Friday, May 30, 2014

Going from Meh to Making something

what is this feeling, ennui?
I know just what that feeling is like. Your mind is full of what you want to make but you don't want to do it. When that happens, I sit on the porch and read something or meditate. It can go on for days but the muse always comes back. Something tips the balance and you must work again.

That thing that tips the balance from, "I just don't feel like it"  to " I must go make that " is magical. And interesting... it's one of the questions I ask artists. What takes you from meh to must make?

I hear people say, don't wait for a feeling or inspiration, just do it. Do the work. They say it emphatically!

I'm learning new words, self empowering words and will practice them right here on the 'just do it' dogma.

I Disagree.

I am learning it's okay to disagree, even with  printed word, even with dogma, even in the face of someone who intently tells you they are right, even to family members. There is power in those little words. The power of self respect, of believing in your thoughts and feelings. I don't need to convince anyone that I'm right, because it's just my opinions, what is truth for me.

While it would be great to always just walk in the studio and start making something, what if it's equally important to listen to the quiet voice that says, not now, not yet, be quiet a moment. Your power is not lost, it's rebooting.
Feel free to disagree

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Is there a Doctor in the house??? YEP!

Not just another pretty face...
 There IS a Doctor in the house! He's my dear husband Drew... Dr. Drew! He studied for many years for this Ph.D. in electrical engineering. All while working full time in the field, taking care of home and us, and dealing with life's frustrations. This is such an accomplishment and I am very proud of him!
The day started with a picture with the school mascot, a retriever! We love dogs! Drew is wearing the robes of a Univ of MD Baltimore Campus doctoral graduate. The robe and hood are gorgeous colors, gold and blue velvet, just the thing for someone who loves color!

I sat upstairs with others who cope with physical issues and was lucky enough to be near this service lab who watched his boy graduate with a masters. The ceremony was wonderful but sometime during the introductions one might feel a bit tired and want to rest their heads.
The commencement speech was right up my alley!
The professor talked about how we are all connected, and must be nice to each other and remember the lessons we learned in kindergarten.
Then the adviser placed the hood over Drew's shoulders, read a bit about his work, and it was official! 

I love the sentiment on this bench. One students pass each day on their way to and from class.
The Regalia

We had lunch in Little Italy at our fave little restaurant, Amicci's then home to pick up the other member of the family for a walk around Annapolis and a mojito toast to the graduate!

Here's to the man! The one who is patient and kind, smart and funny, the doggie daddy, the dear husband.  Now you can resume your life already in progress!

Love, your proud wife,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our little refuge

 This is our nook, our place of comfort for the warmer months. It almost sold us the house in fact. Like my studio, we've moved furniture around over the years according to our changing needs but this has been our nook for a few years now.
On a summer evening, we gather here after work, often with a glass of wine, a good book, sounds of birds splashing in the fountain just outside the screen. We catch up on the day and connect, our little family of three. Cole likes to get the walk out of the way, so he can sit in his spot.
King of all he surveys. It's on the other side of the porch from us, but the best chipmunk watching area and the best place to watch the squirrel channel. See his birdhouse toy? He can pull the birds out and it's not torn to smithereens. During the great pollen cleansing, I saw some iris in the yard so I decided to have freshly cut flowers on the table
We have so many trees that sunshine is scarce and flowers have a hard time thriving. These iris must be hardy!!
I made the table cloth by folding yardage in fourths and cutting a pie section out, then binding with commercial white binding.

It was simple and fits better than any I could have bought. With the scraps I made a little holder for magazines and books for the porch reading.

At the moment I'm reading The Moment, stories by artists and writers of the moment that changed their lives. Short stories, easy to read in a moment and so full of impact. The mug rug came from a trade at the Houston quilt show two years ago, the strong coffee came from this morning's brew, wish you were here with me to chat!
On a whim last night, after DH installed a new kitchen faucet, (did you hear the screams from your house?) we took a break, went to a garden center for some hanging flower baskets and saw these turquoise chairs on sale.
I LOVE turquoise. These chairs, like goldilocks' porridge, are just right for my short legs and bad back. I wondered if we should spend the money, but they brightened up the whole back porch!! They look great against the wood.
They make me happy.

It's amazing how a small change can brighten your place. A pop of color can brighten your living space. How color can influence your mood.
So what changes have you made lately that made you happy? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hawaii A-Moo-Ha !

I wanted to show you my State Challenge piece all finished! I called it A Moo Ha and it's 45" X 35"
I shared some of the construction along the way on these posts, Quilted text and making of the hibiscus flowers and how I made the sun and pineapples
This is a bit closer and remember you can click on pictures to see them larger. 
She's a full figured gal, with a lot of hip to jut out when swingin' that grass skirt. I plan to write an article on that process but it was fun and messy! Note her bra top, with seashells, and her flower lei made of sequins and seed beads. Her boyfriend is playing a ukelele and mooooning over her. 
I made her like a doll, with stuffing,  and then sewed her to the quilt last.
The surfboard also stands out from the quilt and used one of my special hoarded old fabrics.I just cut out the words RonJon and fused them on, because I fondly remember going to a RonJon shop once.
The palm tree came out just the way I wanted, and I quite enjoyed how the quilting looked, note two wooden heart coconuts. The little stone in front of the surfboard says "laugh" so... go ahead and laugh!

I chose the wilder of the two pineapples and I loved the wavy line quilting on it. I have never done that kind of thing but it seemed called for. Looks like someone had a mai tai or two while quilting doesn't it??
The hibiscus were scrunched up while
appliqueing/quilting them to add dimension. They are
beaded by hand with a few iron on crystals for good
You can see the quilting along the sand. I had some questions about leaving some unquilted area for movement. I think there has been a trend for several years to over quilting, filling a space so much that there is little drape or contrast and I wondered if judges have been seeing that so much they won't appreciate my attempt at sand dunes. I decided I like it and left it with some echo lines and un quilted areas.
 Here are the flowers on the other side  shown close up. Lots of metallic threads including halograph mylar. Really shiny. In the right light it really glistens like dew on a petal. Beads, sequins and crystals for the stamens.
I entered it in our guild challenge. It did not win any prizes, but when we went up to tell a bit about our quilts, the audience ooooohed. I thought, come on! You just saw it over there! It was in shadow though so when it caught the light it performed the way it does at home. Lighting is important.
One guild member commented " I thought it was Hawaii until I saw the cow. They only have brown cows there"  (Picture my reaction) I said, "I don't let  reality interrupt my life too much" Really! That's what made her reject Hawaii despite the hibiscus, volcanoes, beaches palm tree, tiny 3 inch log cabin blocks with flamingoes in each center, pineapple, and surfboard??
Not the fact that the cow was dancing on her hind hooves wearing a grass skirt accompanied by a ukelele playing boy. hmph.
Shrug, I might be slightly less traditional than most around here. I like it.
linked to bloggers quilt festival

Sunday, May 18, 2014

more paint fun

Lighting really makes a difference. I decided to paint a seashell tonight in anticipation of teaching others
in my upcoming workshop.

I haven't done seashells in a while so after gathering up lots of paints, fabrics, tools, my patterns, etc, I
painted a bit.
The one on the left is on some kind of drapery material bought at a yard sale. It acts like silk.
The right is muslin

I'm using Jacquard and Seta, soft color, and just about any other textile paint who's color I like.
I use the little muffin pan for a palette, the one from frozen pastry puffs. I eat them for you, my students, just so you can paint.
You're welcome.
I checked out some picture books from the library and painted these from looking at the pictures. They will be changed with thread work, backgrounds, beads. But for now, thought I'd show you why I haven't been blogging... busy gathering supplies.
You are always welcome to look at my labels on the side for older posts about subjects you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

what's on your fridge?

what's on your fridge? Admit it, when you go to a friend's house, it's fun to see what stuff they have on display! Maybe I have gone wacky but I feel it's like a little refrigerated time capsule. It tells you a bit about it's people.

 Love this button. DH gave me the dream big magnet recently. I have trouble with confidence so he is encouraging well, courage. That's Cole as a puppy in VT one fall.
The DaVinci quote, I am still learning suits us both, but we got it while DH was in the PhD program.

The "you can't have everything" card was a prompt for fabric store visits.
 Saw the poodle comic on line and had to put it on the fridge. Cole went through a very testy period while his ears hurt all the time. Attack poodle.
We had to keep little kids at bay as they are soft on the outside and crunchy on the insides.
Below is a pic of the two of us at my sister's one NYE, and for some reason I just love our expressions. Plus we were almost at goal weights, and have ahem, found a few of the pounds we lost since then.
The sign Creativity takes courage says a lot too.
My sister hates stuff on the outside of a fridge. Hers looks like her cabinets.

There's room for all kinds, right?

I need to hang my little quilt, "Go to your studio and make stuff" here, to remind me to stop nibbling and go sew.
I invite you to put a picture of what's on your fridge on your blog and direct us to them in the comments section! 

Defining your creative self #1

I brought up one of my pieces of art to illustrate today's blogpost.
I am an artist. I am a quilter. I am a writer. I am the sum of my history and interests and plans for the future.What you do for a living is often different from what your avocation or passion is. I am a recovering social worker who helped children survive. Now I am a working, consumed, art maker who loves fiber.

Art now consumes most of my waking hours and a few dreams. How was I creative BQ (before quilting)?

Despite the world trying to make me into an obedient student, daughter, girl, person,
 I believe I was always creative.
Creative people are sometimes perceived as being...  different.

 I wrote a list of the ways I was creative as a child this morning. In 2 minutes I had a list of 30 ways I was creative from childhood until I discovered original quilts. I'll share that list another time, shall I?

Today I am considering the general concept of living a creative life and wondered about you, my blog friends. How were you creative before quilting entered your life? Did you grow up using your creativity?

 As a child I was always quietly imagining stories, writing plays, turning old mismatched jewelry into speaking entities  with personalities who lived in cities made from towels. I melted crayons and ran the colors together. I spent a good amount of time alone making stuff, but also wanting to play with friends.

Even then it was a balance of alone time to imagine and create VS the need to be with friends. Then, as now, my friends didn't always get the creative side of me. Going through the psychology program in university, I was a volunteer for extra credit, test-taker. The grad student analyzing the results was often surprised that I scored highly in opposite elements. I explained it depended on the situation... I needed to be alone to create, but am also extroverted, and love to be around people. 

Expressing your original self or making original art,  is a drive, and isn't always understood by others who prefer to blend in. That choice is valid too, just not my choice.

Are you an artist who also likes to be around others?  Have you found a group to fit into? What's that like?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Going to the beach

 The birthday day trips continued into the next day when we went to the beach. I'm from Florida, and I love a beach. Something about the sound of gulls, smell of Coppertone lotion, feel of the wet sand shifting under your toes.
 We went to Rehoboth DE. They have a boardwalk where they don't allow dogs but apparently all bets were off this weekend as there were lots of dogs and Cole fit right in.
The first time we introduced Cole-puppy to the beach, he ran out and grabbed a mouthful of sand like he does with snow.

The look on his face! He was horrified like we tricked him! Most of the sand poured back out and he looked like Tom Hanks in the movie BIG where he tried to scrape his tongue of the caviar!!
Much better was the fish and chips lunch at an outside cafe. We were one of three tables with dogs, there was a breeze and awning to keep off the sprinkling of rain. Cole enjoyed some fish but he just turned 12 and is still too young for beer.
 We shopped and shopped at the cute little boutiques along the main street. Cole shops too, walks along the shelves and looks at all the merchandise. There were lots of stores with kitschy fifties "antiques"
Hey! Just like me, I'm a fifties antique!
We ended up resting on a boardwalk bench...
 very peaceful. Til the parade of beauties began...

Lots of prom goers dressed in sparkly gowns and tuxedos. The girls all barefoot, hiking up their strapless gowns, which is one of my pet peeves. This one was snapping and mean to her mom, texting, and darn it! I missed the money shot. She had a wad of bubble gum and blew an enormous bubble just before this shot.

Oh how I wish I'd caught that!
Apparently the crystal-covered promsters parade thru the town gazebo for adoring parents and gawkers like us, an emcee with a microphone narrates. 
We shopped at outlets on the way out of town. Here in America we seem to have outlet stores near every tourist town.
We had dinner at a Cracker Barrel and our table was right next to this shadow box full of sewing supplies! How lucky was that?
This is also where I found the spoon rest at the top of the picture, 50% off! Dinner, spoonrest, peppermint candy paid for, we returned home tired and like we'd been gone for days. We were able to finish listening to a book on CD we shared on the last car trip as well, so it was a good day.

If you enjoy reading about our travels please visit the label on  ( outings and events) or (walks with poodle) where you can see pictures of other places we go!
older now

Sunday, May 11, 2014

More fabric purchased

It's okay, it's my birthday!
My loving husband said, since we can't go out on your real birthday this year, I'll take Friday afternoon off and we'll do some day trips this weekend! What do you want for your birthday? A new sewing machine?

Oh. My. Word. Yessssss but I don't know which one I want to spend a fortune on yet.
We three got in the car, and headed off to Jenny Beyer Studio where I tasked DH to choose three yards of any fabric in her store to get me. This is fun! I get to see what he thinks I will like, and I will like any of her current fabrics.
 We loaded into the car, and headed for VA.
The DC beltway had it's way with us however, and some poor souls had a multi car pile up causing quite a long traffic problem. We are not known for our patience with traffic here in the greater DC area.

I needed some paint for the upcoming workshop so we decided to change plans and visit a new to me art supply store in Rockville. Then on to Mecca...
 It's just impossible for me to go to Rockville without a trip here. Look at the cutest of carry on suitcases! DH asked if that would be my gift... I zipped, unzipped, lifted, tried the locks, fell in love, and turned them down. Cute doesn't cut it when they don't function well and feel flimsy. Ah well.
 While in the shopping center, might as well visit Cole's store...

He shopped and visited, and we left poorer but with treats a food allergic poodle could eat.
 Reminds me of a comedian who when asked if her dog liked the expensive organic treats just bought, responded, "I don't know, he's out back eating bunny poop right now..." 

We continued the journey on to Capital Quilts in Gaithersburg, where the three of us shopped for mommy. Mr Not-Afraid-of-Color chose several fabrics to buy me including that multi colored one printed from a digital image. Very exciting. Wonder how I'll fit them into the stash?? Better go cut something big up into little pieces to sew back together and make room!

 Oh, I just had to include a pic of this wee little plastic chair we got yesterday on another birthday day trip, this time to the beach. I'll show you more tomorrow, it was quite a caper we had!
This little beauty reminds me totally of my childhood, it actually swivels too!! You'd have bought it too wouldn't you:?

I'll leave you with a gratuitous poodle shot.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Emerald stained glass

 Emeralds for May! The scrap challenge color this month over at
so scrappy is emerald green. Check out the other links, it's fun!

I have an overflowing green scrap bin, as I use a lot of greens in my quilts. Do you find you tend to make quilts in a certain color?
A lot of my quilts seem to be turquoise, fuschia, and green based.

Well, I can't say that... I love every color with beige being on the bottom of the choice heap.

I made the stained glass block again, this time with greens. Here are the other month's colors all quickly placed on the wall for a picture. Blue, pink, teal, purple, and green. The individual blocks will have black around each one in the end... I think. We'll see.

Do you like one layout over another? grouping the colors or mixing them up? Imagine all the possibilities after the year is over!

It's quite fun looking though for fabrics with movement, mixing pattern and shade to keep the feeling of a color while subtly mixing in others.
I seldom am able to keep to just one tone, it makes it flat to me.
The excitement comes in with light to dark, yellowish to bluish, an
unexpected splash of a totally different color within the base color.

BTW, the green scrap bin is still overflowing it's banks! Makes me feel rich.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Then it became something

Remember when I made a studio piece, just to sew? If not, here is the post (click here to view)

I painted it using a stencil of blossoms, white,pink and blue iridescent paint,  quilted with metallic threads,
used peltex instead of batting and appliqued the flower.
The backing to the little quilt was more scrap strips.
At first I thought I ruined it with the paint.

 I sort of folded it in half and saw the potential of a notebook cover. I like it!

 This is it opened up. I just sewed a purple ribbon across the inside to slip a notebook into. I included a side loop for a pen.

 Here it is with a striped binding. A quick double fold binding done all on the machine with miters and top stitched with gold thread. I chose a happy little flower button & made a ribbon loop closure.

Next picture is the back.
I actually like the front and back better viewed as separate entities!

What did I learn? Sewing little scraps together can be calming. You can learn about color/value while sewing just for fun. Pretty paint on fabric may not look right even when all the components are right. You can salvage mistakes. Mainly, you don't have to know where you are going when you start, you can decide after it's nearly done.
If you don't blog about it, no one will know... heh, heh

At least I finished something today and that feels good.
I'm already using it too!