Monday, May 30, 2011

More cutting things up

When I cut up the little piece the other day, I said I had a bigger piece in mind to cut into soon and I did it. This was from about the same period as the small piece and also architectural. I remember being very excited about my idea of domes and spires.

I wonder, now, what I was thinking. It is a little embarrassing to show this.Those odd little domes, plunked so unceremoniously on the striped ground. Allllll that speckly purple sky. It never worked, but it took me awhile to understand while I was still enthralled with my idea. I find this happens to me. Does it happen to you? I get so excited about some new idea that I am temporarily blind to the reality of whether or not it is actually working.

I think the fact that it never seemed like something I wanted to show or even try to sell was my own instinct two steps ahead of my literal, conscious mind. So, take a last look. It is no more.

I cut out four six-inch squares. Each, I think, is vastly better than the original. (click to see larger)

Jackie asked if the tiny pieces I cut from the smaller quilt were cut into four equal sized pieces with no waste. They were equal sized pieces, but there was waste. Same with these. I liked the idea of cutting equal sized pieces, though they wouldn't have to be, but I had to move my frame around quite a lot to find good compositions. With this second cutting I ended up with a lot of waste, including most of the purple sky. I may use that for a small project I have in mind.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fabric find

I noticed there was an estate sale up the hill from us today, so I stopped by to see if there was anything interesting. I found this fabric in a box of fabrics. Most of the fabrics in the box were old cotton calicoes, of no interest to me, but I thought this was very charming. It is a heavy jacquard weave, two sided. There is a little more than two yards. It looks black and white in the photo and, indeed, when I first picked it up I thought it was black and white, but when I got it into the sunlight I could see that the dark color is a very dark blue. For $1 I couldn't resist it. I think I will make a cushion cover for my old wicker rocker that I brought from our old house porch. I plan to put it into the studio we plan to build.
I love these kinds of designs. I wonder where this fabric came from. The bird design reminds me of birds I have seen in weavings in Ecuador, like the ones below, but I have also seen similar birds in Aboriginal designs from Australia and weavings from Nepal and embroideries from Eastern Europe. Isn't it interesting how similar a lot of ethnic designs from around the world are?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cutting things up

At our last High Fiber Diet meeting Mary, one of our members, showed some small pieces that she had created by cutting up a larger piece of work that never really thrilled her. The resulting small pieces were very nice. I have been thinking about this since then. This is not the kind of "cutting up" where you take an old disappointing piece and whack it into placemats or drink coasters. Rather, it is an exercise in isolating the best parts and pulling them out.

I decided to start small. I had this 12" square piece that was vaguely architectural, but it never really quite worked for me.

I made a little posterboard frame to move around and see if I could identify several small compositions that I liked.

In the end I came up with four tiny compositions. Each is 3.5" square. I like them mounted on a piece of black mat board.

I like the resulting pieces better than the original. Less is more. Very often I think work is made bigger than it should be and the composition becomes much stronger when the artist focuses in on details.

Now I am considering taking my scissors to a larger piece.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Stitches

Have you seen e-magazines? Quilting Arts Magazine now has their own online publication called In Stitches and I have an article in the latest issue. You can download it here.

This is the cover page and that is my little quilt called "Las Palomas" on the right side of the page.

I have to confess I did not "get" what advantages there could possibly be to an online magazine over a print publication. They are no less expensive than a printed version—more expensive actually. Then I saw this magazine.

This is where my article begins. The orange icon near the title will bring up a printable version, so you can print it out if you want to. At the bottom the arrow near my name brings up my photo, bio and a short interview.

See the zoom icon at the bottom right? This allows you to zoom into any part of the quilt and see every detail, right down to the individual stitch, in high resolution detail. It is almost better quality than seeing it in person.

Most of the articles also include videos that  accompany the articles. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I made a video for my article. My son-in-law shot it. We were trying hard to get good closeup shots of stitching and processes, but it did not turn out well and couldn't be used. Too much movement in the camera and some focus problems. Obviously we need to practice that part of it a little more.

I am in excellent company. The issue also contains articles by Judy Coates Perez and Maria Elkins, among other wonderful artists. I am really excited about this fairly new magazine! It's a whole new way to publish.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More yard art

I have become a little obsessed with yard art. We now have this big, wild yard and I love the idea of wandering through the weeds and discovering stuff. You've seen my lights. One of these days I should probably take photos and give you the grand tour of my outdoor tchotchkes.

About 5 years ago we were selling our own garden art at a garden show and the vendor next to us was selling concrete spheres, decorated in a variety of ways.I really loved these big orbs for some reason and have wanted to make one since then. Several months ago I picked up a round, glass globe from a light fixture at the Goodwill Store and last week when Ray was mixing concrete for another project, I asked him to fill the glass globe with concrete.

Yesterday it seemed well hardened and time to break the glass off. I didn't know how that would go. Sofia was looking forward to seeing it. She told her mother that today she was going to be breaking glass at Grandma's, which alarmed my daughter!  I assured her that Sofia would be observing, not participating.

I put the ball into a plastic bag and then set it into a plastic container. You can see the tip of Sofia's shoe as she waited for the first blow.

I wondered if the glass would stick to the concrete. We hadn't used anything inside the glass to keep it from sticking, but it wasn't necessary. The glass was easily knocked off the concrete ball.

Here it is with all the glass removed. I like it as it is, even with the imperfections, but I have an idea for adding to it. I'll post a photo when I'm done with it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tales from the Yard Sale

It seemed like a good idea a month ago when one of our neighbors stopped by the house and said he was organizing a neighborhood yard sale. "Sure" we said, "we'll participate." When Friday morning rolled around, the date of the yard sale, I did not have much organized for the sale, but we hauled what we had out to the front of the yard, near the road. Ray, it seemed, had scheduled (ahem) some meetings that day, so it fell to me to man the yard sale. Since it was a beautiful day, it was nice to ensconce myself in a comfy chair (back, right side of the photo) and read the new Smithsonian magazine from cover to cover while I waited for customers. My next door neighbor wandered out and was my best customer of the day. She bought some baby things for her new granddaughter. Customers were few and far between. I entertained myself by posting yard sale updates to Facebook. I considered taking a nap under a tree. Then the guy showed up.

An older gentleman, smartly dressed in khakis, hiking boots, a snappy brimmed hat and one of those vests with all the zippered pockets wandered into the yard. He observed every item in my offering and said he was sorry I had nothing he was looking for. "What are you looking for?" I asked, more out of boredom than genuine curiosity. He said he was a regular vendor at the Vancouver (WA.) Flea Market and explained that his usual source of merchandise was the contents of abandoned storage units that he bought at auction, sight unseen, but he added to this with yard sale purchases. "I sell anything, unless it is illegal or immoral." He said he sometimes found pornography in his storage unit purchases, but refused to sell that.

"You must find some interesting stuff in storage units" I commented, thinking of the potential for disgusting or gross stuff. "Yikes, what if you found a dead body?" I was thinking.

"Well," he replied, "my best find was a unit where I found, first a box of gold bullion, then a suitcase full of cash—$100,000.00." HELLO! Now he had my attention. He spun out his story.

Uncomfortable, and wondering about his liability, he called the police. They referred him to the FBI. He said the FBI did a little investigating and got back to him to tell him that the unit had been rented by a Pakistani who was in the country illegally and was bringing more illegal Pakistanis (terrorists??) into the country. When this Pakistani was discovered, he fled the country, leaving his stash in an abandoned storage unit in Beaverton, Oregon. The FBI agent told my storyteller that the cash was legally his, but warned that someone might be looking for it and could easily get his name from the auction records. My yard sale visitor told me his wife became convinced that they were going to be killed for this money and had a heart attack, which she narrowly survived. They sold their home and moved to an undisclosed location, still in fear for their lives—but here he was, perusing my yard sale, and continuing to stock his flea market table. I could see that he was checking out my reaction to his story, and he nodded, emphatically, a couple of times. "Enjoy the day..." he concluded, and wandered off up the street.

This story was the best thing I took away from my yard sale day. Sales were dismal. I took in less than $20. Do I believe the story? It doesn't matter, but for the record—maybe.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New art

My son-in-law loves to paint and is very good. This is not a painting, but a pastel drawing that he gave me for my birthday. I think it is wonderful. My daughter said he was nervous and unsure about giving it to me—wondering if I would like it. I know just how he felt. I am often unsure about giving my art as a gift to someone. You hope they will like it. You try to detach yourself enough that it won't feel like an insult if they politely thank you and then stick it in a closet never to be seen again.. But it feels bad anyway. Happily, I love this piece. I really love almost everything my son-in-law makes. I love the dark background behind those sunflowers. You can't tell how complex and and how beautiful the colors are because of the reflections in my photo. Sorry about that. But, trust me, it is good.

You might remember the wonderful painting that he made me for me birthday several years ago, of the Cuenca (Ecuador) market. I have had it hanging in our living room, near the front door. Lately I've been thinking it might look really great on the terra cotta colored wall in the dining room and the food/produce theme would fit right into that room. So when I finally got my new sunflowers framed I hung it where the painting had been and moved the painting to the dining room area. I like this change. It seems perfect, in fact.

I think I am a lucky person to have such a talented and generous son-in-law. If you'd like to see more of his work, check out his blog here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lilac Time

I think lilacs must have grown very well in Idaho. When I was a child they were in every yard and park in our town. They surrounded the playing field adjacent to my elementary school and I remember, in the spring, that I would meet my girlfriends near the lilacs at recess where we would scootch ourselves between the big bushes with fat branches of the fragrant flowers nodding overhead. We would close our eyes and inhale the perfume and giggle with the delight of it. I remember we had a way of folding one of the heart-shaped leaves around a finger in a way where you could blow into it and it made a whistling sound. I tried to conjure up how to do this awhile ago and found I no longer possess that skill.

One of my favorite things at our old house was the very old, and very large lilac bush just off the front porch. Unusually deep purple in color, the blooms were more fragrant than the lighter purple variety. (The white ones always smell the very best.) The old lilac was badly damaged in an ice storm a few years after we moved in and we were afraid it would not survive. Ray trimmed off the broken branches and it was a mutilated skeleton of its former self, but it did survive and looks better every year. I will miss that rugged old soldier that gave us such beauty every spring. I wonder how long it has been there. Perhaps since the house was built in 1914. I hope the new owners will love it as we have.

Today Ray went back to the house to mow the lawn and oversee some repairs that we are having done in anticipation of closing the sale of the house in a couple of weeks. The lilacs are blooming and he cut a bucketful to bring home, including some of my favorite deep purple blooms. The fragrance is intoxicating. Probably the last time we will enjoy these old-time treasures, at least until the lilacs we have planted here get a bit bigger. I hope we will have some of those deep purple ones.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MPS Quilt Show

Ray took this picture at the end of my talk and slideshow on Friday night. I was giving my blog a little plug. The evening started off poorly when we could not get the projector and laptop to work together. Isn't that just always what happens? Fortunately I had my tech support along with me—Ray—who got it figured out before time for the program to start. Everyone was in the lobby drinking wine and munching on fabulous hors d'œuvres and never knew there was a problem. It went well from there on. I showed a lot of my quilts, including the Twelve by Twelve quilts that are in the book. Had a good crowd and lots of interest.

On Saturday I went for the day and sat with my quilts. I sold and signed books.

It was great. I sold all the books I had with me and took orders for more. But best of all was seeing old friends and talking to people about my work and the book. So many people who had been at the talk the night before came by to tell me that they were inspired to try some small art quilts and/or to put together a challenge group like our 12 x 12 group. I planned to walk through the show and take some photos, but could barely get away from my table to quickly see the show, much less take pictures. It was a beautiful show and set up so well for viewing.

I sat at my table and people-watched for a lot of the day. These three ladies swept through the show in their fancy hats, heavily embellished jackets and long skirts made from old silk ties. I asked them if they were part of a group or were selling something. The answer was, "No. We are just three friends who like to go to quilt shows so we made special outfits to wear when we go out." Well, OK! I had seen them at the Clark County Quilt show that Gerrie and I went to awhile back. Here they are greeting a child dressed like a princess. Kindred spirits.

The gorgeous orchid on my table was a gift for me to take home, along with a nice gift certificate. I am so proud of the guild that I helped to start so many years ago. A great group of smart, talented and competent women. Their show was flawless and it was really an honor to be part of it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inadvertent goodness

Yesterday I said that probably no one was interested in my philosophy of life and art. Lisa left a comment and said some of us are. So I'll share one of my philosophies. That is, some of the best things in life (and art) happen by accident. It behooves us to pay attention or we miss out.

Small happy accident: I put those glass pebbles into the candle cups with my little solar lights (see here) for the purpose of holding the lights in place. What I didn't anticipate was how lovely they would look at night with those little lights shining through them.

Bigger happy accidents have shaped my life. A chance encounter in an airport with an old friend of my mother sent me to inquire about a job she knew about. I got the job, which meant I moved to a new city where I met my future husband, and my future life. Marriage, children, grandchildren, good life, wonderful friends—all the result of a chance encounter. I'm thankful that I paid attention.

An old friend from high school and college, with political ambitions when I first knew him, is now, not a powerful politician, but a powerful force for good. The birth of a daughter with a disability led him to a career, using his education and intelligence and heart, advocating and innovating for the rights of disabled people. I'm sure he never planned that he would have a disabled child, but he was surely paying attention to what it meant when he did.

We once knew a guy who had his whole life planned out. On paper. In writing. Go to this college. Graduate with honors, Marry a specific kind of person. Have these children. Start in this kind of a job. Advance in this many years to this kind of job, and so on. We were all young at the time and I was impressed by his long-term plan, but it didn't include any happy accidents—or unhappy accidents. We've lost track of him, but last we heard he was divorced and a little off-course from the master plan.

So, this is it. A little of my philosophy. Embrace the happy accidents, the chance encounters the unexpected, inadvertent consequences. Pay attention. For me it has made all the difference.

"To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work."
~ Mary Oliver ~

Monday, May 09, 2011

Body of work

I have been working on a PowerPoint slide show . This screen shot is only part of it. I was asked to be the featured artist this year for the Metropolitan Patchwork Society Quilt Show. I was one of the organizing members of this Portland area guild about 11 years ago. Working with a group of women to bring this guild into existence was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. The guild has thrived. It has introduced quilting to many women in this area and particularly nurtures and provides resources for beginning quilters. I have not been active in the group for several years, but I am really pleased to have been asked to be featured in this year's show. I will be giving a talk, with the slideshow on Friday evening. The show is all day on Saturday.

I pondered how to approach my talk. In the end I decided to say very little and just show a lot of my quilts. I think that's what people really want—certainly not my philosophy of life and art! But having made that decision, I still wondered what the best way of organizing the pictures would be. Chronological was my first thought, but as I began to sort through what I have, I began to see subject categories, so I have organized them that way. The slides above are about half of the show. You can see nature, beetles, still life, birds, people. The Twelve by Twelve quilts and project will comprise most of the second half. 

These are, by no means, all of the pieces I have made over the years. I am pretty surprised, however, at how many there are.

Putting together this visual collection is something I probably should have done a long time ago. I'm glad I had this incentive to finally do it. Many of these quilts are no longer in my possession, so it is interesting to see what the progression and sidetracks and thinking has been and how they all fit together. I never much thought of myself as working in "series" but it looks like I have.

For more information about the show, go to the MPS web site.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The house that gives you presents

When we first started working at our current house we started finding things. Our first "presents" weren't very impressive. Then a year or so later the creek yielded some real finds. Last summer Ray dug up a very cute little vintage metal firetruck toy. Today Ray was out pulling weeds and this bracelet came up out of the ground with a big weed. Seriously. Heavy, silver. Made in Italy.

Thank you, house. It just fits. How did you know that silver bracelets are one of my favorite things?

The irony is that last summer Ray lost his watch out in the yard. We have searched high and low and in the creek and cannot find it. I think the house is holding onto it to present to a future owner.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Back to work

It has been such a nice, normal week for a change—well, disregarding amazing news events, that is. We even had one gloriously sunny, spring-like day this week, though it is raining again. Last week when the group was at the beach we went to Center Diamond Quilt Shop in Cannon Beach. I really love that shop. I had nothing in mind when I walked in, but I started noticing the greatest bright stripes among the hundreds of bolts of fabrics. I always love stripes and I've had a yen to make a stripey quilt for my baby grandson. I made a quilt for Sofia's first birthday and Marco will be a year old in August. Time to get started. Before I knew it I was buying a bunch of striped fabrics and I could see the quilt in my head. I think it will take awhile to make. I am making a lot of little blocks.

These fabrics and colors really make me happy!
I am so looking forward to some nice weather and being outside. I wonder if it will ever happen. Sigh. Remember last spring I made some lanterns to hang outside using solar lights? They worked out so great and we really enjoyed them. Since then I have been quite in love with those little outdoor solar lights. Yesterday I was at Grocery Outlet, which is a wierd, funky store that seems to carry grocery items that are overstocks from other stores or maybe items that will be discontinued. I don't know where it comes from, but you often find really interesting wines, cheeses and other things. The thing is you usually will never see the same things again. It is always different. Yesterday they had the little outdoor solar lights for $1.99 each and I knew that I could do something with them for that price. I bought three. This is what they look like:

We have three candle holders outside that stake into the ground and hold a glass cup for a votive candle. I decided to figure out a way to use the solar lights in those. The post pops right off the light, leaving the solar collector and the light. The problem was how to get it to stand up inside the candle cup. There is a small appendage on the bottom of the light that fits inside the post. I searched around and found my container of glass pebbles that you use in vases of flowers. I held the light in place in the cup and distributed a handful around it and it holds it level pretty nicely. Ray had suggested I put a piece of foam in the bottom of the cup and push the light into that. That would have worked too, but the glass pebbles look much prettier in my opinion.

Here's how it looks outdoor. The stainless steel light even matches the holder.

Now, if it will ever stop raining I think three of these will look pretty great out front, along with the lanterns from last year. It was just starting to rain again when I took this picture. It's so dark (mid-afternoon) in my house right now that it lights inside. Pretty, huh?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Space Between

Today I am the featured artist on the Dinner at Eight web site. They are featuring the artists whose work was selected for "The Space Between" exhibit. I am happy to be among those artists! The interview is here.

This is my finished piece, called "Between Mother and Child."  It really was excruciating to make! I learned a lot and know things I would do differently, but I am very gratified that it was accepted for the show.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On our way home...

We stopped at Camp 18 for lunch. It is a restaurant and logging museum, dedicated to the history of logging in Oregon. It is one of those very touristy places that you have to love for the kitsch alone, though the food was only very average. We enjoyed the ambiance of elk antler chandeliers and big slices of huge trees used as tabletops and old logging equipment and, oh my!—the chainsaw art!

Beth grew up on the coast and has a special fondness for loggers!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Seen by the Sea

I know. It has been a week since I posted. A busy week. We got an offer on our house. I will tell you more later, but we countered, they accepted and now it is up to the lenders and inspectors and all those folks to make it happen—or not. Not counting chickens before they hatch, but feeling hopeful.

Wednesday our STASH group went to the beach for our annual retreat. We arrived in a storm and left in sunshine. In between we ate and stitched and laughed a lot. We shopped, we watched quilting videos, we played games, we wined and cheesed and walked on the prom and the beach and slept with sounds of the ocean and storm mingling with our dreams. Rest, renewal and friends who mean so much to me.

Seen from the front window shortly after arrival. Windy, rainy.

The next morning. The storm had littered the beach with broken shells and all manner of stuff, both natural and decidedly unnatural.

The Seaside "Prom". Ocean just to the left.

Gale and Gerrie (barely visible) at the breakfast table. Ocean reflected in the window.

Browsing in Seaside. Amazing candy selection above and eye candy below.

Fabulous garden gate.

The photographer (that would be me) reflected.

After the storm passed. View from the kitchen window.

Ahhh. What a lovely couple of days.