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Drowning In The Desert

Wet. Wet. Wet. Wet.

We’re in what New Mexicans call Monsoon Season. We get roughly 6” of rain a year on average and most of the rain falls in July and August. It’s been raining at least once each day for more than a week. I have a load of pots that need to be fired, but I can’t fire them until it stops raining. Water and a hot kiln are a dangerous combination. Best case: the kiln gets damaged. Worst case: the kiln explodes.

I let the builder talk me into accepting vinyl windows when we had our house built 16 years ago. I should not have done that. We now have 4 windows leaking. Jim has tried caulk, but the windows still leak. Now, we have to find a contractor and we’re probably going to have to replace the windows. If so, they won’t be vinyl windows.

A portion of our roof needs to be replaced. It had ceramic tile. It’s going to have metal roofing. I’m only making this repair once.

When it rains, flying ants (no, they are not termites – we checked) swarm. They picked the vent for the stove as a good place to swarm and it was raining flying ants for a day. Jim sprayed the vent with insecticide, taped a plastic bag over the opening in the vent, while I vacuumed up the falling ants as fast as they fell. We’ve had no problem since.

I finished the shorts. Here’s the fix on the seam that is on the outside rather than on the inside. By the time I realized I had made a mistake, it was too late to rip out the leg seams or the back center seam. Design begins when problems arise. I’m a bit disappointed in the fabric; it’s much more lightweight than I anticipated. Still, they are cool and comfortable.

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I started an embroidery project. After reading suggestions from other fiber artists, I decided to put my anger into art. Not having a transfer pencil, I had to get creative about getting the lettering onto fabric. I typed out what I wanted and printed it. Then, I put a piece of water soluble stabilizer over the paper and traced the printing onto the stabilizer using a Sharpie. Then, I basted the stabilizer to the fabric.

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I ordered my new glasses on Wednesday and they won’t be ready for a week or so. My vision has changed since last year and I’m having a terrible time seeing up close for detailed work. Can’t wait to get the new specs.

I’m still working on critter photographs.

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Quail nest near our back yard, and we get to watch the “thumbs,” juvenile quail, grow. We call them thumbs because when they are very young, they look like thumbs with feet. The thumbs in these two photos are the equivalent of teenagers.

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“All the good parts are under here.”

This isn’t a chipmunk, although it’s the same size. It’s a ground squirrel. It looks like a tiny prairie dog, behaves like a squirrel, and is fun to photograph.

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“If I look real cute, maybe the human will put out more corn.”

Critter 7-16-17

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If you wait long enough, critters will pose.

Creosote Sunrise 7-18-17

Sunrise in New Mexico is either boring or SPECTACULAR! Here’s a boring one so I decided to photograph sunrise through the creosote bushes.

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This is what I woke up to this morning.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been creating in the past week.

Looking for a unique gift? My website with an online store is here.

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Some of my earrings are now in my etsy shop

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You can find the listing for these earrings here.

blue heart 3-5-17 cropped

These earrings can be found here.

Larimar 3-9-17 cropped

These earrings can be found here.

cloissone 2 3-5-17 maybe smaller

These earrings can be found here.

crystal rondell 2 3-5-17 cropped 2

These earrings can be found here.

pink cube 3 3-5-17 cropped

These earrings can be found here.

I’ll be posting a few pieces in my shop each day. You can see the shop here.

If you have suggestions to make my shop more attractive, or advice on how to attract more viewers, please let me know. Many thanks.

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Of Quilts and Art and Freedom

Assorted Parts of a Non-Integrated Whole.

That’s what I’ve named this quilt. That’s also what bipolar disorder feels like at times. At least it feels that way for me. Bipolar disorder, like an mental illness, is not the same for each person.

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It’s been ages since I hand quilted, but this quilt wouldn’t look good with free-motion quilting. I used a variegated metallic thread for quilting the little shodow leaves. and a thick variegated purple thread for around the big leaves.

I grabbed a piece of fabric that fit for the back and never realized that when I hang the quilt on the clothesline, the light makes the backing shine through. Inside the house, the quilt doesn’t look as if it were suffering from a bad dye job.

All I have left to do with this quilt is to attach a sleeve and a label.

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I wanted different embellishments for each leaf. For this one, I unthreaded sequins from a string of sequins and attached them with beads.

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I wanted a leaf to show depression. At first, I thought that I had picked the wrong fabric. Then I thought about how I feel when I’m depressed. There’s darkness and dullness but there’s also goofiness.

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When I’m  above center – what a psychologist would call manic – the excess energy sometimes spills over into places it shouldn’t

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Full blown, get out of my way, a hurricane is roaring through, manic event. Everything is out of control although there can be a few quiet spots. Medicated, my manic events usually involve cooking. When I did a ride along with a police officer a couple years ago, I was having a manic event. I handed the officer 6 dozen home made cookies and said, “This is for you.”  During another manic event, I had to buy yarn – at least it was on sale – to make a crocheted bedspread. I’m still working on the bedspread. TV writers like to portray bipolar people as spendthrifts. Some are. I’m extremely careful and the credit card bill is paid in full each month.

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This is the dangerous one. I withdraw, and put up barriers – some physical, some emotional – to keep people away. I know it’s harmful for me to isolate, but many times, I just don’t want to be around anyone. Introverted below center, extroverted to the power of 5  when I’m above center.

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For the quilted leaves, I hand drew each one. All of the leaves are a bit different because in nature, all of the leaves are a bit different. I used a variegated metallic thread. I like what I got, but metallic thread is a pain in the tush to use for hand quilting. Tangles. Snarls. Metallic stripping off from the thread. Breakage. Tying several knots in the end of the thread so when I pull it through the backing of the quilt, it doesn’t come out the front of the quilt.

I chose to use gingko leaves because gingko is an ancient tree. It’s in the same phylum as pine trees and it’s the only tree in that phylum that has leaves. The gingko doesn’t really fit in, but there is a place for it. I don’t really fit in, but there is a place for me.

I had problems embellishing this quilt because my beads kept hiding. I’d know that I had gotten out a container of a particular, special bead, but the container would disappear. I’ve been considering getting a tackle box to hold all the beads. This one is a dandy. Now, I can have all of my beads together. I’ve still got a small, shoebox size box full of watch maker tins for seed beads.

Now for the freedom part. I watched the Youtube video of Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globe awards and thought about progress. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger sang about unions, the dust bowl, war and other social issues. Both were blacklisted in the 1950’s. They were considered Communists because of their views. If you sang from your heart, you didn’t work.

The Smother’s Brothers had a comedy variety show in the 1960’s. They had an anti war routine, and the show was cancelled. If you spoke from your heart, you didn’t work. Many years later, the brothers received an award for speaking out.

The Dixie Chicks spoke out agains war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They got hate mail. They refused to back down. They got larger audiences and wrote a song about what they call The Controversy – Not Ready To Make Nice. I’m not ready to make nice. I’m not ready to back down.

I wrote a blog post about the anger and disbelief after a misogynous, arrogant, bigoted narcissist won – sort of, the people voted for Hillary – the presidential election. Almost as soon as I published that blog post, I got an e-mail from a former friend saying that my political views are a function of bipolar disorder. Imagine holding so tightly to a point of view that any dissenting voice can only come from mental illness.

Continuing the tradition, Meryl Streep spoke out so clearly no one could misinterpret her words. She spoke out against mocking people who have disabilities. She spoke out against hypocrisy in government. Her courage is remarkable and inspiring.

I speak out with my art. If I want my work juried into a show, I can’t submit the emotional art. Shows are for pretty. I know this because I have submitted some of my emotional art – and it got turned down. All of my pretty work was accepted.

I remember a poster from the 1960’s: You have not converted a man just because you have silenced him.

I am not silent. I don’t care if I’m the only one speaking. I’m out of the closet and I’m staying out of the closet.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. You can check out her blog and the blogs of some incredibly talented artists here.

 

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Turning The Tumbnail Quilt Into A Final Quilt

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This is the thumbnail quilt with which I started. My idea was to portray what bipolar disorder feels like. The ups. The downs. The mixed episodes – where there’s both manic and depressive. Feeling fine and snarling at Jim. It’s quite the adventure.

I’ve started on the next/final version of the quilt. I basted 2″ from each edge so I’d be sure to have enough fabric to frame the design and still be able to attach binding. Then, I redid my sketches of gingko leaves in an effort to come up with something a bit more realistic. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was with the thumbnail quilt.

I cut out leaves, placed them on the fabric, and used embroidery floss to appliqué the leaves onto the fabric. I used beads and embroidery floss in an attempt to show a different aspect of bipolar disorder in each leaf. I’m not done yet, but here’s what I have so far.

Version 2

I hung the unfinished quilt top on the clothes line in order to take photos.

Individual leaves that have been embellished:

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I leave it to you to decide what emotions and moods are portrayed in each leaf.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what some talented artists have been up to.

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Playing With A Canon

I belong to the Digital Photography School page on Facebook. Lots of great information on that page. One person posted about a photography exercise. Find an inanimate object and take 25 photos of the object from an assortment of angles. So I did.

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Oops. If I turn off automatic focus, the camera will not focus automatically. I had turned off the auto focus in order to do some night photography.

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I had gone to a quilt shop yesterday and fat quarters were on sale. It would have been rude not to buy any of the on sale fat quarters. Buy 4, and the 5th one is free. So, above is my inanimate object. img_5576

I tried really, really hard to buy fabrics in light and dark values rather than medium values – a quest in which I failed really, really badly. Sigh.

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It’s amazing how different something looks when photographed from a different angle.

A couple nights before Christmas, I went downtown to do some night photography. I had read an article from Digital Photography School about painting with light. Basically, put the camera on a tripod, use a 30-second shutter speed, move the camera in a circle. I didn’t feel like dragging around a  tripod, so I improvised. I used manual focus, a 2-second shutter speed, and moved the camera in partial ellipse rather than in a straight line.

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All the above photos are of the same tree.

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I bought a collection of star filters. These make points of light come out of any light source. Almost any. Little twinkling lights don’t make stars. I have a 4, 6 and 8 point filters. I used the 6 point filter for this expedition.

img_5396Getting up really close to the twinkle lights allowed for a subtle star to form. There were twinkle lights strung on a Mexican palm tree. This is a close up of the trunk of the palm.

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I think this was the best shot of the night. It’s the door to a gallery that sells home decor items. version-2-1Just because. I don’t even remember what this store sold. I just wanted to play with the lights and the trees.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what some other talented artists have been doing.

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Another Thumbnail Quilt

I’ve been working on another thumbnail quilt. Originally, the piece was to have two appliqués and then I’d fold the fabric in half and stuff a piece of batting between the two layers. I wanted to see not just what the appliqués looked like, but also to figure out how I want to quilt it.

The first draft of the thumbnail quilt:

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Like many of my pieces, this will eventually be an autobiographical piece. As I played with the appliqué and beading, I thought about bipolar disorder and how my brain is a whole lot different from the usual brain. My brain has a mind of its own. Moods frequently have nothing to do with how I feel or what is happening around me. When I’m above center, I’m loud, unrestrained, and I feel as if a hurricane blew in when I enter a room. When I’m below center, I want to be a hermit. I withdraw. I pretend I don’t hear people so I don’t have to respond to them. My intention was to show both above and below center in a quilt.

But then I got to thinking…… What if I tried to show not just the extremes, but the places between center and each extreme. What would those places look like?

I decided I didn’t want to fold the fabric in half. I unfolded and added two more leaves.

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I took out the veins for one leaf, and put subdued beads and veins in the other leaf. I don’t usually use black thread for quilting, but I like how it looked and I couldn’t find another color that I liked as well.

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I needed some quilting to fill in around some of the leaves so I used a template for a smaller leaf. I’m not sure if I like it. I had intended the appliqué leaves to be gingko leaves, but that’s one leaf that I have trouble drawing. I chose a gingko leaf because gingko’s are considered to be one of the oldest species of trees. I’m not sure how that relates to bipolar disorder. I haven’t decided if I like the ambiguous shapes. I’m not sure this quilt says what I want it to say.

As for the Tree of Life quilt, I was astounded by the variety of responses. People saw everything from a tree of life to sad and depressed. Through that, I learned that art speaks to people on a deep, inner level. Whether you see what I saw or not, you do see what you need to see in any given piece.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here and with Busy Hands Quilts here. Stop by and see what’s new with all the great artists who link with her.

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What Do You See Here?

Frequently, I don’t understand what is going on inside of me until whatever it is comes out in art. A few months back, I started playing with thumbnail quilts to try out some new-to-me techniques. From there, I decided I wanted to make a Tree of Life quilt. I used water color pencils,  paint sticks, and assorted threads. I’ve been working on this quilt – which is actually a study for the final quilt – on and off for a few months. Yesterday, I was working on the veins in the leaves and suddenly realized I needed to put something of me into the quilt.

I know what I’m trying to say with this quilt, but I don’t know if I’m saying it. Please look at the photos (this is still a work in progress) and let me know what it is you see in the quilt.

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Yes, I need to make myself a design board so I can take photos easier. It’s on the list of things to do. I also need to figure out how I want to quilt this piece. Quilting will be done by machine, but I haven’t decided what the quilting will look like.

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Leaves done with paint sticks. I like the effect, but the oil in the paint stick tends to bleed and the paints are NEVER absolutely set. I ironed these. Twice. I waited several weeks. I still got paint on my hands while doing the embroidery.

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I used watercolor pencils for these leaves. I like the effect, but I don’t like all the uncontrolled bleeding. For the final quilt, I’m going to be using a sheer fabric and making appliquéd leaves.

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This is what came out of my head yesterday.

So… what do you see when you look at the quilt? Many thanks.

I’m linking up with Nina Marie. See what she’s been up to and check out the others who link with her blog. There are some wonderful inspirations there. Click here.

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Still Working on Photos

I may be overthinking things a bit. I love how leaves change color, but leaves turning isn’t a big show in the desert. I took the photos below on December 8, 2016. I had to go to class for my final critique and I park my car about a quarter mile from where my class is. I’m a frugal woman and I’m not about to pay $100 for a parking pass I’ll only use one or two days a week. Plus, I’d have to park farther away if I parked on campus. I pulled into a spot next to these trees. I didn’t have the Canon with me, so in desperation, I pulled out the iPhone and shot the photos below. Didn’t do any thinking, composing, or focusing. Just shot.

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I love working with and wearing Swarovski crystals. I don’t love photographing them. It’s hard to get all of the earrings in focus and harder to get accurate colors on the crystals.

The moon below is a gentle, golden color and the star is pretty much the color in the photo.

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The golden bead at the bottom is a more subtle color that what shows in the photo.

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This one is pretty close on the purple. It’s a pale color, but no amount of editing was going to result in dead on accurate color.

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This one is pretty accurate.

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The blue beads are a more subtle shade.

For the moment, this is as good as it gets. I love Swarovski crystals for the way they sparkle when light hits them. It’s that sparkle that makes them so hard to photograph.

I spent part of the week sewing a blouse from a rayon knit with four-way stretch. I’ve decided I don’t like making clothes from rayon knit. The fabric is so stretchy that it stretches itself out of shape while sewing. Plus, the pattern made a blouse that looked good on the pattern envelop but looked hideous on me.

I’ve got a cotton knit with two-way stretch that I really like. It’s white with zebras. I can’t find a pattern for something that I think would look good with that print. I know there’s a pajama pattern that would work, and it’s a pattern I’ve used before. Anyone remember where I put the pattern? The photo on the front of the pattern envelop is…. stupid and insulting. Dumb poses for the women wearing the garments. But, this pattern does make a nice, comfy, practical nightgown.  You know you’ve been married a long time when you want a practical nightgown. It’s been 44.5 years.

The zebra fabric will sit until I can figure out something to make out of it.

I’m linking with NinaMarie here. Lots of good stuff on her blog and lots of good blogs liked to her blog.

Yes, the earrings are for sale. $30.00 USD includes postage to anywhere in the US.

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I Will Learn How To Take Great Photos

I’ve been working on taking better photos of my work. Here’s some of the progression from shots yesterday and today.

First attempt:

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I used a piece of linen for the background, which takes away from the earrings. Because I was so close to the earrings, I couldn’t get the depth of field right so there’s blur. I was also having problems with the white balance.

Second attempt:

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I moved the piece of linen back and hung the earrings on a rod. Better, but not great.

Third attempt:

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I put a piece of foil behind the earrings, hung them from a rod, and put a small light beneath and slightly behind the earrings. Better, but still not great.

Fourth attempt:

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I moved the foil to about 10″ behind the stand. I had a small light below and a bit behind the earrings. This time, I put the camera on a tripod and used a 2 second self timer so I wouldn’t be holding the camera when the shutter opened.

I’m still not thrilled, but I am getting better. There are still blurry beads.

The earring making frenzy started on Tuesday. I wanted earrings to go with my blouse that features pink flamingos. So I made these:

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Yesterday, I had planned on doing some sewing until I saw that I had neglected to put the beads away and I had containers of beads on my cutting table. So I decided to make earrings rather than sew. The other three pair of earrings are what I made yesterday.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what she was up to this week and take a look at some of the other blogs liked to hers. There’s some great art in there.

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Thanksgiving and Art Therapy

There’s a reason it’s called Art Therapy. Art keeps me sane. Art gives me a place to go where it’s calm, safe, and I can be me.

Used to be, I’d go into a deep depression and have nightmares almost nightly from the middle of November through January 2. The depression and nightmares was caused by Holiday Hell with either my family or the in-laws. Both featured screaming and fighting. One featured food that was only edible the year I had the flu and was too sick to care. The other featured hatred hurled at me and it wasn’t a holiday unless someone, usually me, ended up crying at the dinner table. After all the warm family time, we’d get to spend three hours driving through a swamp on unplowed roads. Almost always, it was snowing and we’d fight to keep from being mesmerized by the falling snow.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve had to suffer through holiday hell. Growing up, if it was a holiday, I had the flu. This year, I had…. I’m not sure what. I got a flu shot in August. I felt dizzy, tired, and toast made me queasy. It’s been about 25 years since I got sick for a holiday. I thought I was over this crap. I guess not.

And so I went into the sewing room. I think I’ve been retired long enough now that I can post photos of the lingerie I sewed. I never wanted to be standing in front of a jury and wondering how many jurors had seen my blog and if they were paying attention to what I was saying or if they were wondering what my underwear looked like.

A couple weeks ago, I ordered some rayon/spandex knit. Sewing on stretchy fabrics is challenging. I took a camisole that fit me well and drafted a pattern.

First draft of the camisole:

I put a bias binding made from the rayon knit around the neck. This isn’t easy. I had binding stretching out, neck line stretching out, binding slipping away faster than I could pin it, much swearing and gnashing of teeth. A friend asked if using cotton binding was a possibility. Deciding I could not wrestle with stretchy fabric again, I used a cotton binding. Although I did shorten the camisole so that there was room for a lace band on the bottom, I didn’t shorten it enough. That’s what I thought until I wore the camisole and realized the longer length meant I could get it tucked into my slacks and not worry about it working it’s way out.

I bought a panty pattern online, and love how this pattern fits.

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This pattern has three pieces for the front and three pieces for the back. Lots of room for experimenting. I used stretchy lace for the two side pieces. That’s some of my silk thread making the fancy stitches that hold down the serged seam.

Today, I made the second draft of the camisole. I haven’t worn it yet, so I don’t know if I’ve worked out all of the problems.

After watching a Youtube video, I decided to try something different for the bias binding. This time, I used cotton throughout.

The matching panties.

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Now that I’m no longer standing in front of a jury, I can play with wild hair dye. img_4964

I was hoping for flaming Chinese red, but the store didn’t have any in stock. I settled for a darker red. I like it. A lot. This is a temporary dye. When it washes out, I’ll try out either purple or jade. The previous color was blue. Taking a decent selfie isn’t easy.

I’m linking with NinaMarie here.

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Dissent, Disrespect, Pettiness and Meanness

My last post contained my feelings about the election. While I didn’t expect anyone to throw me a party, I didn’t expect what did happen.

I used to have a friend who holds opposing political views. When she sent me politics filled emails, I ignored them. She’s entitled to her opinions and I’m entitled to decline to be drawn into an argument.

Comments about my blog posts have to be moderated by me prior to publication. Up until this past week, I’ve approved every comment. The comment my former friend made was knee jerk and insulting. While I was deciding whether I wanted to approve the comment, she sent me an email saying that she and her husband never wanted to see us again, I should only write about my art, and the only reason I posted that blog entry was because I was having a manic or depressive event.

You won’t see her comments because I won’t approve them. She is entitled to her opinions. She has a right to express her opinions. She does not have the right to tell me – or anyone else – that my political views are a function of bipolar disorder.

It’s not necessary for my friends to agree with me for a friendship to continue. Some years back, I supported one candidate and a good friend supported the opponent. My friend, who is still a close friend, gently suggested I reexamine what each candidate had said. Eventually, the candidate I supported lost the primary and the candidate my friend supported, and for whom I voted, won the election. Civil, respectful disagreement.

Saying my political views are a function of bipolar disorder is not civil or respectful. It’s disgusting. I’m struggling to let go of the hurt, but I’m not sure this is something I’ll ever be able to forgive. The friendship is dead; and, at least for now, I am incapable of wanting to revive it.

A couple nights ago, the cast of the show Hamilton stood on stage following the performance and made a polite, respectful request that diversity be respected and accepted. The president elect, who is making it remarkably hard for me to have any respect for him, demanded an apology. Why? Why is disagreement, when presented in a polite, respectful manner, wrong?

This venomous divisiveness scares me. We live in a large, and very small world. A comment made now, is heard around the world in a matter of minutes. How will leaders of the Arab nations respond to the hatred towards Muslims that Trump is making? How will leaders of Latin American countries respond to the viciousness and false accusations Trump hurls towards Latino immigrants? Because of NAFTA, several United States companies have manufacturing plants in Mexico. How will the president of Mexico respond to Trump’s insistence that Mexican immigrants are criminals merely because they were born in Mexico?

We live in a large, and very small world. Effective leaders long ago learned the importance of being able to play nicely with other leaders.

I fear the world events to come.

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Post Election Misery

I’m still sick about the election. How could any right thinking person vote for a misogynous, arrogant, ass-grabbing bully? The man is a walking sex crime. Now, he’s appointed a nazi sympathizer for his chief of staff. I think I now know how decent people in Germany felt after the elections in 1936. I’m afraid I will soon know how Jews in Germany felt in 1936.

A friend who’s family are all naturalized US citizens is afraid. Afraid because the friend is a person of color. This family includes cancer researchers, a doctor and a lawyer. These are the people you want living next door.

Although I miss helping clients, I’m not going to miss not being present when walking into a courtroom means crap is about to be heaped upon legal permanent residents for no reason other than they haven’t spent years and years and thousands and thousands of dollars to become US citizens. I have no problem with convicted sex offenders and convicted  drug dealers being deported. I have a huge problem with labeling any person in the US who is not a US citizen undesirable.

I take a writing class at New Mexico State University. There’s a sizable Arab student population. I am afraid for their safety. One of the most enjoyable spontaneous conversations I’ve ever had was when I was in the ceramic studio and working on a ceramic mezuzah and chatting with a Moslem lady from Jordan.

The US is no longer the country I love. After mid-January 2017, the government will no longer represent me but will represent everything I find abhorrent about the human race.

I’ve turned to art for inner healing, for calming, for sanity. I took another look at the photos I took on the Downtown Mall a week or so ago.

I deliberately looked for subjects that were different, interesting to me, and tried to see things from alternative angles while I was taking those photos.

I got out the sketchbook and colored pencils. And colored Sharpie markers and started with shapes.

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Next, I deconstructed shapes.

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A look at the process. Start with lines and some color. Then, slowly, fill in more color.

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I haven’t come up with a design for a quilt and I’m not even thinking about designs for clay. I’ve put clay aside until I get a final diagnosis on what may be a hernia and get whatever it is fixed. I’m no happier about the events in Washington, but I feel more centered and calm.

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Art. Lots of Art.

It’s time to start selling art, so I put some of my mugs into my etsy shop.  We’ve got a local farmer’s market where local artists sell their work. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for me now. Jim and I wanted to do something different together so be both got a hernia. No lugging tables and boxes for at least another six months. Jim gets his hernia fixed in December. I find out next week when I can get mine fixed.

I avoid putting my work in galleries. Both of us have had terrible gallery experiences: work that got damaged, work that disappeared, not getting paid in a timely manner….. If I wanted that much stress, I wouldn’t have retired. So… I’m trying an etsy store.

To visit my shop,  Click Here

Because I can’t work with clay for a while, I’m playing with my other art toys. I’ve been spending quality time with the Canon Rebel. I went to the Downtown Mall on Wednesday to practice street shots. I wanted to take photos that were different from the way over done look-down-the-street shot. Being a fiber artist, I was looking for texture and things I could translate to fabric, beads, and embellishments.

There’s a restaurant on the Downtown Mall. I’ve never eaten there so I can’t comment on the food, but I sure do like the door. I have options for how I want to translate these photos. Batik using bits of the metalwork. Doing the rays with beads. Using the rays as a FMQ pattern.

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For these shots, I played around with what I was focusing on. The farmer’s market was happening while I was shooting and that’s why there are ristras in the bottom photo. I can see doing a pictorial quilt, putting a sheer fabric over the top, and then using the metal work as inspiration for quilting with a dark color thread.

I looked for shots that would have funky texture.

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Haven’t a clue yet how I will use these, but I like the texture.

Not your every day looking down the street shots.

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The bottom photo gives me an idea for using a shadow on a quilt. I won’t use that shadow, but it’s a start for an idea.

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In college, one of my majors was biology and my work concentrated on botany and cell biology. Jim bought me the last fully manual SLR that Canon made in 1980 and I spent many rolls of film shooting plants. Dead plant is different subject matter for me. I’ve never made a dead plant quilt, but maybe I should.

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There’s a fountain on the Downtown Mall and I played around with shutter speed trying to stop the water. I left the camera on auto focus, and that made shooting at the precise second difficult. I also left the camera on single shot. Next time, I’ll use manual focus and continuous shooting.

I’ve been working on a crocheted bedspread. After reading instructions for dyeing yarn, I realized how messy and time consuming that would be. So I’m making squares and when I get enough squares, I’ll dye the squares.

I’ve also been working on a blouse from a Vogue pattern. First, I lost the instructions. No, I don’t know how I did that. I also don’t know where the instructions hid themselves. Not to worry – I’ve been sewing for 52 years. Surely I can figure out how to sew this blouse together. The figuring would be remarkably easier if only the notches would match up. That’s the second pattern lately to have markings not match. I’ve also had instructions tell me to sew a blouse together in the most difficult way possible. I know it’s difficult to write instructions, but mistakes this huge should not happen.

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Getting Ready For Art on the Patio Sale

My summer studio looks remarkably like my back patio and I want to try having an open studio sale. So, Art on the Patio. Now that I’ve said it out loud, I have to do it. I’m having the usual pre-show angst. Do I have enough pieces made? What if I sell out in the first hour? What if no one shows up? What if I don’t sell anything? I’ll be fine once I get to the last weekend this month – which is when the sale is.

Just to add to the fall fun, Jim and I have matching hernias. Mine is lower right abdomen, his is upper left. Neither of us should be living kiln shelves. Jim gets his hernia fixed in early December. I get to see the specialist to find out about my hernia later this month. Once we start getting fixed, there will be no shelf lifting or kiln loading for at least three months. I’m not just in pre-show production mode, I’m in pre-enforced no clay mode.

I’ve got a number of pieces in varying stages of ready to be bisque fired. I’ve made some Christmas ornaments. I’ve got cowboy boots and chilis made, and I wanted something a bit different.

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The koi and the ginkgo are commercial stamps. The leaves and stylized trees are my hand-made stamps.

I’ve been playing with ideas for boxes. The white clay piece has impressions from my leaf stamps. The brown clay piece has an impression from a doily I crocheted. I am not thrilled with the doily so I am now using it with clay.

Someone, and I don’t remember who, suggested I would be able to see the cones better if I painted a brick or post with red iron oxide and put that behind my cones. I don’t have a brick or post to paint, so I rolled out a slab, used the same doily I don’t like, plopped the slab over a mold and got a little wall for behind the cones. I’ll coat it with red iron oxide and bisque it standing behind the cones.

I’m still working on a non-piddling teapot. When I tested the teapots I bisque fired a few days ago, one pot wouldn’t pour right. I knew I had made a better pot than that. Then I discovered that a wasp had built a nest in the spout. It’s tough to destroy a wasp’s nest after it has been bisque fired. The pot poured significantly better after I managed to dig out the nest. img_3289img_3288

I’m still working on learning the Canon. These are today’s backyard photos.

I played with the telephoto lens the other night as I took sunset photos. img_3203img_3204img_3230img_3254

I learned that with the telephoto lens, I’m better off it I use manual focus. I also learned that the lens shortens the foreground. In some of the shots I took, it looks as if I lived in the middle of a city. When I checked, some of the houses were at least a half mile away and  many were a mile or more away.

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Latest Experiments

A friend and I were talking about pearl cotton, and my brain started creating. Pearl cotton is fairly thick. Yes, you can quilt with it, but it takes determination to pull the needle and pearl cotton through the quilt sandwich. What about couching? I’ve got a special sewing machine foot that has a groove in the bottom. It’s used for couching cords, thread, yarn, whatever. The drawback is that I can only use a zigzag stitch with that foot and I wanted something more subtle. Or… maybe if I used a blind hem stitch with the couching foot???? I’ll have to play around with the foot.

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I made a thumbnail quilt. A scrap of fabric, a scrap of batting, some pearl cotton and started playing. I used the close up setting on the Canon for these shots. Notice how well that bit of thread I didn’t see shows up.

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For the top four branches, I used crochet cotton for the couching. The lower left branch has double thickness green holographic thread. The right lower branch has double thickness copper holographic thread. The stem has a strand of green and a strand of copper holographic threads. I have magpie tendencies and like the copper holographic thread the best. Somewhere in the sewing room I’ve got some pale gray pearl cotton. I think pale gray would be better for showing off the fancy threads used for the couching.

I like the couching, but I don’t think this is the best design for that technique. I think trapunto would work better. On my next thumbnail quilt, I’ll pay with trapunto.

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For this bit, I used a variegated green, polyester thread, single thickness. I think this is a better design for couching, but I’m not happy with the ends of the pearl cotton. I think if I do this again, I’ll grit my teeth, thread a needle, and pull the pearl cotton through the quilt sandwich. A knot on the back of a quilt is less distracting than a fraying end on the front. Unless I exploit the fraying and deliberately leave frayed fringe.

This morning, I had better luck with sunrise shots. I wanted to take photos of the western sky because the sky in the west had all the lovely rose colors. Although these shots look like they were taken at different times, they weren’t. They were taken one right after another.

I’ve been playing with the close up setting on the Canon. I may be able to avoid having to buy a macro lens.

Some of the shots, which aren’t posted here, would have been far better had I used a tripod. Next time.

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I finally got the kiln to fire evenly. From the bottom, bottom shelf, next to bottom shelf, cones I looked at, top shelf. I’m used to seeing all the cones on the top shelf flat and the cones on the bottom shelf standing upright. This was a bisque firing, and I used ^06, ^04, and ^03. Only ^06 went down although I was sure I couldn’t see any cones through the peep hole.

A friend on the Claybuddies page (Facebook), suggested putting a post or soft brick that had been painted with red iron oxide behind the cones so I’d get better contrast and be able to see the cones. I’ll be making a standing slab to coat with RIO later today.

I wanted to be able to remember where I had the damper and lever that controls the gas when the kiln was firing evenly. I usually sketch, but this time, I took a photo. It’s an Olympic round gas kiln fired with propane. We don’t have a gas line out where I live. I printed out the photos and put them in my kiln log.