Saturday, April 29, 2006

The workshop space before we mess it up.

Announcing my new workshop for the July 21-22 Frederick Talbott Inn Retreat
Design Small -
Work Large
Making small fabric sketches and auditioning layouts can lead to new ideas for larger scale works. Working with simple shapes, and the digital camera, participants will record a variety of
compositions and design a series of work based on these improvisational fabric thumbnails.
Exercises will include creating value variations, unexpected color schemes, simplifying and clarifying designs and minimizing quilting. New finishing techniques for odd shaped quilts as well as alternative display ideas will be discussed.
$100 for two days tuition, plus Bed and Breakfast costs. Email me for supply list and to register. Size is limited to 12 and four are already registered.

I loves me this tub...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Teaching without a net

I had 18 in my class yesterday, and
two were teachers, one worked at the Wustum Museum and 15 were high school aged students who
1. never made a quilt
2. never used a rotary cutter
3. rarely if ever held an iron
4. had to visit my website and write an essay about why they wanted to be in my class!

These were the winners of the contest.

They took to the project like bees to nectar.

The difference between high schoolers and adult workshop attendees....
Where do I begin?
They talk all through the day, the energy level is amazing, the confidence is astounding, and they never ask,
Is this right?
They are always right!

Carol made a very unusual log cabin, which I was informed was a hexagon.

Decorative elements were finally 'allowed'

with some very tasty results.

I had a wonderful time and was wrung out at the end of the day. Several students said they were going to continue to play around with this stuff, and made sure they took home the leftover wonder-under.
I crawled back to the hotel and met Dave there. There was wine, the whirlpool in the room and no pictures. Sigh.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lake Michigan, Racine WI

The view from my hotel room

Not a soul in sight, and the water is still as a mirror.

I have a Sleep Number bed! I forgot all about adjusting it, as I was more concerned with finding what TV station carries American Idol. I am hopelessly hooked. As if you didn't know.

When I saw this tub I immediately emailed Dave to drive up. I guess he is not reading his email,

and definitely can't hear the phone.
Today I will be teaching Tiny Art Quilts to 18 hand chosen high school students at the Wustum Museum. This is part of the Workshops with the Masters (again, I giggle) that the Racine Art Museum (RAM) has set up. The deal is that the museum has purchased rotary cutters, mats, scissors and Wonder-Under for these kids, as well as the fabric kits from me. Is this cool or what? I wish I had had stuff like this when I was in high school.
Now, am I up for the challenge of being the second quilt teacher to reach into their minds and entice them into the world of art quilting? The first was none other than Michael James who has a large wonderful exhibit at the RAM. Gulp.
My plan is to show them all the fun stuff and never mention that it all has to be quilted, eventually.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Real End of Hoop Jumping
I just read Gabrielle's blog about judging at Paducah and she showed pictures of some of the winners and that KNOT in my stomach formed again.
O I know I have a penchant for making huge pronouncements (see: It has all become clear to me!!!) but they usually fade like a fart in the wind, and I forget that I ever thought that way, or made that declaration.
But looking at those pictures of the winning quilts really solidified for me that I have ended the need to out-do, to reach for the gold, to stand on my head, to squeeze out of my creative juices one more senselessly overdone exhibitionist type quilt.
I wanna enjoy the process. I wanna be happy with the product. I wanna relax when I am in a room where it is displayed. I want to feel a peace and a warmth and a teeny thrill come over me when I look at it hanging.
I don't want to have to live up to my last best piece.
Going to a quilt show is difficult for me these days. Either the work is great and it makes me feel bad or the work is bad and it makes me feel bad.
The worst though is when I see work that is made just to win the money.
As a viewer, I feel manipulated. I know and understand the effort it took. It is the fudge sauce, the whipped cream, the cherry, the sprinkles and then the airbrushed sparkels, which make it all so inedible.
And what's worse, is that I know all too well the motivation. I have been there. I have done that. I have won that.
Of course it was in the dark ages when things were simpler, and all you needed to win were the meager tricks in my bag. But one knows that manic feeling of pushing the envelope, of adding one more thing on top to KILL the judges and get that ribbon!
So since I said it before, earlier this year and I still feel it, I guess it is really going to stick this time.
NO MORE hoop jumping quilts for this girl.
This just in! Marcia Derse has begun a website!!! Take a look here

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Return of Frieda

Yes, Frieda has returned from her trip to New Zealand and I scurried over to her house to have a reunion.

She showed me her slides, via Picasa2 of course, of all her travels and it was amazing and gorgeous. We both agreed that we'd emigrate in a second if we could. New Zealand is like Britain only affordable. And it has the best combination of terrain and proper manners. Twice a day they stop for tea, even in workshops! How civilized. I love the mix of temperate and exotic flora and of course the fauna is world reknown. Sheep, sheep, plenty of sheep. Which means wool!!! And Lamb chops!!

We drank plenty of this and caught up on inter-girlfriend news and then started haranging each other on the rest of the month's work. WE are both running like madwomen, with very very busy schedules.

What a pair!
She's going to Paducah, and then immediately onto New York. With her leg still in a cast.
Poor darling.
I have been washing and ironing fabric, and folding patterns and stuffing envelopes. Such artistic pursuits. Still I love seeing how the fabric dyed up, so there is some satisfaction involved.
This week I will be teaching in Racine, get this: The Workshop with the Masters Program at the Racine Museum of Art. One of my classes will be high school students. That will be a kick! Imagine getting a roomful of "innocents" and introducing them to art quilts. I am itching to infuse them with my agitprop. (who talks like that?)
Then I fly to St. Louis for a lecture and workshop with the Booneslick Quilters, in Columbia MO, take a breath and then fly to Denver for the new Mancuso's Denver National Quilt Fest. I will be roomies with my fave Nederlander fuser Marjan Kluepfel, who I love! This will be fun and exciting to see the new venue. Then swoosh, I am off to Tucson for a week with the Tucson Quilt Guild. Since I am already in the Southwest, I decided to stay a little longer and invited my sweetie Dave to rendesvous with me in Santa Fe. This will be our first time there. WE are very excited.
Now what will I pack, clotheswise, for such a long trip?
This just in! Marcia Derse has begun a website!!! Take a look here

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday with Dave

After a hearty breakfast of cereal and fruit we headed off to the nursery to find some shade plants for one of our backyard boxes.

It's still early days for flowers but there were plenty of pansies and petunias available. We think they need sun, which we don't have, and we pass them up.

However they are so very beautiful but what we want are shade plants, really.

Here we go! A whole array of Heuchera, which is commonly known as Coral Bells. The flowers are pretty insignificant but the foliage is spectacular and comes up early and stays pretty well into the first snows.

So many new varieties are available now. This is Caramel.

Lime Rickey



Plum Pudding. Notice they are all food titles?

One plant was in bloom already. Nothing to write home about. This photo was taken on the macro setting. The actual size is teeny.

Dave likes these and since he is taking the story of Lady Chatterley and her affair with her gardener to heart, he is eager to plant these for me, Her Ladyship...

We chose Lime Rickey and Plum Pudding. We have many Palace Purple heuchera plants in that box at home already, as an outer border, so these are to fill in the middle.

When we pulled into our driveway we saw that the whole town was walking down our street, Main Street , and you could see they were heading for something good. The kids were scrambling around with bags picking up candy off the street!
Here's the loot one dad was guarding.

I guessed it was a delayed Easter Parade, but no...

We all ended up at the ball park at the elementary school where the newly uniformed teams were to be introduced and the season announced. Spring in Illinois brings out the families, and especially when there is free candy. The street is now a mess of wrappers and smooshed peanut butter cups, life savers, and tootsie rolls.
As we walked home I spied this wonderful homemade copper pipe trellis. Who can I get to make me one of these?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Just working

These are all my kits for classes through June, ironed and ready to ship or take with me. When this is all I did for two days, it is hard to find something interesting to blog. So I searched my favorite blogs and the Discardian had a great post which I would like to share with you. Spring cleaning isn't just for your closets or your garden beds. It's also a great time to clean out one's psyche.

When it's over, it's over.

Take an hour or two for yourself today. Take a walk or close the door and relax in private at home. The important part is to create some solitude to think a bit.

What are you hanging onto that you should let go of?

What emotion do you keep stoking the coals of out of habit, but really are ready to move on from?
Is it time to stop grieving and resume living? Time to abandon chewing the bones of that old grudge? Time to move on from longing for someone who isn't the one for you? Time to quit swallowing your pain and cutting someone far too much slack for the hurt they cause you?
Meditate on where you spend your emotional energy and what kind of life that is giving you. If it's not the life you want, start changing it.
Right now. Today. Just change your direction and step towards where you want to be.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Family Portrait

I got an email yesterday that said they liked the pictures on my sidebar of my family and friends but, "Why don't you have any of your lazy bum cats?"
Besides the fact that they don't have a blog, I guess because
I have a hard time getting them to smile.

Jet always looks pissed.
And mostly he is. He is fading fast and is all skin and bones. We keep telling him that this is his last summer, or fall or winter and now this is his last spring. But he is too ornery to die. He has kitty alzheimer's and forgets to eat and more recently the location of the litter box. He hasn't groomed himself since last Halloween, and his breath would melt plastic. This makes him less than desirable to be near. Still he hangs on. I pet him and tell him we'll miss him when he's gone, but he won't take the hint.

Lights on Nobody Home

Popeye his younger brother (our only natural born child, but that's another story) is waiting in the wings to be top cat around here. He is way on the dumb side, having been dropped on his head as a kitten. He mostly has one talent. EATING.
We wonder what will happen when he is the only cat. He weighs so much that when he tries to jump up on the bed or the couch it takes several attempts before he is successful. Sometimes he just gives up as the humiliation is too great. He needs one of those pet staircase things they advertise on TV. But really we don't want him on the bed with us, as he takes up so much room and snores too loud. And wherever he lays, he leaves a load of fur behind. If he sits on your lap, don't adjust your legs or his claws come out, in a vain attempt to balance his voluminous weight. Popeye will have no kitty memories to look back on. He slept through everything.

That damn bird, Mr. Cardinal woke up at 4 again today. So did we.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Spring Arrives in a Big Way

And now for a bit of self indulgent photography...

The rain last night brought everything to LIFE including massive amounts of sturdy weeds. Nevertheless, they are overshadowed by the fabu Magnolias. Sigh. Springtime in IL is the best.

While I was away Dave mulched and landscaped like a mad man. I think it has something to do with earning sex points. Last summer I promised him gratuities if he cleaned out my flower beds. Like an elephant, he never forgets. I was delighted to see this area defined. I have it in my mind to have a settee and table back there, as the now bare locust tree will soon leaf out and provide a lovely bit o'shade mid-afternoon, say, around cocktail time.

The grass ceased to grown under the maple and now we have another cozy spot for a chaise lounge. Walking on this mulch is so much nicer too. Soft and spongy. And today, wet.

The morning mist. My shoes got sopping wet, but it was worth it for this shot.
Can you see the two birds in this tree? They are Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, the two loudest birds in the neighborhood. At 4am they announce the impending dawn. I would put them in a contest with any rooster for insistence, tenacity and intolerable decibel levels. They are not afraid of cats.

I just finished the last shawl I intend to make. It is huge and I look like a refugee from a yarn store wearing it. I guess it will stay near the downstairs TV in place of an afghan, as it covers mostly everything.

I never meant to make it that large. Like who ever checks gauge on a shawl?
The directions called for Koigu which is pretty fine, and 10.5 sized needles. I thought, which was my first mistake, that if I used dk or worsted it would have more body. Hmm. One begins at the outer edges and then decreases to the hypotenuse. Mindless knitting. Used up a big chunk of stash, which considering my vow to never buy another speck of yarn, is just what the doctor ordered.
I am doing a lot of washing out/ironing/dyeing etc this week in prep for my next set of gigs. I will be gone from late April til May 19. So that means thinking ahead. Am I up for the task?
We'll see.