Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lisa made four more blocks last night and this morning. Boy, when you wind this girl up and get her started, she's like the energizer bunny - she keeps going and going and going and going...

Did I tell you about her second quilt? My son was away for a month of training for the military. I suggested she make him a quilt as a surprise for his birthday or graduation or something, while he was away. I said it would be a good way to make the time go faster, plus, since he was away, she wouldn't have to worry about having to put the project away and hide it so he wouldn't see it. If I remember correctly, she said that she'd had the same idea. I told her I'd work on a project too, so we could encourage and cheer each other on.

A few days later she called from a store here, a store there, like a busy little bee, gathering material and supplies for her quilt project. A day or so later I called her back to see if she wanted to get started on her blocks, if she needed any help picking a pattern or figuring out how to make them. Nope, she replied. She'd already made them.

WHAT!? Yep, she'd made the blocks and was almost done sewing them together. What she really needed was advice on how to quilt it. So I told her that she basically had three options - give it to someone else to quilt on a long arm, machine quilt it herself, or hand quilt it herself. She decided she'd hand quilt it. I thought that was an excellent idea since she'd finished the top so quickly, hand quilting would give her something to do with the rest of the month still looming in front of her.

The next morning she called, about ten o'clock I think. The conversation went something like this:


"Guess what?!" she said excitedly.


"I finished it!"

"You finished the top? Wonderful!"

"No, I finished the quilt."

"You mean you've already got it layered. Wow, you're fast! So, are you gonna start quilting it now?"

"No. I mean, I finished quilting it. It's done. Well, I still have to put the binding on."

I think I had to sit down and clutch my chest at this point.

"How in the world did you quilt an entire quilt in one night!?"

"Well, I had my new First Season of Friends CD's. I just sat on the couch and watched them and quilted and... I sorta kinda forgot to go to bed."

Ahhhh, the energy of youth. I sure could use some of it myself. Creak, creak.

So, anyhoo, here are four more blocks. I especially love the first one. I asked her where she got that fabulous wild fabric. She said she bought it when we went to the quilt store together. Damn, how did I miss it!? I want some! And while I'm at it, I want some of that great leafy lime green print too.

P.S. Did you notice the girl figured out how to do 45 degree triangles and seams on her own!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I finally had a day free to get into the studio, no tasks or errands to keep me away, and somehow, I still managed not to make it back there at all! I caught a cleaning bug and my house is now much cleaner and tidier, but I'm still disappointed in myself because that wasn't how I had intended to spend the day.

However, my daughter-in-law Lisa managed to do what I did not. She has been spending all evening working on a Quilt for a Cure raffle quilt she is making and e-mailing me a photo each time she finishes another block.

She's a very new quilter. This will only be her third project. She chose to do a pink sampler, so she is learning lots of new skills with this quilt. It's her first attempt at triangles, she's still working on sizing her blocks, which is why there are no tips on the first block. Oh, I remember the frustration of my first attempts to use triangles!!! One of the first blocks I ever attempted (silly me) was a house block with all sorts of angles and different sized pieces and it took me all night to get the dang thing even halfway together. I probably would have given up altogether if another friend, also a new quilter, wasn't having just as much trouble with it. Of course, both of us were too stubborn to ask for any help from anyone who knew what they were doing. We both had to "reinvent the wheel" with each new technique we took on.

Tips or no tips, I think all the blocks so far have turned out really cute. Lisa has got a real eye for putting together colors and fabrics and even without any previous sewing skills, she's shown herself to be a real natural talent.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I was digging through old photographs this morning for a self-portrait blogging thing - you can see it on my Beach Treasure blog, or go to the Self Portrait Tuesday blog to find out about the project. Anyhoo, so I was digging through old photos and came across this one -

That's me about, oh, 29 years ago I guess. That's hard to type. Have I really been not only alive but already an adult for almost 30 years!? It was an art class in college. Notice the cool tinted aviator glasses. The full skirt I'd never be able to get away with wearing nowadays. Oh. This is an art blog? Okay, then notice the pencil drawing of the eagle I'm posing beside. I know I kept that sketch but I haven't been able to find it for at least the last decade and a half. I never framed it so perhaps it was ripped, tossed, and long ago biodegraded back to the forest floor from whence it came. Or maybe it's on the bottom of some box that has been moved through the last five moves only to be stored unopened in a series of sheds and garages.

In any case, it's a photo about art. And since I'm not currently doing anything artsy despite earlier comments about wanting to race home from San Diego and CREATE, I figured this would at least keep my blog from sitting uninterestingly unattended.

Now, back to my current task, a time consuming archeological dig - aka cleaning off my desk. Hey, I have been finding all sorts of fun stuff in the layers, to use for collage work or beading or embellishing or whatever. So that's something artsy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I was excited to show you a pic of this quilt when I finished it a couple of weeks ago and then halfway through writing a post about it I realized my daughter might read my blog and see it, ruining the surprise. So I was good. I waited. And now the baby shower is over, the quilt delivered, and at last, here is the baby quilt I made for my soon-to-arrive granddaughter. That's my daughter Noel holding up the quilt, very happy, and baby girl bump is hiding behind the quilt.

Here are a few close-ups of the blocks. Each one is slightly different, but all are made with fantasy fabrics. Mostly fairies and mermaids but also a unicorn or wizard or two. I've been collecting fantasy fabrics for years and when Noel told me the baby's name will be Anastacia Faye, of course I had to make her a fairy quilt. Fae, spelled differently then Faye, but pronounced the same, is another word that means "fairy".

I forgot to take a photo of the backing fabric. It was turquoise with little baby images and sayings on it. Very sweet. So, it's a very girlie quilt, but not PINK. Not, mind you, that I have anything against pink. In fact I like it in small or moderate quantities. Apparently most everyone else, however, assume that baby girls must be completely awash in the color because except for ONE outfit and this quilt, every single thing Noel got at her baby shower - every bootie, every outfit, every blanket, every EVERYTHING - was PINK.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I brought a quilting project with me so I'd have something productive to do down here at my son and DIL's. Something I could work on without needing every doodad in my studio. So I took a basket of green and blue fabrics that I've wanted to make into a simple scrappy Ohio Star quilt for our bed for a couple of years now. It all started with this ONE print. It was a really old fashion, think grandma's couch, floral print I spied at a local quilt shop. I fell in love with it, in particular the thought of making a quilt in all greens and blues, with no yellow or pink accents. I spent quite a bit of time collecting fabrics without any of those extra colors in it. For awhile it was hard, then I guess the quilter's collective unconscious had my idea/desire float across it and suddenly green and blue prints exploded onto the scene. In any case, I set everything up to start ironing and cutting out different combinations of prints yesterday only to discover.... sniff, sniff....ARGH.....that a cat, either mine or perhaps my son's, had, uhm, peed on the fabric.

Cats are evil, cats are evil, cats are evil, cats are evil, cats are evil, cats are evil, cats are evil......

So, instead Lisa and I went to the quilt shop that her friend was telling her was the best one in San Diego County, Rosie's Calico Cupboard. Frankly, I wasn't expecting much with a name like that, but a quilt shop is a quilt shop and any port in a storm, y'know.

We found the shop and.....

OHMYFREAKINSTARS!!!!!! This shop wasn't in a strip mall. It WAS a strip mall! It took up four or five storefronts.

The first thing we noticed was a huge sale going on outside. $2 a yard on the bolt, cut and FQ's for about a dollar. It was rainingand storming and windy but we braved the cold to dig for gold (and pink and blue and orange and....) and it took us over a half hour just to get in the store.

Inside, all I can, I was overwhelmed. There was too much fabric. Yes, I said what you thought I said. Too much. I couldn't possibly look at it all. And the prices were cheaper by a dollar or two or three from most quilt shops. I guess when you are selling in that much bulk, you can make your profit margin slimmer and still make a living at it.

The shop was completely packed as it was the last day of a week long shop hop of twenty stores. I overheard a lot of women discussing where they'd come from and what shop they were going to next. As Lisa's and my stacks of fabric bolts kept towering higher and ever higher, I couldn't even imagine having enough money (or room!) to go to more stores after that one.

We were there two hours and left lighter of pocket book but heavy of bag. I am quite proud of myself however for mostly getting useful purchases. I bought five or six different sale fabrics for backings, a savings down the road when I make the quilts. And just a teensy bit of this and that in the nonsale fabrics. I couldn't resist getting a yard of this really neat print, apparently it's for Quilt for a Cure, bright blue background with ladies dancing all over the top.

Lisa is doing a quilt for Quilt for a Cure. I brought her down an entire basket of pink fabrics to use for her project and i was feeling quite smug at having lightened my stash by that much. I guess not, as I'm bringing back at least that much more in new fabric.

What can I say - I am an "ah-teest", I must have my colors to create.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Since I'm still in San Diego, I'm still photo free, but I've managed to get a few things done. Spent most of yesterday sitting at the Navy Hospital waiting for Joe to be poked, prodded, X-rayed, and interviewed all over again by the doctors who will oversea... haha, Navy, oversea.... I mean oversee the rest of his recuperation. So, while he did that, I sat in the waiting room and finished my novel. And then I finished the second section of my poncho. Yah! I would have had time to start a new one, I had the yarn with me, but I decided to make some scarves instead of more ponchos with the rest of the yarn and I didn't have the right size needles for a different project.

I was going to surprise all the "girls" in the family with these ponchos, but my bubble was burst when my mom said she wouldn't wear something like that. So I came clean with my DIL and asked Lisa if she'd like one. She said, yeah, she'd wear one. So, I'll finish up the two I made, one for me, one for her, and then I'll switch to boring scarves with the other colors. Don't want to take a chance of making something no one wants to wear. I'm gonna put all sorts of danglies and sparklies on mine, make it up really unique. I'm excited about it - hope it comes out the way I'm envisioning it in my head.

The last day of my visit here with my son and DIL, Lisa and I are going to do some quilting perhaps and then later go to a big quilt shop. What had been planned as our vacation turned into a helping visit, but today everything is done that can be done for now and so we can relax and enjoy a bit. There's an art quilt show in La Jolla, but I doubt I can talk her into that. She's still only interested in traditional quilting. Which is just fine. I like traditional quilting too. And how can I complain when I have a DIL who shares the quilting addiction. But don't worry, I'm working on her. Slow and steady. Someday she too will be corrupted. Mwahahahahaha.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm coming to you live from warm, sunny San Diego. Down here visiting/helping my son and DIL as dear son decided to jump out of an airplane and break his back. They flew in late last night from a hospital in Georgia, and this morning they both look exhausted from a week of trying to sleep in a hospital and a long day of travel yesterday.

Yesterday, William and I had the day to ourselves, so we went to Balboa Park to walk around and snoop in the museums. William and I both had nothing for breakfast, we complained of either a sore ankle or hip, and unfortunately that combined with a teenager's view of art (you've seen one museum, you've seen'em all) meant we gave up after a few hours.

For those of you not familiar with, nor ever had the pleasure of, Balboa Park is a huge complex of museums, gardens, open air, exhibits, architecture, playgrounds, paths, wooded areas, auditoreums.... and let's not forget the home of the world famous San Diego Zoo. It's a city unto itself in some ways. There's no way to do it all in one full swoop.

Yet, despite dealing with a less then enthusiastic kid (he's usually a good sport, or even quasi-interested, so I wasn't too annoyed at him) and my own flagging energy, I really enjoyed the afternoon. They have this marvelous system where every Tuesday of the month several different museums are free to the public. This Tuesday the Museum of Natural History was one of them, and that's where we started off, and it was the museum William enjoyed most. Along with the dinosaur bones and exhibit on DNA and another on wildfires, the whole top floor held three art exhibitions - one was photography of rocks and minerals, another a nature photographer, and the third an artist who works in glass. The rock photography (it wasn't just photography - they didn't give any information on how it was done, but it looked like photography that had been turned into watercolor or acrylic, but not - hard to tell) was particularly cool as there were many agate images. I love rocks, particularly agates.

We also hit another art museum, not the big one unfortunately, and the beautiful botanical gardens full of orchards and other tropical and semi-tropical plants. Even just walking around the grounds and through the open courtyards and sculptures and plazas and fountains was inspiring.

I've discovered that William is not a good photography companion. When he walks, he likes to keep walking. At a steady pace. He does not like to stop every ten or twenty feet to take photos of bas relief or interesting root systems or the way the light is playing on a particular wall or the repeating pattern of light and dark down a tunnel of archways. Sigh. He'll only put up with if for so long before I end up getting a crabby kid.

Later we ended up down along the water to see boats and walk around a bit in Seaport Village, enjoying a bit of tourist shopping and the harbor, seagulls, kites, etc. Both there and back took us through different parts of downtown San Diego. I adore architecture viewing in big cities. Old buildings, new buildings. Especially the old buildings, if truth be told, and yet there's something about the new buildings as well. What I like about new buildings is that someone took the time to make a sculpture on that scale and oh, it just so happens it's also a building.

I like the sidewalks and the street signs and the murals and the way the sun and shadows creep from side to side through the city canyons and the people and the sidewalk cafes and the.... the... the ENERGY. While part of me was busy dodging buses and pedestrians another part of me was still thinking about how I'd seen more art that day, intentional and unintentional, then I usually see in months. And I was pondering why is that, because certainly one can make art anywhere. People go to the country to make art. Georgia O'Keefe for example.

But although you can make art in the country, can you sell it? Can you share it? Can you intermingle with other artists? Un poco. But it's difficult. You really have to make an effort at it. In the city, it's just a constant, it's a palpable zing in the air, part of the quality of life that makes up for the negatives like garbage and traffic and noise. It's the ENERGY of the place. The country renews and refreshes you, but a city recharges you like a battery. Fills you up with the need to create.

So, despite a disgruntled teen and despite feeling as if I only got to see the teensiest bit of what there was out there to see, I feel overflowing with ideas and the desire to actually MAKE something. I told William, excitedly, I wanted to go home and "make art"! He asked me why? Strangely, sadly, William currently doesn't really "get" the need to create.

I told him "Because I've seen all this art today and I can't afford to buy it. But I know I have the ability to make it. And at this moment, the awareness that I can make it, makes it feels necessary to make it." He was quiet while he pondered that.

I just hope, knock on wood, that I can hold on to this sense of urgency by the time I get back to my studio.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I joined an monthly art challenge called Simple Still Life and this will be my first month's participation. March's theme is 'Three things the same but different." The starting ideas or photos are due by March 4. Since I will be traveling for the next week, I took some photos today with the hope of working with them in some way later in the month. For now, here are the ones I like the best. I'm not even sure what I want to do with them - play with them in Photo Shop, pastels, fabric, paper....I'll have to ponder that during the long hours I'll be behind the wheel in the coming days.

I'd appreciate any and all comments on them, as a way to jumpstart some possibilities.