Sunday, February 25, 2007

I told you I'd get some photos of of what I've been working on in the studio. Here are some more of the blue/green Ohio Stars I've been working on. I put them all together here with the ones I already showed you so, two sets you've seen before, three sets are new. Not a very good photo as I had to use a flash and it washed out the colors. And just for the record, that dark spot on the floor isn't dirt, it's a permanent stain left over from when this was a teenager's den of who-knows-what activities. I'm thinking I like them on point like this

This is my sewing machine table. You can see another project I'm working on in the middle of it, my first attempt at making a doll without a pattern. This is about as much as I can bring myself to show it to you. I'm just winging it, it's not coming out the way I expected, and I've changed directions on the details I want to add three times already. I don't like the beginning of the learning curve, it's painful for me to struggle through that whole "reinventing the wheel" bit - but I decided if I didn't jump in, I'd never get past it to the funner part. (Funner?)

The last thing I've been working on has been cutting out floral blocks. I've accumulated quite a pile of strips.

And here are the blocks themselves. To the left are two sets of ten blocks each, one set of light prints, a second set of dark prints. All florals. To the left are two more sets of ten light prints each and two more sets of ten dark prints each. Sixty prints in all. I was going to spread them all out for you to see but after doing two sets I decided that was too much work. You'll have to be surprised at all the different prints I've used. There are no duplicates.

I keep changing my mind on what to do with these blocks as well. They're currently 9" squares. Originally I was going to just make a simple charm quilt out of smaller charms, maybe 6" each. Then I decided I liked the softness of the floral prints combined with the sharpness of triangles, so I cut the charms larger so I could cut them into half square triangle blocks or hourglass blocks.

Then tonight I looked at them and thought maybe it'd be more fun to do a mix and match "crazy quilt" block. I don't know the name of the technique but basically you carefully line up a stack of blocks, not too many, just enough so you can still rotary cut through them. Cut through them in wonky and somewhat random directions. Then mix and match the prints with each other and sew them back together so that each block looks like a crazy quilt block. Do the same with the next stack. And so on. Anyone know a name or website that shows this type of project?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I've been working in the studio all this last week - yes I have! But I don't have anything to show you yet as all my projects are "in process". I could show you bits of cut out this or that, but it might be pretty boring. Better to wait until things are at least recognizable as something. Photos are forthcoming, I promise.

In the meantime, I've also been on a photo taking kick, for the sheer pleasure of taking photos. I've been going on long walks and bringing my camera. Even when a busy schedule or cold and wind has made me forego the walking, I've found no end of interesting scenes that have compelled me to pull over to the side of the road and "click".

A lot of what I've been photographing is junk. I mean, literally, junk. Junk has always fascinated me. Big junk, little junk, junk shops, junk yards, little junk found on the sidewalk (for some inexplicable reason when I was in Edinburgh I kept finding pearl buttons on the sidewalk), collectible junk, "mhhhmmmm, what-can-I-make-out-of-THAT" junk. Here is some of the junk I've photographed in the last few weeks.

I certainly don't think people should be abandoning vehicles willy nilly, but sometimes, when an old truck or car has been left long enough - covered in vines, rusting in the desert like old bones, it becomes part of a place. These long abandoned vehicles look like old dinosaurs exposed in the layered time of the river's embankment.

Just an old bumper, but to me, here it looks like the fin of an old whale, flung against the sky.

Old metal boxes - I simply liked the muted block of colors.

An old hubcap? Or a giant button sewn into the tree?

How many ghosts, memories, shadows, conversations, stories did this bus pick up on it's journey before being forgotten by all but field mice and curious photographers?

Old treasures found and lined up to catch the evening sun. From the outside, they're dusty bottles in a window. From inside looking out, I bet they sparkle like stained glass.

Just a cut off piece of plastic piping in the gutter, the red color makes it the most interesting object on the road. I kicked it down the street for three blocks and then hung it over a picket on my front yard fence.

I'm obviously not the only person who is enamored of junk. Think of shoe trees and muffler men, gardens full of old toilets and bed frames. Junk is not only interesting in it's own "evironment" (if it wasn't for junk, cultural archeologists would have a much tougher time trying to work out the lives of ancient peoples), but people like to transform junk into all sorts of things, including art.

I went in search of a few junk websites and discovered I'd lost an entire afternoon following a trail of junk through the internet. If you're interested in taking a cyber-hike of your own, you'll have no lack of paths to investigate, but here's a few links just to get you started.

Steve Oatway, Junk Artist - I like the way you click on each door to view his galleries.

Here's a short article that captures the feel and appeal (at least to me) of entering a junk store.

And here's a fascinating site where you can pic and choose what kind of junk you want to look at!

This isn't all junk, but a lot of these folk art shrines and creations started with someone's love of junk. Check out the Cathedral of Junk.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I haven't been back in the studio since my last post, but I have been taking a lot of photographs. It compliments the walking I've been trying to find time for lately. In the long gray pre-spring period we have here in the mountains, it helps to get outside even if the weather isn't luring one out.

I have too many photos to show them all, so I decided to narrow it down and show you only those with a "green theme" today. There's not a whole lot of green in nature itself yet, so the green in other things calls to me.

Will it be..... Door No. 1? Door No. 2? or.... Door No. 3?! Wasn't that from the old Price is Right show?

This turquoise could go blue or green. Let's call it green here.

Show turquoise with moss green and it reads more blue.

I fell in love with these old green doors.

I could have gone through my older photos and found a zillion green images in shots of summer gardens or nature. Maybe I'll make one of those flicker composite photos some day with a green theme. Maybe I'll work my way through the color wheel. The other day I was driving around in the rain noticing red too. And on one recent walk I subconsciously took all yellow photos.

Not only do I want to print out a few of these photos as they are, I'd like to use them as the basis for some collage work. I tried to work on that the other day and found it too frustrating to do on the computer with only Appleworks for cutting and pasting. I've got a CD for Photo Shop, just don't know if I should fill up my laptop memory with such a large piece of software, and our other computer and the desk space it occupies, are both in such desperate need of housecleaning that I don't even want to go over in that vicinity for fear of a paper avalanche or a monitor crash. Hubby has taken it over and I don't even know my way around it anymore.

Anyway, for now, I've decided what I really want is the experience of doing it the "old fashioned" way, with paper and scissors and glue. So that takes me back to decluttering and organizing again so I can have all my materials in one place. I did work on gathering them up a bit the other day. To quote Bill Murray's character in What About Bob? - "Baby steps."

In the meantime, anyone else want to take a shot at a green post on their blog? I'm sure it's not an original idea, someone must have suggested it before, I just haven't bumped into it anywhere. Maybe you can up the difficulty factor and not use any plant images for your green. Is Kermit right? It's not easy being green? I bet Elphaba would agree. Okay, so I cheated with that one moss picture. Maybe I'll do green again some day. If you do a Green Theme post, leave a comment letting me know so I can come see it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Three nights in a row! I worked in the studio three nights in a row! How cool is that!

I sewed these last night for a group project.

And I cut these out last night and sewed them tonight. Two more for my blue and green quilts.

I also cut out three more sets of blue and green blocks. Maybe not the most fascinating quilt blocks in the world, but the fabrics are pretty and at least I'm sewing, so bear with me please. I'll awe you with more pics of those when I get them sewn up.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My studio has been out of reach for months. First there were the holidays, guests. My studio is also the guest room. Then my daughter and her three kids were camped out in there. Three children equals LOTS OF STUFF - so even if there had been time to hide away, everything was hidden under diapers, suitcases, portacribs and futons. She's been gone for several weeks now, but I finally, last night, dug out from underneath the flotsam and jetsam of visitors, and set up my table, sewing machine, and cutting board.

The set up took most of the Grammy Award Show. But I did manage to finally get a small thing done. These two Ohio Star blocks, which I've had cut out since.... August!? Yes, it was August because I cut them out while my daughter-in-law was up visiting and that was August. Geeze, I thought it had only been since last autumn. It was last SUMMER! Cripes!

Anyway, here ya go. They're pretty. Very traditional. A few years ago I fell in love with several floral blue and green prints and I immediately knew I wanted to do a traditional Ohio Star quilt in scrappy blue and greens for our bed. Let's not discuss the fact that the very first quilt top I ever made, is still languishing unfinished (I thought it would be fun to hand quilt it) in a bag in my closet.

I'll show you new blocks as I make them. There will be two of each block, to make two identical quilts - or maybe not completely identical, but similar - because I have a SECRET PROJECT planned for the second quilt. We'll see if I ever manage to finish even one quilt.

I might go work on something else. Maybe not even a fabric something else. I've been itching to do something creative for about a week or so now. Every time I got excited about starting something, I remembered that all my supplies were inaccessible or stored in a really, really, really cold room. That was usually enough to make me decide to get a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie instead.

But the other problem was although I was enthused about creating something, I was, still am, completely confused as to what that something should be! I have a half dozen different projects that appeal to me at the moment, but they all require me to take off in different directions.

I'm gonna go do something now. Creative. Not sure what it will be even as I go walk off to do it. But whatever it is, better then standing here at the crossroads any longer.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I went for a walk.

Down the tracks.

Over a bridge.

I saw birds. A couple yippee dogs. Some cats. Domestic. No mountain lions, thank goodness.

There's not much color in February.

Even with a limited palette, there's beauty in the details.

Is this like an elephant's burial ground?

Wouldn't it be nice to be a kid again some days?

Sometimes things are still beautiful even when they're past their prime.

All the way to the top of town.

Hey, they really DO fly!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

When I was in my early twenties, fresh out of a college art degree - okay, let's not put on airs, shall we - a two year art degree that I fell half a class short of actually receiving - I had the opportunity to go into commercial art. It was for a company that designed and printed labels, signs,whatever the customer wanted.

Unfortunately for me, the design room was simply a squared off corner in the same warehouse that the printing machinery was housed in. It was very, very loud. I only lasted a week. I'll never know what uncharted direction my life might have gone off on if the artists had a decent room in which to work.

I found myself thinking of that today as I walked up main street of our small town on the way to pick up my car after an oil change, armed with sunshine and my camera. I walked into a small family owned corner market that I've never managed to enter in over a decade of living here and discovered rows of wonderful and quirky wine for sale. I spent a good long while enjoying the "wine art".

This one is just nice. I mean, it's really gnarly, man.

You can't really see the art work on all of these bottles of mead - well you probably can if you click on it to make the image larger - but I included them anyway out of friendship. A couple I
know own this company, Mountain Meadow Mead. They are great people and their meads regularly win awards.

Still enamored of all things French, I had to include this cute little one.

What's the story behind the selection of this name!? Bad boy makes good - wine? It's even more amusing to find it on the shelf here, being a "prison" town.

Maybe not as unusual as some of the other labels, but since hubby loves monkeys, I had to include it.

My mom loves mooses.... meeses.... moose? But one has to wonder, did they go blind from drinking too much wine? And don't miss the tasteful white label on the left with the gold hippopotamus and the classy name - Fat Bastard.

This is, hands down, my favorite. I need to go back with my wallet and buy some of this and save it for when I have "one of those days".

Simple, colorful, eyecatching. But you wonder what they were smoking that they decided to name their winery Fish Eye. I'll have the cabernet salmon please. My friend will have a sweet Perch.

Well, yes, it is. Let's call a spade a spade. I'll have some smashed grapes with my seared dead cow please.

This last attempt looks a bit inebriated. I guess the camera had a few too many wine photos in it hold steady any longer.

Not surprisingly, now I feel like having a glass of something smooth and alcoholic m'self. I think I'll go polish off that last little bit of spiced mead in the refrigerator, left over from the holidays.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I finished my new scarf a couple of nights ago, getting pictures posted finally. I gave up on using the multi-color wool yarn I showed you a few posts back (I'll use it for something else), when I discovered this fuzzy yarn that was PERFECT for my jacket. Since it was all about being warm and fuzzy, I just knit it up without fanfare on size 10-1/2 needles and it came out just right. At first I thought I'd made it too wide and I wouldn't have enough yarn to make it as long as I wanted, but it turns out it thins and stretches when I wear it, so, like I said, PERFECT.
Here's a somewhat smudgy photo of me wearing the jacket and scarf. I guess I need to clean the bathroom mirror. Heh.

And here's a close up so you can see how fuzzy it is and why it's perfect - it's dark pink show up on the light pink, but it has this little light pink secondary thread that is the same color as the jacket.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Yesterday I stopped by the local library to order an interlibrary loan book and discovered that a whole bunch of books had been taken out of circulation and put on sale. Fiction - fifty cents for softcover, a dollar for hardcover. Cookbooks, art, and history books, apparently less important, were priced three for a dollar. That strikes me as sad, but still, my gain. I bought a whole box of books yesterday and blogged about it over on Beach Treasure. If you want to see the whole shebang, go on over and check it out. But the art books, I saved to post here.

I bought a half dozen old art books. Let me restate that - old art books. I emphasize that so you won't gasp in horror when I say that I plan on using them mainly as altered books or to mine the images and photos for use in altered books and collage work. (of course, if you're worried about books getting cut up, you can sigh in relief that I bought them because they're
probably safer with me, currently in the midst of a creative block, then they'd be with anyone else)

One of these has a broken binding, but the other one is still sturdy. I bought them for the beautiful gold embossing that covers the bindings and both the front and back covers. You can see it really well if you click to enlarge the photo. There are some neat art images inside as well.

There was a book filled with black and white photos of abandoned homesteads of Nevada. I looked through it, was about to put it back on the shelf, when I came across this photo. It's hard to see this small (again, click on it), but it's very haunting. Old peeling wallpaper covered, covered, and covered some more with religious images. I added the book to my toppling stack to bring home with me.

Another book I brought home was filled with Owl Art. Say that three times fast - owl art owl art owl art. I have a love/hate fascination with owls at the moment - I think they're fascinating, but I'm also afraid they want to eat my dog. Since I'm pretty sure I'm just paranoid about that last bit, I thought the images are pretty cool.

Another coffee table sized book was called Roman Art in Africa and was filled with all sorts of crumbling columns and half missing statues. How intriguing is this screaming dude?!

Hey, maybe I'll be inspired to actually dig out the rest of my supplies and and scissors and.....

mwahahahahaha! Books beware!