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Healing Art

Having two major life events in a span of six weeks can be taxing. My mother died and I had to crash her funeral the beginning of October. Short version: we didn’t like each other, she threatened my siblings with disinheritance if that talked to me, I had to subscribe to in order to find out she died.

Six weeks later, I made a spur of the moment decision to retire. I don’t regret that decision – I needed to get out of that job.

A few weeks after that, the anxiety set in. I started to see all that went wrong with my job and the enormity of it overwhelmed me. The anxiety was strong enough to cause anxiety pains. I still have the pains.

I’m applying for a grant. The only thing I want more than this grant is peace in the Middle East and we know I’m not going to get that. The grant requires that I submit a digital portfolio. I didn’t know that until this morning. The grant proposal is due by 5:00 PM MDT on May 1, 2016. It’s a drop dead deadline. Submitting at 5:01 PM MDT means I have to wait a year to apply again.

Suddenly, all my art looks like crap and I’m not sure I can make new pieces and get them dried, bisque fired, glazed and glaze fired in time. This requires major work to be done major fast. I’ve got a bisque firing scheduled for this Friday. I could push it back to Saturday or Sunday and then glaze like crazy all next week so I could glaze fire the following weekend. Fortunately, I’m Jewish so Easter isn’t a big celebration in my house. The need for world-class art to be done at warp speed is causing additional anxiety pains. I’m really getting tired of this pain in my abdomen.

I got out my sketch book, and behold! Three ideas came out of my pen. I know what kind of pieces I’m making – wall hangings. I know what the designs are – based on a scanning electronmicrograph of a single cell plant and a fern fossil. I know the shape and most of the texture. Haven’t figured out the glaze yet. The glaze is critical so I need to figure that out before I make the pieces – which need to be made today if I want to bisque fire them on Friday.

There’s less anxiety now that the ideas are formed, the rough sketches done, and I know that I’m not limited by size requirements.

Let the art experiments begin!

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Thread Addiction

Not every addiction needs a 12-step program. Thankfully, there is no program for my thread addiction. Once I got a sewing machine that made fancy stitches, I had to buy fancy threads. After that, I couldn’t sew anything without fancy threads and fancy stitches. Jim (DH) has the fanciest boxers in town. I use left over fabric, leg of this – leg of that. I use fancy threads and fancy stitches around the fly and the hems of the legs. Boxers should have bling, too.

After my 12-year-old serger developed an expensive problem, I bought a new serger – Brother 1034. I love this serger. No more Dreaded Bottom Looper Threading nightmare. Now that I have an easy to thread serger, I need fancy serger threads. There are two things this new serger does that are a bit of a surprise. If I want to change the thread in one of the loopers, I need to unthread the machine and rethread using the proper order: bottom looper, top looper, left needle, right needle. The other surprise is that I have to use the nets over the spools of thread or I cannot get the tension properly adjusted.

Superior Threads, has a Try Me Special – thread at an incredibly good price. The trade off is that Superior picks the colors. I bought Halo, Polyarn and ProLock  at Try Me prices. I bought a discontinued color of Poly Quilter.


Above are the Halo threads. They are designed for use with a serger or in the bobbin. The thread isn’t that thick and I think it might be possible to use them for the top thread of a sewing machine. Haven’t tried that yet. I like what happens when I use them in the serger. Using the closest stitch, I got good coverage and great sparkle.


Polyarn. It reminds me of wooly nylon, but it seems to be thinner and of better quality than wooly nylon. Although it’s a bit on the fuzzy side, it’s still fairly easy to thread into either looper.  With the closest stitch, I got great coverage.


Prolock 8,500 yard cone. Nice thread. But…. I can’t use it in both loopers because the cones are too big to fit side by side. Once I get about half of each cone used, I’ll be able to put one in each looper.


Poly Quilter discontinued color. Much to my surprise, I didn’t have a similar color in my thread stash. I haven’t had a chance to use this thread yet. I’m thinking I’m not going to be thrilled using it in the serger. Variegated threads tend to become rhythmic color blocks when used in a serger. I prefer to use variegated threads when I use the fancy stitches on my sewing machine.


I finally got the tension issues with free motion quilting resolved. I decided to try some of the placemats with serged edges. Above is the result using regular serger thread from JoAnn’s and using the closest stitch setting. I like using the new threads better. I’m getting better coverage although it can be interesting to balance the looper tension when I’ve got a different type of thread in each looper.

About a week ago, Jim was at the local ReStore and found two June Taylor wooden thread racks. He called to see if I wanted them; they were $6 each. YES!!! Then he asked if I was sure I had 120 spools of thread. I passed that count years ago. <G>


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Why Does Cleaning Leave A Mess Bigger Than The Original Mess?

My sewing room has needed a serious cleaning for years. January 2015, I sorted out all my leftover fabric. Part of a mess became 7 large plastic bins and I forgot how many bags of trash. Today’s effort was a continuation of getting stuff away from the closet so I could move the 7 large plastic bins of fabric out of the hall and into the closet in the sewing room. There’s a pain in my lower back indicating that I shouldn’t have moved all those bins. Too late. 

As I sorted through boxes of stuff that had blocked the closet doors, I found treasure. Some of the stuff in the boxes had come from my grandmother’s sewing supplies. We cleaned out her house in 1989 after she had a major stroke and spent the last six years of her life in a nursing home.  When I moved to New Mexico in 1999, I took the sewing supplies with me. 

I found a collection of serious needles I never knew my grandmother had. I’ve no idea what they are for, but I’m sure that I’ll need them someday and I’ve never seen anything like them in stores. I wonder if some of the needles are for making hats. My grandmother learned millenary  skills when she was in high school.


I found a box with 11 balls of incredibly thin ecru crochet thread. The thread came from France. I was saving it for a special project. I’ll keep saving it for the perfect project. I’m sure whoever gets my stuff when I die will love the wonderful crochet thread.

I found a spool of navy blue silk buttonhole twist. The price was painted onto the wooden spool: 25 cents. I’ve never seen buttonhole twist in any store. I’ll need the perfect project for the buttonhole twist. I’ve got some white fabric, a silk/bamboo blend, that I can dye. Navy blue thread, coral fabric? Peach fabric? Soft yellow fabric? Sage fabric? Use the buttonhole twist for fancy stitches on a blouse? Use the buttonhole twist for buttonholes on a blouse? The world will end if I don’t use the precious buttonhole twist properly. I’ll save it some more. 

For some reason, my grandmother had a lifetime and then some supply of hooks and eyes. I don’t use them, but I’m not going to throw them out. I might need them someday. She also had a supply of bobbins which may or may not fit my current sewing machine. As I unwound the thread, I wondered why I was doing that. The best  thing to do with those ancient plastic bobbins is throw them out. Plastic dries out and becomes brittle here in the desert and I have a good supply of new bobbins. 

Some of the stuff blocking the closet doors is from me. A length of off white raw silk that I had intended to use to make slacks. About a half mile of industrial strength Velcro. I’ll need that Velcro someday. Leftover fabric I bought when I moved here. The fabric came from a quilt shop that no longer exists. I loved the fabric in that store. Some of the leftover fabric I don’t recognize. I don’t remember buying it and I don’t remember using it for anything. Mauve denim? I look horrible in mauve – too much red in my hair. Why would I have mauve denim? Why would anyone have mauve denim? 

I found a collection of fabric paints from projects I did when I still lived in New York. To my extreme amazement, the paint is still liquid. This is first generation fabric paint. It makes the fabric stiff but only until about the 8th washing. Maybe I should give it to the ReStore. 

I still can’t walk around in my sewing room. There are boxes of stuff on the floor. Stuff I don’t recognize but I’m sure I’ll use. One huge bag contains an assortment of slippers my grandmother had either crocheted or knitted. Each Christmas, we would all get slippers. I can’t bring myself to use those slippers. If I use them, they will wear out and a piece of my grandmother will be gone forever.

Someday, my sewing room will be neat and organized. Today is not someday.