Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two tea cups

I have started putting some things together, using the tea cups I have been making. This is a very small piece. The piece itself is about 5" x 11.5" and mounted on a 9" x 12" board that I covered with black linen. For the background I used a piece of fabric that I painted to use in my next 12 x 12 work. This was leftover from that. It is difficult to see in this photo, but along the top edge there is a piece of copper wire that I hammered and then treated with vinegar to create a blue-green patina. I am working on a larger tea cup piece, which I will show you when it is finished. The simplicity of these pieces pleases me. Not sure where this is going, but I am enjoying making cups. I think I will try some different shapes. Also some other kinds of vessels—jars, bowls, pitchers.

Tomorrow our STASH group is taking a field trip out through the Columbia Gorge to the Maryhill Museum, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Columbia on the Washington side. It is a fascinating little museum with a very interesting history. I have been there several times, but I love it every time. I hope I can bring back some interesting photos to share.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hydrangeas and frog

More hydrangeas. This morning I was heading out to go take my friend Paula to lunch and at the last minute decided to cut some more of the hydrangeas and take them to her. As I bent over to cut a branch I was surprised to see this tiny frog sitting on one of the leaves. I knew if I ran inside for my camera he'd be gone by the time I got back, then I remembered my phone in my pocket and I got the picture. I hear frogs around our house all the time. Lots of them. But I almost never see one. This was such a pretty little thing and so tiny I almost thought it was a big bug of some kind at first. And, isn't this a great photo for having been taken by a phone camera? I am really impressed with the iPhone camera.

Hydrangea, the autumn palette

It was just a couple months ago that I wrote about the hydrangeas in our yard and showed you the brilliant, saturated colors of late summer. Now they are shifting to their autumn colors and I am smitten all over again. I cut these on Saturday and they stop me every time I walk through the living room and see them sitting there. The delicacy of that shading on each petal is artistry I aspire to. And the fact that each individual puff of blossoms develops its own little color scheme is genius. They really are my favorite flower, and those of you who commented on the earlier post about them being old-fashioned or "frumpy" flowers, well I think you are not looking at them the right way!

Hydrangeas dry beautifully and though the color changes some as they dry, they maintain a lot of beautiful, subtle color. One of the easiest ways to dry them is just to put them in water, as I have, upright in a vase and let the water slowly evaporate. The blossoms will also slowly dry. This works best when they are cut late in the season, like now, when the petals have become a bit leathery and less fragile than earlier in the season.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The object(s) #17 Old glass

My grandmother Hazle collected old bottles. She especially loved old medicine bottles that she found out in the desert or along stream banks or in the trash piles in deserted ghost towns. Some were the old kind that had turned purple in the sun. She usually wasn't looking for bottles when she found them. She was looking for gold. Grandma Hazle (that's the way she spelled her name) always carried a gold pan and a pick in the trunk of her car. She lived in gold country—Southern Oregon, on the California border—and she knew the history. And she knew there was more gold out there. And she knew that she was going to find it.

She was born in Condon, Oregon. Her mother had come to Oregon as a girl in the great migration, in a wagon on the Oregon Trail. Her father had come, with his brother, from France when they were orphaned children. They sailed on a ship, round the tip of South America, and landed in San Francisco to live with their spinster aunt. My great grandfather, as a young man, traveled to Oregon to homestead and meet his future wife. Years later, his brother disappeared in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Grandma Hazle was closer to her father than her mother and spent her childhood helping with farm chores and following her father around. A tomboy with a sense of adventure.

Hazle's first husband died from drinking tainted water, just a few months before their first child (my Uncle Bill) was born. She took her newborn baby to Seattle, knowing she would have to find a way to support him by herself and sought out an agency that placed domestic help. The woman who interviewed her was so impressed by her determination, and probably her desperate situation, that she hired her to be her own housekeeper and gave her the key to her home and sent her off to settle herself and her baby directly from the interview. Hazle never forgot this kindness and the trust she was given. My aunt Clio was named for this kind employer who became Grandma's closest friend. She soon met and then married my grandfather, Ernest. They had four more children, including my father, and endured the Great Depression, eking out a living in Montana and Wyoming, where Grandpa worked as a cowhand, a timber cutter and a deputy U.S. marshal. Eventually they found their way back to Oregon, where I visited them in the summers as a child.

After Grandpa died, Hazle, then in her '70s, married again. We all enjoyed her irrascible and opinionated husband, O.Z., even if he grumbled and complained about the state of the world and "young people". His heart softened the minute Grandma walked into the room. He adored her.

She outlived three husbands. On her 99th birthday she was still talking about finding that big vein of gold somewhere "out there in the Applegate." Over her many years of looking she did find gold. She had a small medicine bottle about half full of flakes and tiny nuggets, but she never found the big vein she was looking for. Toward the end, when she was very ill, I arrived at the hospital to visit and she awoke, smiling. She said she had just spent the morning riding horses through the mountains with her Papa. She said she had seen her mother, too, and had cried with happiness to see her again. She died just a couple months short of her 100th birthday and we all hoped she arrived in heaven with her gold pan under her arm. Each of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren took one or two of the bottles, that lined the windowsills of her house. I also took the green glass bottle stopper, etched by time and probably sand and dust.

On her 100th birthday her family gathered in Ashland where she lived. We had a party and shared our memories and funny Hazle stories (there are many) and took turns taking our pictures sitting on the bench in Lithia Park that we purchased in her memory. If you go to Ashland, you can sit on her bench and watch the swans in the pond. She would like that.

Hazle Henry, High School Graduation photo

The scary-looking platform

When I posted this photo yesterday a couple of commenters said it looked like we were perched on chairs on top of a table and it looked rather precarious! Really, it wasn't, though, looking at the picture I can see that it appears that we were higher off the ground than we actually were. The event was at the Expo Center and this platform is one that they use to create a stage or raised dais by pushing a bunch of them together. This was only one section, but very sturdy and there are stairs at the far end, even though it was only about 18" high. I assure you it felt very secure and at no time did I feel in danger of toppling off, but I appreciate your concern!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding one's voice as an artist

That was the subject of a panel discussion I took part in this morning at the Northwest Quilt Expo. The panel was sponsored by Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). Here we are:

That is Laura Jaszkowski and Georgia French, our Oregon SAQA reps, on the left. They led the discussion. The panel consisted of Jill Hoddick, a beginning art quilter, myself and Gerrie Congdon. Gerrie was a substitute for Jean Wells Keenan, who was ill and could not make it. I think the discussion went pretty well.

Jill talked about how, as a newcomer to art quilting, she is eagerly taking in as much information, classes, books, magazines, shows as she can find. I agreed that was important as you begin your journey and how I had done the same thing for several years, but that I believe there comes a time when you process all that input and then go into your studio and listen to your own voice and begin to do your own work. Gerrie agreed and commented on how seductive those classes can be for someone as social and people-oriented as she is and that working on your own can sometimes feel a little isolating.

Boy, I look serious here, don't I? Maybe I was trying to answer the question about how we keep our work "fresh." Gerrie said she keeps hers in the refrigerator. Yuk, yuk! Then, more seriously, showed the sketchbook project that she is working on and she feels keeps her exploring new ideas. I had to admit that it was not something I ever think about. "Keeping it fresh" feels a little like marketing lingo to me—not really one of my strong points. Jill said she hadn't been at it long enough to have had an opportunity to be un-fresh.

At one point we were asked to define the difference between traditional and art quilts. I hate that question. It really gets people who make traditional quilts riled up. Many believe all quilts are art. Well, they can be depending on how you define art, so it is a no-win proposition if you disagree. I paraphrased Robert Shaw, the quilt historian, and defined art quilts as functionally as I could, as works of art, made using quilting techniques and materials and made with the intention of them being viewed and judged as art, not as functional objects. Jill and Gerrie had similar thoughts. I probably confused a few people when I went on to try to explain that I use the word "art" simply as a category of work, not as a value judgement on the quality of the work and that not everything that is beautiful is art, nor is all art beautiful.

We were asked what our personal goals were for the next five years regarding our art. I got a laugh when I said mine was to get organized. But that really is what I hope to do. In the coming months I will be sharing the plans we are finalizing for the small studio we will build for me to work in. I'd like to be able to work more consistently, enter a few more shows and build a coherent body of work that would be worthy of a show.

It was an interesting experience and worthwhile, just in making me think about some of these things and how I would answer these questions. I'm never very comfortable in front of a crowd, but it was OK. Exhausting though. Being "on" saps my energy. I came home and quilted all afternoon. All by myself. Ahhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I bought a couple of pomegranates this week. I have always been fascinated with them, first because they seem sort of rare and only show up in our stores here from time to time. The second is because they are so beautiful and their structure is so different from any other fruit, although I did try a fruit in South America that had similarities. (more on that, further on) The inside looks like jewels and each little separate jewel is like a burst of sweet/tart flavor with a chewy, nutty little seed in the center. I have never seen them growing, but serendipitously, Dijanne Cevaal has a photo of a green, growing pomegranate on her blog today. Dijanne is a fabric artist who uses a pomegranite motif in many of her works. Here is one of her marvelous pomegranates.

The problem, for me, with pomegranates is that they are so tedious to eat—picking each little morsel out of the pithy membrane, which, if you happen to eat some of, tastes pretty bad. But I learned something this week. I Googled "how to eat a pomegranate" on a hunch that there might be some trick to it. There is. You cut the end off, score it down the sides and soak for about 5 minutes in a bowl of water, which seems to kind of soften the thickest parts of that membrane. Then you pull it into pieces and work the edible parts out under the water in the bowl. The little bits of pale yellow membrane float to the top and the red fruit sinks to the bottom.  Skim the inedible stuff off the top of the water, then drain the fruit in a sieve. Voila! So, why did it take me this long to learn that? Did everyone else already know how to do this?

Now, about that South American fruit—granadilla. It resembles a pomegranate in that the outer skin is quite firm and the inside consists of individual little seeds, surrounded by clear, juicy flesh. As beautiful as the inside of a pomegranate is, the inside of a granadilla is ugly. It is gray and mucous-like in texture. But if you can get past that, it is really delicious. In looking for those links, I just discovered that granadilla is the same thing as passion fruit. Look at me. I've learned two things this week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tea cups

I have been making more little tea cups. I have six now and plan to make more. I love the shape. And it is quite nice to make them one at a time, choosing the fabric, cutting, shading, ironing, fusing. I am digging through old boxes of fabrics and surprising myself by what I choose. I am not trying to duplicate the exact patterns that authentic Chinese cups would have, but rather to capture the kind of spirit they might have. Hard to explain. It is a "know it when I see it" kind of thing. Here are the new ones.

The third one is my favorite. I don' know why. I began to think about what kind of background any or all of these might work on. I dug through the stash and nothing spoke to me, so I painted some fabric this afternoon. It is what you see behind each of these. Nothing is final. Nothing is sewn, nor is it decided, but I do think I like the fabric I painted.

Here are all the cups I have made so far.

 I am not finished making cups. Or bowls. Maybe other kinds of vessels. I think this is something I can explore for awhile. Joanne asked, "100 bowls?" Maybe. Is there a significance to 100 bowls? I feel like that should mean something.

One thing I should mention. I was using Crayola crayons for the shading. June warned that they might not be as permanent as they should be for this. I told you she was smart. I have gone back to using my paints and watercolor crayons and pastels. I know they can be made pretty stable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mermaid Tales

Or maybe mermaid tails!

My granddaughter (3.5 years old) wants to be a mermaid for Halloween, so she and I went shopping last week. That is part of our booty above. She proved herself to be related to me by getting all swoon-y and breathless about the beeee-utiful shiny and sparkly fabrics. Fun shopping trip!

I was glad to find the McCall's pattern for a mermaid costume. I had been pondering the problem of making a mermaid tail that a child could walk in. This is a great solution and much simpler than the crazy ideas I was coming up with. It is really just a skirt that comes to a point in front and back, with a flouncy insert on each side that  looks like tail fins. I bought dark green, stretchy swimsuit fabric for the tail, which you don't see in the photo, and the sparkly green for the fins. The swim fabric is pretty shiny too, and very stretchy, which I thought would make walking easier. I think it will have the proper "fishy" look. I don't love everything about the pattern, so I am taking liberties. I think that peplum, ruffle thing around the waist is wierd, so I am reducing it to a little fin-like ruffle over each hip instead. And the thing on the head doesn't cut it. I am thinking of a starfish and a shell on a barrett, or something along those lines.

I cut it all out this afternoon and discovered that the bodice pattern had bust darts. For a 3-year-old?? I eliminated them. I am making the bodice out of stretchy swimsuit fabric too, so I see no need for darts of any kind. The instructions also specify lining the bodice. Not doing that either. I also envision those cap sleeves more drapey and wispy and less stiff and pokey-uppy.

I am having fun. I loved making Halloween costumes for my own kids and now I get to do it again. I made some pretty good costumes when my kids were little. I never cared much for the cheapo store-bought costumes and tried to make costumes that were cute and age-appropriate and not scary.

Here's what the mermaid tail looked like at the end of today.

SAQA Auction

Today is the first day of the Studio Art Quilts Associates Auction of 12" square art quilts. This is a good opportunity to own a small piece of art and to help support an excellent organization. The pieces are put up for bid starting with the first group today. The way the auction works is explained well here. My donation for the auction is in the 3rd group and will go up for bid starting on October 4th.

Here are some of my favorites from the group that went up today: If I could afford the highest price I would buy any of these right now!

This one from my friend, and fellow "twelve," Kristin LaFlamme.

Terri Mangat

B.J. Parady

Bodil Gardner — oops, too late! This one has already sold

Check out the auction here. Look at all the great quilts on all the pages! Here's my piece that will be available starting on October 4.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Object #17 Hammock

At our old house there were two huge trees out in back that were the perfect distance apart for hanging a hammock between them. At the new house there are many, many trees, but no two have that perfect spacing for a hammock. And we have to have a hammock. We do.

Do you know the special joys of a hammock? Not one of those flat, flippy things with the rods across the ends. I'm talking about a simple affair—a length of sturdy fabric, preferable woven so that the warp threads can be braided into a sturdy rope at each end. Climb into one of these and you are in a cocoon. Add a small pillow, a slight breeze, a cool drink, a good book and you are in heaven.

As our yard progressed we pondered the hammock problem. We could have gotten one of those metal hammock stands, but there is something kind of goofy and, well, unnatural about those things. One day, several weeks ago Ray had to cut down a small tree. The next morning I saw the nice, straight trunk, stripped of all of its limbs, laying out by the creek and Ray digging a hole. I read his mind. I knew just where this was headed. He stood the tree trunk upright in the hole and poured concrete around it. I held it while he straightened it and braced it to keep it upright until the concrete cured. Now the hammock hangs next to the creek. That log section sits nearby to hold one's drink and book. The bare tree trunk looks a little stark, but we planted a clematis next to it and are encouraging it to wind its way up the bare trunk. Perhaps it needs a little art as well. I'm thinking...

This is one of several hammocks we bought in Ecuador. One still hangs at the old house. The photo only hints at how colorful and beautiful they are. Normally, in Ecuador they are hung between the pillars that support the porches on their houses. You buy them in the markets or at the source—the famous craft market in Otavalo. They are very inexpensive. That's where we have got them, along with rugs, wall hangings, clothes, ponchos, bags and textiles of all kinds.

Below is a favorite Ecuador photo—my friend, Muriel, and me, relaxing in the hammocks at Hostal La Luna, near Otavalo. It is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places in the world, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Having taken a small break from art-making, I am easing my way back to work. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been working on my next Twelve by Twelve quilt. It will be done soon, which is more than a month before it is due. That is an indication of my eagerness I guess. My last ones were finished within the week before the deadline. I have been invited to submit work for a couple of shows and I am pondering ideas for those. I never seem to already have something perfect, besides both of these have very specific size requirements, so the work will be made especially for the show. Some artists I know hate working like that and will not make work to meet show specifications. They just do what they always do, then enter whatever works in the shows that come along with compatible themes and requirements. I actually rather enjoy the challenge of working to a theme and size.

Last week's bowl of apricots was a warm-up exercise, made for no particular purpose. I had lunch with my friend June and she asked what I was working on. I told her about that piece and whined a little that I am in some kind of rut, making bowls of this or that. She pointed out that they must mean something to me and perhaps I should explore the idea further, rather than fighting it. She is so smart. I do like bowls, cups, containers. I like real ones and I like the shapes and the metaphorical possibilities of full or empty vessels. Inspired by my little collection of Chinese tea cups, I started making cups today. Here's the beginning of one.

This is fused. At this point I use either paint or pastel pencil to add shading and dimension. The other day it occurred to me that, though I have a nice variety of media to use on my fabrics, I had not tried good old crayola crayons. I remember my Mom showing me how to color on fabrics, then put a piece of paper over the top and iron to set the color and melt the wax into the paper. They were amazingly colorful and permanent. I used them on tea towels or doll clothes or even tee shirts as a kid.

The crayons work great! I can't believe I haven't thought of this until now. The nice thing is that, unlike some of the things I have been using I don't have to spray or paint anything on them to make the color permanent.

Here's another.

I decided this one needed a little border like you sometimes see on these cups.

These are not attached to the backgrounds you see and look a little wonkier than they actually are because they are not laying perfectly flat. I think I'll make more of these, then decide how to put them all together.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer winding down

Cool nights and mornings and warm afternoons work perfectly for me. September in Portland is good. I spent some time sitting on the deck and stitching on my next Twelve by Twelve challenge quilt yesterday and wished I did that more often.

Unlike most of my work, this one has a lot of hand stitching on it. I decided to try something quite different from my usual style for this round. The color challenge of rust and patina colors spoke to me. I am not sure how well I will like it or if it will really be very exciting. Right now I am thinking it reminds me of things I have seen on the walls of hotel rooms. Nice hotels, but still ...

You can see a corner of our garden in the background. While the rest of the country was burning up, we have had the latest, coolest summer here. We have one tomato. The deer ate the rest. (The white cages went over the tomatoes after the deer were here.) We have a couple of teeny tiny eggplants. We have parsley and we have basil. And we have a mystery, volunteer vine with interesting pods on it. I hope aliens don't hatch out of them.

Today I took my Mother's Day gift, a giftcard for Powell's Books, and spent it. Powell's, as you may know, is the famous Portland Bookstore that occupies an entire city block and is several stories high, packed to the rafters with books. It is the seventh wonder of the modern world. It is also an expedition. Parking, alone, is tremendously challenging. I usually end up driving around and around the surrounding blocks, for 20 or 30 minutes waiting for someone to vacate a parking space. They do have the scariest parking garage in the world, but I did that once and that was enough for me. (For starters the up and down ramp is one and the same and only wide enough for one car—) Lucky for me, there is a Beaverton store. Much closer to where I live and it is on one level and has a huge, free parking lot. Smaller, of course than the seventh wonder, but still a respectably well-stocked and pleasant store. That's where I went today. I had nothing in mind when I went in, but came out with the Quilting Arts Gift issue, a novel from the sale table and a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Remember how I said I was trying to be a better writer. I thought Strunk and White might help. I have never owned a copy. Or so I thought. Ray came home this evening and pointed out that we have quite an old copy right under my nose in the bookcase. I think it was at his office for years and I didn't even know about it.

Now we have two—a 1979 edition and my new 2000 edition. You may be able to see that the old one cost $1.95. The one I bought today cost $9.95. I am reading it from cover to cover.

I also went to the library with Sofia today. We go every Tuesday and she gets 3 books. Today I got a book for myself too. It is The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I really liked her book, The Secret Life of Bees. So I am well-stocked with reading material.

I must mention the lovely comments that were left on my post about trying to do better. So thoughtful and eloquent. Leigh left a quote from Martin Luther King, that sums up, beautifully, what most of you wrote.
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
Here's to walking in the light.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trying to do better

It is a beautiful day here today on this anniversary day. It is, of course, the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It is also the anniversary of my blog, which was started late in the evening of September 11, 2005. It was unplanned, like so many things in my life that have turned out so much better than I ever dreamed.

I was up late, as I usually am. I am not a good sleeper. I was reading blogs and I wondered to myself, "how do you even set one of these things up?" Curious, I clicked the little Blogger icon up in the corner of the blog I was reading and got a page that said "create a blog." Like Alice, who, without hesitation, bit into the "eat me" cake, I clicked, and down the rabbit hole I went. I  followed each step until I got to the instruction to give the blog a name. I tried a few things like "journal", "my thoughts," etc.—I was not feeling very creative and of course everything I tried had been taken. Then I remembered that in my earliest days online, as a member of a quilting list serve, I had added the line "and sew it goes" to my signature. It wasn't taken and my blog had a name. I wish it were simply "and so it goes" without the cuteness of the "sew", but what's done is done and that was probably already been taken anyway.

I had no plans for this blog. I just started and wrote about whatever, always using photos because that is really what I like to see. The blog captured me. It made me want to do it well. I am still trying to do better. I am trying to be a better writer and to take better photos. I'm like most of us, I think—always trying to do better. Day by day, that's what we do.

Earlier this week I was with a group of women, and we were playing a sort of game where we answered a question determined by the color of the M&M we were holding. The idea was to learn more about each other. One group got the question, "what has made you grow as a person?" The first responder was silent for a long time, then she said, "loss." She went on to talk about how painful it is to lose our parents, friends, jobs, health, money, plans. Loss seems to be a condition of our generation. You can become mired in grief, bitter and angry, or you can try to do better and discover ways to live with the loss and find deeper joy and meaning  in the present.

Where am I going with this? I was winding my way back to the subject of the anniversary of  9-11-01. Loss. Trying to do better. It has been nine years and many of our countrymen are still mired in anger and revenge —seeming, in fact, to be nurturing and growing their hatred and blame and spewing their poison on the airwaves and in the news . I am frustrated and sad and fearful about the ugly picture being painted of us, as a people, by these bitter and ignorant voices. We have lost more than the twin towers. We have lost trust. Aren't we more compassionate than this? I think most of us are. Can't we do better?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The object(s) #16 Chinese cups

These little Chinese restaurant tea cups are really evidence of some kind of nostalgia disorder that I think I must have. I buy them when I see them at yard sales or secondhand stores, not because I will ever drink tea from them, or find any practical use for them, but because they remind me of the Shanghai Restaurant in Pocatello where I grew up. Sadly, it is no longer there, but it was there throughout my childhood and probably for years before and after.

Bing Hong, the owner, was a tiny Chinese man, straight out of the movies and the restaurant was located in the oldest part of town, just up from the railroad tracks, in a slightly wobbly old Victorian brick building. The high-ceiling-ed dining room was dimly lit with red silk lanterns and the walls were hung with painted silk scrolls. As children we were taken there for special occasions. It was a real restaurant, as opposed to the A&W or Fred and Kelley's where you sat in your car and carhops delivered your food on a tray that clipped to the car window. The Shanghai was a little bit fancy. The food was exotic and delicious. I especially loved the little red-tinged medallions of cold pork that you dipped into fiery hot mustard, then into sesame seeds. And, of course the fortune cookies at the end of the meal. There were tablecloths and lovely china plates and bowls from China. Tea came in a little metal teapot. Even as children we drank the pale tea from those little porcelain cups. A couple of sugar cubes made it palatable and I felt quite worldly carefully sipping the syrupy blend.

Later, in High School, the Shanghai was a favorite place to go for dinner before the prom or the Christmas formal. I have a dreamy, unfocused memory of dozens of couples in frothy dresses and rented tuxedos perched on tiny chairs, sipping tea as Mr. Hong scurried from table to table. I knew one of Mr. Hong's nephews in High School. He worked in the kitchen at the restaurant and told me that Mr. Hong had brought many family members to Pocatello from China over the years and each got his start working at the restaurant. I don't know when the restaurant closed. Perhaps Mr. Hong died. I don't know. He always seemed old. I wonder what happened to the lanterns and the tea cups and the glass case, full of cigars, where you paid your bill. It was in a little entry area, next to an ancient pay phone. Easy to imagine that it is all still there, like it always was.

When did Chinese restaurants become so ordinary? When did you last hear anyone rave about the fabulous Chinese restaurant they just ate at? And when did they start serving tea in silly plastic tea cups?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Something new

I took a few weeks off from making any art and it was a nice break, but I was ready to get back to it last week. I showed you some leaves a couple days ago. This is where they ended up—backdrop for a bowl of apricots. All the fabrics for the bowl, apricots and leaves were patterned by rubbing over textured things and the rubbing plates I have been making. I made rubbing patterned background fabrics too, but they seemed so boring. Not enough pattern for me, so I dug into my stash of commercial batiks. This is a little 12" x 12" piece. I seem to have internalized that size. It just turned out that way.

I finished this and felt like I have gotten into a rut. So many pieces that are so similar and so similarly meaningless. Predictable. Dull. Decorative. I have been thinking about this and wondering where to go next. I felt a little better after I read the Robert Genn email newsletter this week. I'm not the only one who thinks about these things. I liked when he said,

"...there will always be believers in the difficult business of ...delivering life-enhancing objects of beauty and personal passion. Further, popular collectorship will continue to find a need for landscapes, figures, florals and portraits. And while there are plenty of seriously dark concerns out and about these days, there is not much wrong with the sunny side."

I do, pretty much, stay on that sunny side. Maybe that's where I belong. Maybe I just need to give it all some more thought. I am going to be part of a panel discussion later this month about "finding your voice." Ironic, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Cover

Here is the cover for the Twelve by Twelve book. The publication date is March 1, 2011. There is my  "Passion" Frida Kahlo quilt right there in the center, with my name next to it. The husband of one of the twelves asked why I was the only one to get my photo on the cover! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I know I have already said how entirely thrilled I am by this book, so I will just let it go at that. However I will mention that you can go to the Twelve by Twelve web site and sign up for our mailing list so you will know exactly when and how you can own one of these books!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Art in the Pearl

Art in the Pearl is the annual outdoor art festival in downtown Portland, held on Labor Day weekend every year. It is always a decision as to whether we want to fight the crowds to stroll through booths set up in the north park blocks or stay home where it is quiet and miss seeing the art. We usually opt to join the crowds. I really do love seeing all the creative talent and fun, silly and beautiful things for sale. I wish I had an unlimited budget for buying art—but I don't, so I mostly just enjoy seeing it. Here's a small taste.

these pieces were all made of strips of painted steel—love the colors
this is embroidery—one of only a few fiber artists

I loved the paintings by PM Shore of Portland scenes. I couldn't afford one of her originals, but I bought a small print of one her paintings. It is called "Mass Transit" and shows a MAX train crossing the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge. Part of Portland's West Hills are in the background. We live on the other side of that hill and rode MAX into the city today.

Ray asked one of the artists how business had been and he answered "good!" When I purchased the print above Ms. Shore told me she had just sold the original painting earlier in the afternoon. It made me feel good to know that the artists were making sales. Good for all of us, I think. And, as always, it was crowded. Hard to stroll leisurely, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds (thousands?) of people, strollers, wheelchairs and dogs. Honestly—why do people take their dogs? Oh yeah, now I remember,  it's Portland.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Summer food

I'll bet most people are like me and have some recipes that they only make in the summer and some they only make in the winter and quite a few that are year-round favorites. We like chili, especially my mother's recipe, but we only eat it in the fall and winter. An extra crisp fall day is usually when I think about making a pot of chili and that first pot of the season tastes soooo good! Likewise, there are summer recipes—mostly certain salads—that are only made during warm weather. Tabbouli is one.

We love it. It is so flavorful and refreshing on a warm day and goes wonderfully with grilled salmon, steak or chicken. I just made a batch for this evening. It needs to be made early and put in the fridge for several hours to let the flavors blend. We are grilling steaks and baking potatoes to go with it.

That's my recipe on that gross looking index card. It was cut from the back of a box of Ala bulgar in the early '80s. There are a lot of tabbouli recipes around, but in my opinion, this is the best! The odd thing is that if you buy a box of Ala bulgar these days it has a different recipe on the box. I've tried the new recipe—not as good as the old one. Nowadays I don't even use the Ala brand bulger. I like Bob's Red Mill brand better. It is a little firmer and tastes a little nuttier to me. Besides, Bob's Red Mill is a local business, is a fun place to visit and Bob seems like such a great guy. In honor of his 81st birthday this year, he gave the business to his employees. But I digress. Here's the recipe:

•     1 C bulgar, uncooked
•     2 C boilng water
•     ½ C vegetable oil
•     ½ C lemon juice
•     2 teaspoons salt
•     1 teaspoon pepper
•     ½  cup parsley, chopped
•     3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or 2 teaspoons dry mint, crumbled
•     1 bunch green onions & tops, finely chopped
•     2 tomatoes, diced

Pour boiling water over bulgar in a bowl. Let stand 1 hour. Drain well and return to bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Chill at least 2 hours. Serves 4-6  

I make it pretty much exactly as the recipe states, though I think I usually use more parsley than that, and, as you can see above, I am keeping the onions separate today. My daughter doesn't much like raw onions, so the rest of us will garnish our servings with the onion and she can eat hers onion-free. The parsley and fresh mint are from our garden. We usually have fresh tomatoes in the summer, but not yet this year. You can use dry mint if you don't have fresh, but it is not as good. We always like to have mint growing somewhere in the yard for mint juleps and tabbouli. It is easy to grow and can grow almost anywhere.

Labor Day weekend. I guess this is the official end to summer, but I'm hoping for a warm fall. We had such a late spring and cool summer. Maybe we can squeeze in a few more outdoor dinners and I can use up my package of bulgar on more tabbouli before chili season arrives.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Just because...

I was thinking about this and wanted to hear it again and when I did I wanted to share it. A gift from 1971.
 No "object" this week. A beautiful song will have to do.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Back to work

I have been focusing on other things (baby!) for a couple of months now, and taking a break from art making for the most part. My Twelve by Twelve pieces were an exception. But for the past couple of days I have been back in my studio and it is good to be back at it.

I am still working on rubbing plates for mark-making on fabric. Here is the one I made this week.

The thing that I have been thinking about these plates I am making is that you don't need to rub the entire design, so some of these can have multiple purposes. This one, by the way, is another scrap of mat board with hemp cord glued to it. I like the hemp because it is pretty firm and smooth and has only a slight texture of its own. It also has a bit of variety in its size, but not too much for my purposes. I glued it down with white tacky glue and when it had dried I brushed a mix of tacky glue, diluted with some water over the whole thing. Once dry it is pretty solid.

Here's what I was rubbing—just sections of the plate. See how that works?

I think I could use this plate to get patterning for feathers, or pine branches, but today I was making leaves.

After I determined that this was going to work I made a bunch more of these leaves and I have been fusing them all day today, along with other elements, for a small piece. I spent several hours this afternoon doing rubbings and painting on fabric to use for a background and it turned out just sad. Back to the drawing board and I think I have found a better solution for the background. More to come.

By the way, I'm glad so many of you got a laugh out of my altered "lorikeet" quilt picture. Much more fun to find the humor than to worry about a negative comment . And really, the comment didn't bother me. I don't think the commenter quite understood that the purpose of our Twelve by Twelve challenges is not so much to confirm as exactly as possible to the proposed color theme as it is to find an inspiration in the theme and use it to express our own take on it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lorikeet colors

Today was the reveal of the latest Twelve by Twelve colorplay challenge. The theme was "Lorikeet Colors" proposed by Brenda Smith of Australia, who has beautiful lorikeets actually flying around her yard! I think we all loved the cheery colors when we saw the photos of the lorikeets, then had a difficult time making such bold colors work.

My initial response was the use a small amount of the challenge colors along with a lot of neutrals. While I really am pleased with this piece as a good experiment, it doesn't really fulfill the challenge.

 So I made another one using much more of the bold color.

I called this one "Night Garden." When I posted them this morning I was undecided about which piece would be my official piece. I was actually leaning more toward the first one. But when I saw it along with everyone else's it just looked dead, so I am going with the second.

An anonymous commenter on the Twelve by Twelve blog told me my colours were all wrong. They are not lorikeet colors. The spelling of the word "colours" makes me think perhaps the commenter is an Australian who knows her (his?) lorikeets. The commenter may be talking about both my pieces, but I am thinking it is the first that just doesn't cut it. I made a slight adjustment to it with the magic of Photoshop and the help of one of Brenda's lorikeet photos. Maybe it will pass muster now!