Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kim Family Auction

I am donating a piece of artwork to the Kim family benefit art + craft auction. This auction was set up by my friend, Gerrie Congdon, and her two daughters who are friends of Kati Kim.
You will remember that the Kim family, from San Francisco was lost in a remote region of Oregon early in December. Kati and her two small daughters were found after many days. Her husband, James, had left the car to seek help. Sadly, he succumbed to the elements. This story was a focus of national attention and especially here in Oregon where many of us are familiar with the remote areas where they were searching. The search was long and expensive for the family and the results, at first, miraculous with the discovery of mother and children, alive and reasonably well, and ultimately tragic when James was found.
This is the piece that I am offering for auction.
Bidding will start on January 3. Click on the Kim Family Auction graphic at the top of this entry to see all the other artwork and crafts that are being auctioned, as well as details on how to bid on items.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Counting down, looking back

One of my goals for 2006 was to spend more time making art. Above you will see an overview of most of the work I made this year. I am pleased, overall, with what I accomplished. I hope the coming year will allow me to do even more. It has been exciting to sell some pieces. It has been exciting to exhibit some work in both familiar and in new venues. It has been satisfying to try new ideas and experiment with new techniques. I am happy to have been able to donate work that has raised money for worthwhile causes. It has been wonderful to meet and get to know new friends who do the same kind of work, and to appreciate more than ever, the friends who have been here for so long.
Personally, it has been a year of sadness and of great joy. It has been a year of putting priorities in place and making hard decisions. And, jeez!—it was the year I turned 60, which was something that was quite breathtaking and sobering and a lot to think about. I have come to the end of this year quite happy and looking forward to really wonderful things in the coming year.
I hope you've all had a good year as well.
P.S. The composite, above, is of most of the quilts I made this year. It is not one big quilt! Seems like that isn't immediately clear. (see the first comment)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Day after Christmas

I have spent the morning reading the manual for my new camera*, then taking a few pictures, including the bird out in the yard. This picture was taken from inside my nice, warm house and illustrates my favorite thing about my new camera—its 12x optical zoom.

I have come to love taking pictures since I got my first digital camera. It is so immediate and so easy to discard the bad ones. When I was shooting pictures on film I was stingy about the film and the cost of processing the pictures. Shooting digitally has opened up the possibilities for experimenting and taking pictures of small, insignificant things and erasing them if they are boring or no good.

Maybe this new camera will make me a better photographer. One can only hope . . .

*in case you wanted to know—it's a Canon PowerShot S3 IS

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Merry Little Christmas

It really is the small things that matter when it comes down to it. My daughter gave me a bag of mandarin oranges (or are they clementines?—I'm never sure of the difference) and they are so beautiful and the smell and taste simply wonderful. When I was very young and our family attended Christmas Eve services at the Methodist Church in Idaho, at the end of the service as we left the church each child was given an orange, wrapped in tissue. I always associate the sharp, spicy smell of oranges with Christmas. And, of course, there was always a small orange in the toe of our Christmas sock. And the fact that my daughter is right here, mere blocks away, to share her oranges with me is the best gift of all.

I have boxes of Christmas decorations and "stuff" that I did not put out this year and have a smaller than usual Christmas tree, but it is enough. I have made no cookies, no candy (that was last year). We don't need it. I will make a delicious dinner, however, and we will eat well on Christmas day, surrounded by family and friends. It will be a merry little Christmas.

I love the NPR program "Fresh Air". Yesterday Terry Gross interviewed Hugh Martin, who wrote the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung by Judy Garland in the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis." In the song, part of the lyric goes, "someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow..." He said that Frank Sinatra wanted to record the song for a Christmas album and thought those lyrics were a "downer" and asked Martin to rewrite them. The new lyrics are, "through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. Hang a shiny star upon the highest bough..." Hugh Martin and Terry Gross both agreed they like the original lyrics best. So do I. Nothing wrong with a little muddling through.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Perhaps I have been here alone too long. Ray has been gone for nearly 3 weeks, now and I can hardly wait for him to get home on Saturday. Anyway, possibly I am conjuring up company, because I have been seeing faces.

This was the first one I noticed. It was peering out at me across the top of the toaster. On closer inspection I could see he (she?) didn't look any too happy.

Then I started seeing these guys all over the house. My, what large noses you have.

And this poor fellow seems to have a black eye. I think he might be chewing gum.

This morning it seemed my waterpik was laughing at me. Am I just being paranoid?

today's Christmas song I thought this was hilarious when I was a kid.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beautiful foggy morning

It is hard to make myself get out and walk on cold, foggy mornings. It helps to know that Beth is waiting for me. It works both ways. If she didn't know I would be waiting she would probably be tempted to stay in bed herself. The thing is, it is so cold when you get out of the car you just think you are going to freeze, but once you start moving, you warm right up and the cold air really feels good. Better than rain, for sure. There was a little frost on things this morning and the pink light of the sunrise was so delicate and beautiful this morning it almost makes up for the cold.

Now that I am pretty much ready for Christmas and I had my little "no Christmas music and stuff" break yesterday I have a nice feeling of well-being and Christmas spirit and am enjoying a little eggnog in my coffee.

I am seeing a lot of creches on blogs this week. Martha Stewart had a beautiful one on her show yesterday that she made while she was in prison—such an overachiever! This one is from Ecuador. The material is called masapan or bread dough. I think it is quite charming because it depicts Joseph and Mary as Panama hat makers. (Panama hats are made in Ecuador. See more about it here.) The donkey is quite amusing. The cow is just plain wierd.

Here's another of my eclectic Christmas selections. Lots of versions of this song. I like Willie.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Something besides Christmas

I am kind of tired of Christmas already. I just want it to get here. I think we spend far too long preparing for Christmas. It puts a lot of pressure on us all, I think. Probably in a world with less commercial investment in the holiday, we would start our Christmas preparations about now. No, this isn't an anti-Christmas rant. I love Christmas. I just think it would be a little more special if we didn't have to look at it all for so long. So tomorrow I am taking a little break. No Christmas music, no shopping, no wrapping. I'm changing the subject.

At our High Fiber Diet meeting last week we had a little fabric exchange. Everybody brought something from their stash that they were feeling tired of or didn't need. I got this great Kona Bay print. Just about a yard. I can understand why someone was finding it hard to use. The color seems a little raw to me, but I think I can see some good potential there.

The yellow doesn't have to stay yellow. I could overdye the whole thing, or I could paint it. Of course any color I put over it, unless I use a very opaque paint, which I don't think I'd do, will be affected by the yellow, so it will require a little planning. Just for fun, I played with a couple of ideas in Photoshop. I think both have possibilities.

There is something very satisfying about recoloring a commercial fabric. This one was almost like coloring in a coloring book.

Boy, that is a bold print, isn't it? Wonder what I'll do with it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winter's Night

I have been offline for about a day due to a big storm here in the Northwest. Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I went to have a pedicure and as we were waiting for polish to dry the power failed and everything went dark—street lights, traffic signals, the entire area. The nail place is, normally, about 5 minutes from my house, but it took me nearly 45 minutes to get home. There was a fierce wind, many people leaving work and power lines and large trees down in places. Traffic crept through the signal-less intersections. My usual "shortcut" was blocked by a large, downed tree whose roots had literally popped out of the ground. It has been raining steadily for nearly a week and the ground is saturated. When strong winds come, the trees can't hold onto the muddy earth. This is a combination we dread here.
I rounded up candles and an oil lamp and flashlight when I got home and fixed myself a hearty dinner of olives, cheese and crackers and Irish whiskey. (That encompasses all the food groups—right?) After puttering around uselessly for several hours I finally went to bed, using my little battery booklight to read for awhile. I woke up much later when the power came back on. It is still out in many parts of the city. I am lucky. No internet this morning, but it is finally back and the wind has died, the sun is shining and city crews are out sawing up fallen trees and cleaning up the debris. Life returns to normal. There are still 3 climbers missing on Mt. Hood and I thought of them last night as the storm raged.

I had our small quilt group, STASH, for our annual Christmas party Tuesday night and we had such a great time we forgot to take any pictures. You can read more about it on Gerrie's blog, plus her trip to the emergency room the next day. (No, it wasn't my cooking that sent her!) I finally got some Christmas decorating done in time for our party. I added the picture, above, of the Christmas tree especially for Ray, who is off working in the Virgin Islands for several weeks. See the nice tree Andy and I picked out? Looks good, eh? And I know you all will want to see a closeup of the angel. No, I didn't make this angel, but I just adore her. I found her years ago in a shop in Ashland, where we lived at the time. I have not seen as colorful or "folk-y" an angel before or since.

I always hang my red and gold feathered star quilt over the fireplace at Christmas and put out my collection of terra cotta ornaments on the mantel. I've never been one for color-coordinated, designer Christmas decor. I like the old, well-loved stuff.

And speaking of old and well-loved. I came across one of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs on Youtube. It speaks to the season. Sarah McLachlin recorded a lovely version of this song, but I still prefer Gordon Lightfoot's version. Enjoy

Sunday, December 10, 2006

To embellish or not

About a month ago there was a discussion on the QuiltArt list about embellishments on quilts, such as beads and sparkly fibers. I rashly asserted that I didn't think such "stuff" usually worked. People took exception and sent me links to embellished quilts in an effort to sway my opinion. Some of the embellishments I saw really did work, in my opinion, surprising me. Others simply proved to me my original point—that good design doesn't need a lot of gooping up. (And gooping up won't save a poor design.) In the end I resolved to challenge myself to make a small embellished piece, try to make it "work" and report back on the experience. I also challenged the embellishers to try making a piece that relied only on the color, design and fabric choices to provide the kind of visual impact they were relying on sparkly stuff to provide. I haven't heard if anyone took me up on that challenge, but I did follow through with mine.

First I have to tell you that I had early plans to combine the embellishment challenge with my recent shy hat lady piece, but when it came down to it I was not happy with the idea of adding anything more to that piece. It just didn't seem right. So I designed a piece with a subject that seemed more likely to provide embellishment opportunities. She is a saint or an angel, sort of loosely based on the idea of old religious icons that traditionally used gold leaf and other precious materials. The first photo shows St. Pearly before embellishment. The second photo is the finished piece, embellished with some of my collection of shell buttons, silver and gold beads and a bit of silk embroidery on her collar.

What I learned:

  • When I started adding the buttons and beads I found that the soft, subtle face faded away to blandness. I could see that the face needed to be stronger, with great contrasts to hold its own against the embellishment. I actually completely redid the face for the embellished version.
  • Adding embellishments, especially reflective ones, brings all focus to the foreground and tends to flatten the image. See how that halo lays back behind the head in the first photo? Now, when you look at the second with all the buttons and beads, everything appears to be sitting on the same plane. Good to know and explains to me why pieces I have seen that have little beads sewn on a night sky to represent stars never look right. The "stars" are sitting right in the foreground and they always will. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of and use to advantage or not.
  • I tried using just a few buttons and a few beads in the halo and found that they looked half-hearted and tentative. If you are using embellishments, I think you need to be bold with them.
  • I tried adding more beads—to her hair, and to the background. No way could I make that work. It just became schizophrenic with competing foci.
I gained a greater appreciation for nicely embellished quilts and no more appreciation for thoughtlessly embellished quilts. I am not convinced of any real need for embellishments of this kind and still believe that, in most cases, the addition of beads and crystals and sparkly stuff serves mostly to cheapen the appearance of a piece and moves it into the realm of decoration and away from acceptance as art. Granted my embellished piece is more interesting than the same piece without the beads and buttons, but if I had not intended to embellish those areas I would have used more interesting patterns and color in the same areas and probably liked that approach as well if not better. I don't expect this to be the beginning of my embellishing phase, but I will never say "never" and you might see some "stuff" show up on my quilts from time to time!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Coos Bay

Gerrie and I drove down to Coos Bay, Oregon yesterday to attend the opening reception for two art quilt exhibits at the Coos Art Museum. Coos Bay is on the Central Oregon coast and is a less charming town than many coastal towns. More of a working class town that smells of sawdust and fish, it nevertheless, has a wonderful little art museum housed in an Art Deco building that was once a Federal building. For whatever reasons, they have hosted some of the best art/quilt/fiber exhibits of the past few years.

The current big show is called "Speaking in Cloth: 6 Voices". You can see some examples of the work on their web site and read more about it on Gerrie's blog. I will be talking more about it later.

The other show is "Fine Focus" which is a show of small format art quilts. I have a piece in this show, so I was looking forward to seeing it in the context of the entire exhibit. This show has been traveling and will continue to travel for nearly another year. The Coos Bay venue is the only West Coast venue for the show. It will go from there to the Quilt Festival in Chicago and then to a gallery in Old Forge, New York. I was very pleased with how the show looked. There is some wonderful work in this show and I am proud to be a part of it. The Coos Art Museum did a wonderful job of showing it and I really loved that they placed my "Rice Bowl and Bird" at the far end of the long narrow gallery against a brick wall. My only slight disappointment was that when my piece was mounted on the cream colored backer, the bottom right corner was slightly scrunched, which you can see in the photo. Otherwise it looked really good. Good lighting makes a big difference!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Patchwork trees

I have barely done anything to acknowledge that Christmas is coming other than make the Christmas socks. I did remove the pumpkins from the front porch and hang a wreath, but inside there are no Christmas decorations. I need to get on the ball because my small quilt/art group, STASH (second Tuesday at somebody's house) is coming here for our annual holiday dinner next Tuesday. I want it to look festive.

I just pulled the boxes out of the attic and found these two patchwork trees back behind the boxes. I made these about 16 years ago when I had a quilt shop in Ashland, Oregon. They were part of my window decor one Christmas. Most of the stuff from that shop is long gone, but I kept these because I really thought they were kind of nifty. The tallest one is about 30" high. They are pieced (I hardly ever do that anymore!) and have a plain green back. There is a foamcore shape inside each one and a little stand that notches into the trunk so they stand on their own.

I think I need to find a good place for them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Shy girl in a fancy hat

So, before I get to the shy girl, are you ready for another Christmas song? And, by the way, I'm with Jane Ann all the way. (see yesterday's comments) I really, really hate those imbedded music videos and audios on blogs that start blasting away the second you open the blog. I like being able to just put the icon here. Take it or leave it. Not everyone likes the same music I like.
That said, this Christmas selection is, in my humble opinion, the hands-down winner for sheer joyful noise. I remember the Methodist choir of my youth giving it their all at Christmas Eve services (my parents sang in that choir) and by the time they got to the "And his name shall be call-ed WONDERFUL! COUNSELOR!..." you just wanted to stand up and cheer. (turn up your speakers for maximum enjoyment)

Now about the shy girl. This is the second of what may be a series of ladies in hats. You may remember the first one. This one is also a challenge to use that coppery painted fabric. Each member of our small group, STASH, has a piece of the fabric. I thought it would make a stunning bowler hat. I have to say I am especially fond of her scarf. I love my commercial prints.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Socks

Since I discovered the site I can share a favorite Christmas song off and on through the month. I hope you figured out yesterday that if you click on the icon you can play the song. Sometimes it takes a couple of clicks on the little arrow to get it to play

I do love the story of Good King Wenceslas and even more after discovering that he was a real person, who was made a Saint. The image of the King and his page trekking out through bitter weather to take food and wine and gifts to the poor is a beautiful thing.

Many years ago my mother-in-law made these needlepoint Christmas socks for my kids. Santa has been filling their socks every year they have been home ever since. This year we decided to give Santa a break and the five of us drew names and will fill the sock of the person whose name we drew.

I had this sock that my grandmother made for me eons ago. I think it was made from a kit. She made them for all her grandchildren. My mother kept it at her house for years and whenever we visited at Christmas it would be filled. It has been tucked away here in a drawer since Mom died.

Cayo and Ray did not have special Christmas socks, so I made these last week. This is a whole new Christmas tradition for Cayo. No filling of Christmas socks in Ecuador.

These last are plain old crew socks that I am taking to a Christmas party this afternoon at a friend's house. She suggested, instead of a hostess gift, guests might want to bring new socks that will be donated to a charity that feeds and assists homeless and hungry people. Isn't that a great idea?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"It's comin' on Christmas . . .

They're cuttin' down trees, they're puttin' up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace . . ."

I've had this Joni Mitchell song running through my head for days now. It's not, probably strictly speaking, a Christmas song, but it does capture a certain melancholy that I always feel, mixed with the cheer, this time of year. So beautiful.

All week it has been raining and gray and very cold here. Today the sun came out and with it, one of Portland's great gifts—the sight of Mt. Hood, swathed in fresh snow and shining in the sun. Driving around town today I kept seeing it, between buildings, through the trees, peeking over rooftops. Oh!—there it is again!

My destination was across the river at a shop my son-in-law and I call "the junky art store". We love the place. Tons of art supplies at discount prices. It's a jumble and you can't usually find exactly what you were looking for, but you always find something. It's in a part of town (SE Powell, for those of you who know Portland) where a certain kind of entrepeneurship thrives. Lots of Mom and Pop businesses run on a shoestring. If you're looking for Macy's or the Gap or Saks, you're on the wrong side of the river.

I really love this sign. Does it mean that you get an entire pair of shoes for the price of a single shoe? Such a deal.

And this sign has amused me for years. It was a hand-painted sign for a long time, then several years ago it was replaced with this more professional sign, but retained the quirky spelling. I am sympathetic, though. The "f" changes to a "v" when it becomes plural?—Where's the logic in that?
updated note: I just looked up "scarfs" in the dictionery and find that it is an acceptable plural along with "scarves". Who knew? Guess I'm not as smart as I thought.

Before I headed home I just had to stop for one more look at the mountain. You never know when you will see it again.