed to go with floral polyester blouses and polyester pull-on pants. Have shoe designers ever really looked at what women of a certain age are wearing outside the nursing home???

I have some suggestions for the designers at Skechers. If you made some good colors I would buy your shoes in multiples. I came up with some ideas. What do you think?

How hard could that be?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Love of Fabric

It's a funny thing, what our passions turn out to be. I know most people don't get as excited about fabric and pattern, and most of all the combination of those two things, the way I do. There are other things that do it for them. Science. Politics. Music. Or...

It is an appetite. That is the best way I can describe it. My eyes crave pattern like my tongue craves certain flavors and textures. And the act of visually "consuming" a particularly rich and diverse selection of textile pattern and color is as satisfying as a wonderful meal.

Last week Paula Benjaminson brought some of her collection of African textiles to show at our SAQA meeting. If you have an appetite for such things it was a feast.

The "crackle" lines in this batiked piece made me crazy in love with it...

Mud. This pattern, color, warm loveliness was created with mud.

Then she brought out her collection of African printing blocks. My heart raced.

I could look at that lizard up there all day.

It was a good day.

Today I have been getting work ready for a show. Labeling, writing up an inventory sheet, rolling, wrapping, packaging, wondering what, if anything, people will like. I never know. Sorting through inventory, I came upon this little piece, made 5 years ago, along with a group of similar pieces.

It was my favorite of the bunch, yet the only one that never sold. So today I carried it back from the studio and hung it next to the closet door just after you walk into the house. Looks like it was meant to be there all along.

It must have been meant for me. I suppose that's why no one else wanted it, though last year at my open studio a woman, who was not buying anything, picked it up, waggled it under my nose and said, " this is the best one..."


Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello, it's me again


I don't need to tell you that my blog has been neglected. I'd like to say it was because I have been so darn busy working that I didn't have time to write. The truth is I've been neglecting the studio as well. Our early, lovely spring weather has had me in its thrall. My friends Kristin and Art LaFlamme came to town to house hunt and stayed in the studio. I couldn't resist tagging along to see some of their house finds and stop for lunch and then go out for dinner. And then I think we did it all over again. After they left, Ray and I took a day off and went downtown to lunch at the food carts in the sunshine and then took in the current show at the Portland Art Museum. I've shopped, I've knit, I've met with friends and spent time with grandchildren. I have not worked at much of anything. It's been great. But today I was ready to get back to work and that orange studio door called to me.

I was back at my little stitched drawings. I liked the natural linen I have been using for the backgrounds and decided to try some on this blue-gray linen. Another scene from the Ecuadoran market. This lady was selling dried corn and beans. Remember the other market piece?

I liked how it turned out and I sent it off for the SAQA conference auction, so I made another, slightly larger.

You know what? Doing the same thing again isn't really fun. I don't think I'll do that again.

My wonderful Dr. Slick fly-tying scissors are so good for trimming those added fabrics.

Winter hardly made an appearance this year. Spring came early and stayed. I'm not complaining and I'm not feeling guilty about enjoying it while everyone back east is buried in snow. A price will be paid, I imagine. It's not good to have so little snowpack in the mountains. Yesterday it rained and blew a tree down at the end of our driveway, but today was beautiful and now, in addition to the daffodils, we have tulips blooming. There is no arguing with tulips. It is spring.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Phone photos

Doesn't it seem like phones have always been cameras? When I think about it, I never dreamed I would be so very attached to and integrated with my phone/camera. Whenever I see something interesting I take its picture. That's my standard operation these days. I delete most, but as I am deleting it's a little moment of, "oh yeah, that was cool." Here's what I'm deleting today.

Took Marco to a playground yesterday and discovered this little fairy structure in the grass. Cleverly made. Each upright twig has a fork at the top to hold a crossbeam.

I nearly stepped on this lizard (Newt? Salamander?) in the yard yesterday. I have only ever seen two or three here. I suppose they are all around, like the frogs I can hear, seemingly by the dozens, but rarely see.

Went to Hillsboro on Sunday. This time of year I always take the back roads just for this:

Daffodils along the roadside. This is but a small section. They are glorious!

Shopping for a new sofa. This is really such a great use for phone cameras. I can "remember" what I saw where; compare; share with Ray.

These were both rejects. Top one way too " slouchy". Why are sofas that are wide enough for three people made with two cushions? Nobody likes sitting in the crack, right? After viewing many more, we decided our old, three-cushion sofa really was perfect, so it will be recovered.

Coffee/teapot that matches our 45 year old, discontinued Dansk stoneware, seen in an antique store in Astoria. Seemed like such a find! I briefly considered buying it, but the $85 price tag slowed me down. Back home I Googled to find I could buy one for about $45 from several internet sources, and when I realized it had never before occurred to me to need one I abandoned the whole idea. I had been seduced by its rarity, or something...

I stopped to notice how the little fiber piece I hung on a tree last summer has weathered. It is developing a nice "rained on" look.

And another little stitched piece. This is an Ecuadoran rooster that was wandering around the courtyard of a grand old building. I am trying out how it looks with a black mat and frame. I like it. I will now go back and buy more frames and mats.

And so it goes...



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When it rains, it pours

Seems like a lot of things have come together all at the same time. I'm feeling really "out there" this month. Unplanned, but it has made for some nice excitement here.

First, the article and pattern for my little sculptural birds that was first published in 2009 has been republished in a new Quilting Arts publication called "Make It". It is great to see that they are still viable and pleases me that people continue to enjoy them.

Then came a copy of a Dutch Magazine called Quilt & Zo, with an interview, photos of my work, and a little project I designed for them.

This was so fun! I wrote it all in English, of course, but the magazine is written in Dutch. I'm not sure my work has ever been translated into another language before. Ray showed the magazine to Sofia, who began reading it aloud, then stopped and said, " what does this mean? It makes no sense!" I am really impressed by how beautifully this article is put together and just sorry my US friends don't have access to it. If you go to their website ( ) and are using a device with Flash player, you can see more of the magazine by clicking the little cover image.

And finally, but maybe most exciting of all, my first article for the beautiful online magazine Through Our Hands, is in the new issue. I will be writing regularly for this quarterly publication.

This is a real thrill for me. The UK based 'zine is the creation of Laura Kemshall and Annabel Rainbow, two artists I have long admired. I love the beautiful, artful focus of the publication. You can read the entire magazine online, even subscribe for free. So much to love here!

This makes me really happy. Really happy!

Monday, February 23, 2015

You never know...

...when something—the smallest thing even—will trigger an idea, or the solution to a problem. Last week at our High Fiber Diet meeting, one of the members casually mentioned a technique she had learned that involved sewing layers of fabrics together, from the back, then cutting away layers. It was the part about sewing on the backside that triggered an "aha" and I could hardly wait to get home and see if my hunch was right.

You may have seen the small pieces I have been doing where I "draw" by stitching with black thread, like the one in this post. I like doing this, but have been struggling with using the heavier thread that I like. It breaks. It shreds. And it frustrates me. But it suddenly occurred to me that if the nice thread was in the bobbin and did not have to pass through the eye of a needle, it might behave better. It also presented me a way of using a drawing to guide my stitching without having to use pencil on the face of the piece. I drew my design on a piece of very light non-woven interfacing and put it on the back, then stitched.

I like it!

I tried a couple more, experimenting with simplifying and adding another layer of fabric in select areas.


These are tiny—5" x 7" and I think will go in frames with mats.

My Shakespeare quilt is finished. I will photograph it one of these days and post it.


Sunday, February 15, 2015


We moved to Portland in February, 23 years ago. I was thinking about that this morning and remembering how gray and dark it was. We arrived in the rain and the rain didn't quit for the rest of that February. We had brought our cat, Daisy, with us from sunny Ashland and her response to the move was to spend her days sleeping, with her head wedged into the darkest corner of the house. Seasonal affective depression, I figured. It wasn't until June that she perked up and began to make peace with her surroundings. My mood was similar and I was pretty certain that we had made a bad mistake. Things got better and Daisy and I grew to love Portland, but February is usually not Portland's best month. A good month for a southerly vacation.

But look at February 2015. It has been like spring today. Ray and I walked another section of the Fanno Creek Trail this morning. This new section connects our old walk to our new walk and winds through a no-mans-land along the edges of wetlands and an industrial/business park area with busy highway 217 in the background. In the picture above there is an old railroad siding with a couple rusty old cars. Below, the view of Fanno Creek included the Beaverton school bus lot in the distance.

A beautiful day for a walk. At home flowers are starting to bloom. I can't believe spring is here so early. After that first rainy February we spent in Portland we had a massive March snowstorm. I guess that could happen again. Not likely if today is any indication.


Here's the little fabric artwork I hung outside last summer. It is weathering.

Work on my Shakespeare piece continues in the studio. I think I might like the end product when I get there, but I have created a tedious project and the process isn't flowing. It moves slowly and makes me procrastinate. A lot of stops and starts and slow, fiddly stitching. Not humming like I like. This is something to remember. Process is as important as product.

You tread upon my patience.

-- William Shakespeare, "Henry IV"