Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Serendipity Strikes Again

I've always loved life, and I've never known what's ahead. I love not knowing what might be round the corner. I love serendipity. -Twiggy

I was cleaning out my studio and came across a bunch of fabrics that would be good for faces. This is something the women in Los hilos de la vida/Threads of Life, a quilt cooperative in Northern California, were often in need. My gut told me for quite a while that the group had disband, but I didn't want to believe it. It was time and sure enough funding had dried up and the group had disband. Molly Johnson Martinez, the founder and director, hopes to start a similar project in another county in the future. However, here's where it gets interesting. A week later, Peggy Hazard contacted me about Los hilos because her paper on the Migrant Quilt Project was accepted for the American Quilt Study Group's 2016 seminar and she couldn't find contact information. Peggy needed a photograph. I love how the universe works when you listen and act. Sharing with Peggy brought back some great memories and I am glad when my need to purge computer files that I did not purge the one of Los hilos. But I am also sad because the cooperative helped so many women and now there is a void. I am thankful that the group will live on forever through the 35 interviews with Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project so all is not lost. This is all so bittersweet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kiln Gods Were Not Kind

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. - Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

I took up ceramics to exorcism a past experience that caused me to give up my love of clay. Most of the time, I feel I have released the past, but at other times I wonder why anyone would ever want to use ceramic as a creative endeavor. There are so many variables especially in a cooperative. I will admit that partly it was my fault. I love playing with different clays. I was told that a new brown clay that come into the studio was extremely easy to use and that it played well with our glazes. I was told that I could get a nice blue, which was what I needed. The gallery I am in requested that I recreate the two masks that had sold. Not something I usually do, but with an unemployed husband this was not an option. So the first image are the masks that were made from the new brown clay done with the exact same glaze and done on the same day. It's a go figure. None of the experts can give me a definitive answer.

There was a time in my life where the voice in my head would have said, "You're no good. You should just give up." The voice is still there, I just don't listen. And while I don't like the idea of starting over, I feel blessed that I can. I also know I won't be using the new brown clay. Lesson learned! Have you done any exorcisms of your own?

By the way, one of my best activities that I have done at ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center was an evening where I got people to create kiln gods that protect our kilns. Here is mine.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World

I stumbled upon Catherine McKinley's book Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World at my local library and while I have not finished it I would like to recommend it. This is not a history book but instead a memoir that contains the history of indigo especially the Gold Coast of Africa. It is beautifully and eloquently written (I admire good writing.). I have been drawn to memoirs lately so this was a bonus find for me. If you do read it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ideas and Multiple Discovery

Ideas are like rainbows. If the conditions are right and paying attention, you are rewarded.

I got an email from someone I don't know who I have decided is concerned for me (attitude is everything) even though she feels I have "stolen" an idea from someone. I have been teaching "my" quilt-as-you-go technique internationally for more than 20 years. I readily admit that I did not invent quilt-as-you-go and my version is also based on my love of strip and scrap quilts. I simply put it all together in my own way. About five years into teaching "Bending Quilt-As-You-Go," someone asked if I knew of Ann Bauer's work, which I had not. She said that while our work was similar in construction (quilt-as-you-go), she also noticed differences. From that point on, I avoided Ann's work (sorry Ann, just did not want to be influenced). I also suspect that this might be what the email is referring. Although I cannot be sure because the email does not share the "who."

Multiple discovery- a term used in the scientific community whenever two or more scientists in different parts of the work come up with the same idea at the same time- is something I think also occurs all the time in all fields. One example from the quilt world involves Kathy Schmidt and Rayna Gillman who were both working on books about "no rules" or "free-form" quilting at the same time. I believe that ideas are out there floating around looking for people who are open to them (see my quote). Ideas are limitless. We just have to be open and do the work.

My technique was born because I wanted people to keep making quilts. I kept hearing about too many UFOs, not being able to master machine quilts, but not having the funds to pay for quilting, etc. I can remember the day the idea came to me and how I could not sleep until I figured it out. I love those magical moments that don't happen often enough, but just enough to keep me working. My technique is now being used to create unique shoes in Georgia (country not state).  An artist in Almaty continues to make a living selling potholders using my technique. It makes me happy because creating is a good thing.  So what ideas have sprung up into your head?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I am back to lots of handwork. It grounds me. It also uses the indigo piece that I have had on my design wall for more than a year. Time to use it! So my question to you is, do I use the butterfly or not? Thanks for your input.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Letting Go- SteamFast SP-660

I remember a wonderful conversation about letting go with Arline Crowley. She has a story in my book Quilts in the Attic called "History Returned. "I heard people say that when they got older, they started giving things away. I just thought that was nuts until I turned seventy-two, and now I understand." I am not seventy-two but I do feel a strong need to clean out items I am simply not using. I have a lightly used SteamFast SP-660 with manual, pressing pad and water container for filling the water tank. Retails for $249.99 and I am asking $100. It is great for pressing large pieces of fabric. A friend uses her to fuse. I am willing to ship for the actual cost of shipping. 

With gratitude,


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Everyone Needs a Hand Now and Then

People who wonder whether the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable. -Anonymous

To say that this year has not going as planned is to put it mildly. I have decided to consider it a sad Country Western song that will have a happy ending. I am healthy again and more hopeful. The dead Kindle and furnace have been replaced and fixed. The broken work is being recreated. Time to get moving and make up for lost ground. To let go (looks to be the theme for my year) of what did not happen and focus on the moment. I continue to be a process person--it's a journey.

Jasper Johns's quote from one of his notebooks dating from the early 1970s really says so much about how I feel:

To give up
To do the work
To doubt that the work needs doing?
At any rate, time passes.
A clear object.
An unclear object.

To begin to do.
A way to begin.
(which might or might not include a way to end.)

On a lighter note, I love exchanges and have missed doing them so I suggested to two friends--Linda Edkins Wyatt and Marie Z. Johansen that we use our hands to create art. The left hand (the one closest to our heart) will be used for a round robin. For mine, I did simple watercolor so that Linda and Marie could add to you then I decided that I would create a book so there are also blank pages. For my gift (right hand) one, I am creating something out of clay. My first attempt got knocked over and broken. While disappointing, I try to remind myself that I can always create more and this attitude is a must when it comes to creating with clay. There are times when I honestly wonder why anyone would work in an art that has so much outside our control. Since I was trying a new technique, I think my second attempt will actually be better. Practice does make perfect (or at least better). Linda was on the ball. I share her "Seek" with you. You can also read her thoughts on our hand project on her blog.

Here's to making it a great day! And hoping that your new year is going well.