Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Card Collage

Today seemed like a good day to begin making some of the *annual* homemade cards I send out each Christmas. They are usually limited in number by my attention span. I gathered my refuse: printed envelope interiors, date due slips from the library wastebaskets, a Chinese or Japanese newspaper, and photocopies of fabric. And my glue stick.

I cut 8.5 by 11.5 sheets of 140# watercolor paper in half and did a bit of trimming with my decorative scissors. I made them the best size to fit into a manila envelope I have in bulk. The two here are: Left/first made. Right/last made.

These were quite enjoyable to put together. The *graphic* quality must be uppermost in one's thought process and the lights and darks must be very strong. There were a number of things I wanted to add but they didn't move the design forward. In fact, I had to actually *put* those weak elements in the trash to keep me from trying to use them on each piece.

This tradition of little trees for Christmas began in 2004 when I made tiny quilted fabric trees for 10 lucky friends. They kept them out all year. Last year everyone got a watercolor tree. and this year a paper collage. Now that I recollect: one person got an angel last year and another got a chicken. To reflect personal interests.

Halfway through the trees, I wanted more variety and so I took more stuff upstairs to my husband's office and photocopied things in black and white. If I have any advice here--use what you initially collected. Having too many choices makes for a messy thought process. Less usually works out best. I know there are lots of you who believe more is better but that rarely works out for me.

I have all my ArtShare art finished and ready to be mailed. I just have to prepare myself for the POST OFFICE. Our postal employees have had some instruction in customer service in the past few months and they are actually cheerful and helpful. This change in behaviour causes customers in line (always a long line) to stand and glaze over. Some even leave the line -- possibly believing they aren't in the right building.

I asked for 2 cent stamps on my Monday visit and when I paused to think about my answer to "how many do you want" the postal gentleman assured me that I could have as many as I wanted. You can imagine how this would startle unsuspecting customers.

Note to Edward: The British/PBS productions of PD James novels are excellent. They follow the books exactly. The only *fly* in the ointment is that the last two use all different actors and directors and they aren't as good. Murder Room is one of the new ones. Avoid it. They should be available on DVD at your local movie rental place or library.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gingerbread House- the inside story

The interior of the dollhouse I made into a Gingerbread House. If you check the archives for December or the last week of November 2005 you'll see the outside of the house.

Here's the little painted toy furniture. I painted and distressed the table and chairs and painted the tiny dish cupboard I purchased at Michael's for one dollar. I made the red dotted dishes out of one inch round disks. The package of disks cost three times as much as the cupboard.

The little toy living room furniture with new gumdrop legs. The little rocker was a contribution from a library patron. She went all the way home and back to add it to last year's decor.

The attic with a gingerbread train. I think this cost me $1.99 or some such low price at Grand City last year. I glued the train and everything else to the floor. And this shot is to show off the paint job on the floor with the decorated "cookie" look. I was going to do more but really--I wanted the kids to look at the outside not the inside.

This took me ALL day to paint. Certainly NOT what I wanted to spend time on but what can I say. People love the Gingerbread House.

Just Catching Up

We lost the ability to get on the internet for the past five days. I got alot done. It is amazing how much time I spend on this computer reading blogs, writing messages, creating my own blog posts.

So far today. I overslept. Missed my nail appointment. Realized I had forgotten to unplug my iron yesterday. Finished reading my first Elizabeth George/Lynley mystery. I liked it. Half way through I realized I had seen this particular mystery on television so I "knew" who done it but it was still a good read. Not as good as PD James. I will move on to the second book in the series eventually. There are ten. The newest is "What Happened Before He Shot Her". Lynley's Helen was killed off by the author and readers (if the patrons of library are typical) are EXTREMELY angry about this. Some refuse to read her any more.

I also finished "Blind Submission" by Debra Ginsberg. A first time fiction writer. She has written some non-fiction. Anyway, it was okay. I finished it. I'm a very picky reader. If I don't like the characters, the writing or the story--I just quit. This book was about a literary agent and submissions of book manuscripts etc. Shallow. Could have been a much better book. I have the new Tony Hillerman on my pile and may treat myself to that book next.

I have to regulate my reading. Once begun--I am lost in the book till finished. This morning at 2 am I finally got to the end of Lynley's case. Then I made G's lunch and set out his breakfast things.

We have been having reheated Thanksgiving Dinner every evening when G gets home from his 10 hour shift at Target (we eat while watching movies-- Family Man, Love Actually, and James Bond last night). I even remembered to "crisp" up the turkey wings in the oven the past two nights. I gave up on the turkey last night and had a Greek salad. The pies are delightful! Tuesday is G's 60th birthday. I think we should "eat out".

I'm so happy to have internet connection today!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Compart. Mental. I divide my life, my thoughts, my desires into separate compartments or sections of my life. Thoughts I share on the blog. Others that I record in my pen/paper journal and others that go unrecorded. This recording process has forced me to discover things about myself. Things which are uncomfortable. Ego. Superego. Id.

I think of myself as empathetic, sensitive--- a people person. But now I see myself as someone who keeps a good amount of distance from people. Even family. I just don't *need*. I do *feel*. But the need to be close isn't there. Perhaps there were bonding issues when I was an infant. So I have discovered --in the compartments-- that I am a "difficult" person. I want what I want. I may never want what you want.

I have also discovered something intriguing. My TrashFormation grid pieces have a direct link to Piet Mondrian. All those classes in Fine Art, all those layers of knowledge in my brain, are still there. Unconscious thought. As I drew these Mondrian sketches, I remembered an early acrylic painting of mine in college. My painting professor mentioned in the critique that my work was Mondrian-like -- but there was something very interesting in the way I had painted it. I had forgotten that. The making of these grids comes easily to me--almost automatic. As if someone else was doing the thinking and I was only the hand doing the work.

I have several ideas for future work. And a Pomegranite for my winter watercolor model. Red and round. I think I will cut the fruit open and explore the wonder of drawn and painted seeds and membranes. The inside of the Pom is compartmentalized. Each section full of seeds. Each seed full of tart, red juice. Coincidental? A series of symbolic events? I don't think so.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mid November

My husband brought these tiny orchids home with the groceries. Yellow because he loves yellow. Interesting shape. Almost like little party dresses.

Today has been busy. I finished up my Turkey Word Scramble at 2 am this morning. I refused to give up! And then I had to get up early, get dressed and drive over to the newspaper offices to drop off the entries. I completed my husband's also. I had company. People were coming in with their entries in hand. Everyone wants a free 20# turkey.

When I got home I washed all the bird poop off my car. Yesterday a particularly incontinent group of birds flew over the library parking lot. It was just my car. A co worker got hit in the head. Everyone said bird poop in your hair was "good luck". Where did they get that idea? Anyway, all the hoses are dry and stored in the basement so I had to haul buckets of water out of the garage and toss them on the car to wash off the suds. The weather is still very mild here in Maine but that could change in the next few minutes. It's been raining quite a bit and tree branches are down all over town.

G has the weekend off and we'll be moving stuff in the garage (the house shutters I never painted) and getting out the three 60 inch wide wreaths for the front porch. They look so very festive with all their tiny lights and they fit perfectly in the three arches on the front porch. I refuse to allow him to set up the blow up Christmas Tree or giant Snowman he got at Big Lots three years ago. Can you imagine my "delight" when I drove into the driveway and saw them all blown up, lighted up and wiggling in the wind--- on my front lawn? Whenever G was out of town I unplugged them. Now they are stored in the attic. It would be different if we had small grandkids--- I would "lighten up" and let him decorate the lawn. He really wants one of those ugly "Snowglobes" that have "snow" falling inside.

I'm waiting for a phone call from the library and will be going in to shelve fiction and mystery. My regular shelvers are away for the holidays. That's the thing about volunteers. They go about their business of being retired and the books go unshelved. Oh well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Slacker's Weekend Off

I'm not saying I don't fall into this pattern all too often--but I have done NOTHING for four days now. I thought I might wash a load of towels but only got as far as putting them in the washer. I didn't start the water running. Just walked off. And now I'm just remembering I added the shower curtain. Which might come in handy tomorrow morning.

I finished reading Julia & Julie and have to say I enjoyed it very much. Not what I expected at all. It's wonderful to have a book surprise you. And, while I don't think I would actually like to f***in hang around with Julie, I will look forward to reading another of her books. Though it might have been the "foodie" subject matter that reeled me in--I so wish I had been a chef.

So while reading, not washing or ironing clothes, I made a nice pot of soup for myself. Beans & Greens as the Italians call this soup. White Beans and Escarole. With some carrot, onion and garlic in a broth of veggie boullion cubes and tomatoes. I like it with some red pepper flakes and small macaroni. I also like it with warm crusty bread and butter. And I made Posey Gets Cozy's Sour Cream Apple Pie. It's sitting on the stove waiting for my husband to get home and then we'll have a slice. Not sure about the white sugar and vanilla. I like my apple pie with brown sugar and cinnamon.

I've watched all the cooking shows that TiVo has recorded for me this weekend. It's all about Thanksgiving. Giada made butternut squash lasagna with bechamel and I will be making that soon (and her stuffed shells)-- since I have a wagon full of butternut squash in my garage--from my very own garden. Bobby made grilled turkey legs with this tomato sherry vinegar sauce. And they looked very good. Ina didn't make anything interesting. Well, there were the roasted Brussel Sprouts. Ina needs to stop chopping everything up into "nice, big chunks". Yes, it's "casual" but you don't get to taste everything in one bite. And when you eat chili, do you really want to eat a "nice, big chunk" of peppers and then a "nice, big chunk" of onion and then the big chunk of chicken? Do you?

I also spent a good deal of time working on the Turkey Word Scramble in our local newspaper. I have 10 business names to find out of 120 before the 16th deadline. For 15 years we have entered this contest to win a free turkey and, man, wouldn't you think it was our turn already???? I've been searching for names with the page upside down. It really is amazing what our little three pound brains can do. I found some of the most difficult--- on the diagonal and backwards--- so easily, with the page upside down. I'm seriously thinking of turning my next quilt upside down.

Got to close now. Get the washer going and choose my next book. I've got a mystery and two new novels by first time authors. I enjoy first timers. Beginners Luck.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


There has been significant discussion lately on whether we *Fiber Artists* are acting like professional artists. Since most of us have displayed work in local and state quilt shows in "dingy black curtained cubicles" we aren't prepared to expect art show venues for our work. White walls. Space around each work so the viewer has time to process. Themed shows so the whole thing doesn't look like the "dog's breakfast".

That being said--there aren't many places eager to show fiber art. You take what you can get. If coffee houses, libraries etc are NOT proper venues, then please suggest some alternatives?

I have found that small fiber works need to be framed to garner anything close to real attention. Small work looks too much like a potholder or placemat when shown on it's own. And anyone asked to purchase these small works (for large prices) wonders what to do with them once they own the work. Larger work dominates a space and that is difficult to hang in a home situation unless you live with bare wood floors, plain white walls and minimal furniture.

Oil paintings and watercolors are chosen by the owners because of the subject matter or colors and with the intent of the piece adding decorative value to a room. Architectual Digest has lovely rooms with fantastic art but it always looks like the room evolved around the art. Or the art was selected for the particular room. Are we creating fiber art with that in mind? Should we be???

Educating the public to the value of fiber art is primary to our acceptance in the professional art world. And I think shows in coffee houses and libraries isn't a bad place to begin. I display a new and different piece every few months in my local library and over the course of several years have educated a number of viewers on the possiblities of fabric art. They have sometimes even requested an encore for a favorite piece. I will always consider selling my work, but that is not my purpose in displaying work.

I work alone. No little group to critique my work. At times it is a creative vacuum. So the comments and attention to detail that my fiber work generates at the library helps me focus and refine my work. I do go outside the fiber art world for shows, galleries etc. to feed the artistic side of my work. I was educated and trained in Fine and Applied Art. I see fiber as just one piece of that. I also paint, collage and do mixed media. And truly, it is easier to be successful with my painting than my fiber.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thank Goodness It's Done

I have never started and finished anything this quickly. No time to second quess--just keep going. I knew I couldn't leave the Halloween Quilt up for too long--nothing like a "leftover" holiday quilt. Leftover candy? that's okay. So I layed out the background and put a few too many details on top--AGAIN. I may learn to do this correctly next time. But later on after the quilting and edge binding, it was very easy to add details to the piece. I liked that part a lot.

I added the cup and pear in the last few minutes before taking the quilt to the library and hanging it up. Now that I have Quilt Rule #2- The quilt is never done, you can always add and subtract, even years later. Patrons have complained that they can't make out the details of the fork, spoon and knife because of the fabric I chose. So that may change. Those patrons are really getting to be very good quilt judges!

Here it is hanging in the workroom window behind the Circulation Desk. It's 32 by 47 and not straight at all. Wider at the bottom than the top--just like me.

A young lady checked out books today-- her long pointy black Mohawk is growing out. I asked about it and she is growing her hair out and then going to color it Bubble Gum Pink. Be still my heart. If I was her age, I'd be wanting to do the same. Even at my age, I want to dress in black tights, short skirts and Doc Martens and have my hair sticking straight up and out--with the help of glue. I know--I can still do it-- just need to completely stop eating for a few weeks. The black tights/short skirt thing looks best on skinny girls, I think.

My next quilt is all about red and white polka dots. Sounds like fun!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Thanksgiving Quilt in Progress

Not my usual fabric choices but sometimes I have to actually try and use stuff out of the huge storage boxes along the wall. I am almost to the point of taking the storage items upstairs--far away. To the "out of sight/out of mind" section of the attic. These fabrics are from my Baltimore applique period. I'm really VERY good at hand applique. It just isn't FAST enough for me right now. What you see above is the PLATE.

Some polka dots have snuck into the mix. Don't they always. A girl's just gotta have fun, you know? This is yet another failed attempt with Pamela Allen's tutorial. I just can't stop at the background. I have to add bits of the quilt top. And that makes the topstitching and quilting so problematic. I also have not been able to add all those "doodads" that she adds to the quilt after the quilting. Clothespins, garters, bobbins, wooden wheels, plastic vegetables etc. I want to. But it seems so copy cat. Perhaps if I do it and keep it private--not showing it in public. What you see here are the SALT & PEPPER SHAKERS.

I'm making a table setting. Large plate, flatware, S&P, goblet, vase with flowers. No turkey. There are some pheasants on the fabric. Very much like Pamela's Fish & Chips. But no fish and no poker chips and no carrots. Since Thanksgiving is really about the food. Having enough and not having any.

G loves Thanksgiving dinner. We have it several times during the month of November. Really. What's not to like? And all the leftovers mean not having to cook for at least three days. I love that part. I may even make a pumpkin pie.

And last but never least is the ugly mess on the side of my workroom and under the work table. Those red lidded bins are full of fabric. Novelty, prints, batiks and wool. Everytime I walk around the table to get to the design wall, stuff gets caught on me and slides to the floor. I pick it up and stuff it someplace and then something else slides off. Then I kick it out of my way. I could just take it all to the dump. But I think there may be important stuff mixed in and so it all needs to be sorted. This is sort of a metaphor for my life right now. So much stuff and I have to sort it all out and just save the important bits. SAVE time for the important bits and stop WASTING time on the not so important stuff.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Power

The power went out on Sunday and then late on November 1st we lost the internet and best of all---- all the people on television turned ORANGE. So something strange happened to my cable connection. It's all better now.

It was amazing how much WORK I actually got done while the internet was down. Do I really spend THAT much time on here??? Don't answer that!

I have another quilt backed, batted and basted and ready for quilting. And I am working on a deadline of 5 pm Monday to have it completely finished for hanging at the library. Got to replace the Halloween Quilt. At least it got to hang for a week. WOW. Two quilts in one month.

Then I have art to make for my ArtShare pals. Diana, Emmy, Sam, Deborah and one more....could be YOU! I think I'm forgetting someone. Got to check my list.