Friday, August 30, 2013

Gathering Grief Quilt

I am my own worst enemy when I think too much. In order to get moving on "Gathering Grief," I simply began and let the work speak for itself. I used a variety of textile paints and lots of cheese cloth.

Except for the stitching around the red, I plan to hand stitch the quilt with pearl cotton. If you look closely you will see the beginnings. There was going to be a hole in the middle, but I decided do reverse applique for stability. I actually like the way it looks.

It feels good to working on this quilt. As I work on this quilt, I think about the people I have lost recently and I am thinking about my next part of this series- "Gathering Joy."

I continually contemplate and journal what else I am gathering and whether or not I can create more for this series. I don't think I have been as excited about a series in a very long time.

My sculpture class begins on September 13. I am really excited and cannot wait for it to begin. I am sure I will find inspiration.  Wishing you an inspiring weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gathering Grief

I took a chance with the clay part of "Gathering Grief" and it worked! I used a mason stain because I did not want the piece to be shiny or have a solid color. I am not sure I could have made another piece if it had not turned out. I had not seen anyone use mason stains at ClaySpace so I had no idea what it would look like once it came out of the kiln. I just trusted the universe.

There has been a lot of loss this summer so I thought creating this piece would be easy. It has not. The quilt part is still giving me fits. Since I want to enter this in a gallery show, the fast approaching deadline should help me get focused and push through too may ideas! How do you deal with too many ideas?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pushing the Limits of My Comfort Zone

I continue to push the limits of my comfort zone. First, I have been writing again. Real Simple magazine is having their sixth annual Life Lesson Essay Contest. You are to answer the question, "What is the bravest thing you have ever done?" I am writing about my first trip to Georgia. People have continually told me that I need to write a book on my adventures. This is helping me decide if this is something I can and want to do. Vote is still out. And no, it won't be determined by whether or not my essay is chosen. I know that it's a long shot if for no other reason than the confusion over the country.

I've been doing a lot of cleaning. My husband was teasing me about my "productive procrastination" until he read "The problem with writing was expressed well by the writer, Ernest Hemingway. A reporter once asked Ernest Hemingway what he did first when he was beginning a new book. Hemingway responded "First I defrost the refrigerator.""

I am also continuing to challenge myself with clay. My morning walks are usually along the DuPage River. For several days, I spent time watching an egret fish which became my inspiration. Since I am also trying to combine fiber with the clay as often as I can, I made the wings and other details out of fiber then added other fun items I had hanging around. The beak got broken along the way (this happens when so many different people are involved in the process) so the rope and hanging crystal hide the break. Now you know a secret. Shh. Don't tell.

He was created in four pieces because he would be too large otherwise to fit in the kiln. And because my friend Marti will remind me if I don't share, he is 30 inches tall. I guessed on the shrinkage (the clay I use shrinks by 12%) and was floored that he fit back together! The planets must have been aligned!

The poem "Egret" by Mary Oliver is carved into the blue box that he stands on. This remains one of my favorite pieces.  He sits in my family room.  I keep hoping inspiration will strike again and I can create something similar.

How are you pushing the limits of your comfort zone?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Struggle, Struggle: Eva Hess

Simple drawing is almost like meditation for me. Unfortunately, it did not accomplish what I had hoped which was inspiration for a quilt on Eva Hesse (1936-1970). This is for an exhibition with my group, CLAW (Crossing the Line: Artists at Work), and as the "fearless leader" I can't not create something at least interesting. There is no one to blame either.

I discovered Eva while in college. I was creating a lot of art that dealt with motherhood and abortion (not legal at the time). I had a couple of friends die from illegal abortions so it weighed heavily on my mind. It was such a struggle because I so strongly wanted to be a mom.  Anyway, my professors (all male) hated my work- "too female," "no one will take you seriously," etc. Eva was my savior.

While Eva used unconventional materials, she also incorporated weaving, wrapping, sewing and knitting, all those things considered "women's work," into her pieces. There is a sense of playfulness and wit in her pieces. She called it "weird humor" which relates to her view that life is absurd.

I did find a quote that I think I would like to use if it works: "I want to be surprised, to find something new. I don't want to know the answer before but want an answer that can surprise."

She also did not come into her own until she was separated from her husband and met a group of artists who rallied around her. For the first time she felt accepted as an artist.  Isn't that something we all can relate? It is then that she began to produce an incredible body of work. Unfortunately she died from a brain tumor at 38.

So I clean. I draw. I read about her life.  I play with clay. I take long walks. All the while, struggling to find the place to begin. What do you do when you are struggling to find a way to express something important to you?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Random Thoughts, indigo Over Dyeing and the Life Gives You Lemons Winner

I am the best procrastinator that I know. I get things done just not the things I should be doing. How often do you clean the chair that you work in? I discovered today that mine was totally gross- lots of dust. I feel so much better sitting here writing to you in my amazingly clean chair. Is this really what I should be doing? No. It did make me happy. How do you procrastinate?

This is the last piece I will share with you concerning my last vat of indigo. This piece of raw silk, which I have had in my possession since 1986, was dark beige. I bought it when I was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was going to make a dress out of it until I realized that the color would look terrible on me. I still cannot get over the transformation. It's a really nice blue and the lighter spots are not beige! Yeah!

My houses in memory of my good friend Carolyn Kolzow have been posted on the House Quilt Project's website. Jamie personally delivered the quilts yesterday. I hope they make the wounded military personnel who receive them happy and know that their efforts are appreciated. I have more quilts planned. 

First, I have to say that the entries for my blog giveaway made me hungry. What great suggestions! Thanks to everyone who played and entered. I had to wait until my number generator (my son) got up. I am thrilled to announce that Needled Mom is the winner. I hope she will share how she uses the fabric. I try to do giveaways regularly so look for another one soon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A New Look for Old Fabrics

Sorry about not sharing yesterday the black and white fabrics that I over dyed with indigo. Inspiration struck and I know to answer the call. Here are the black and white fabrics as promised. Isn't it interesting how the different dry goods took the dye? The range of blues is quite exciting. The last one was actually put in the vat at the end and dipped twice. Since I have a large collection of black and white fabrics, I definitely want to do this again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inspiration Struck- No Joking

I was so amazed that my suggested theme, Deck of Cards, for the new round of trades for Postmark'd Art was embraced by more than half the members! This round we are doing the suit of hearts with a joker added. I got the joker! I was so excited because I knew instantly what I wanted to do.  I bought this rubberstamp by All Night Media, Inc. more years ago than I can remember. It took me a while to track it down and I am not even sure the company exists anymore. If I remember correctly Plaid Industries bought them Anyway, inspiration struck and I answered! I am happy with my postcard and it feels good to be done just a couple of days into the trade. Hopefully my playing card will make those who receive them happy. I like the message too! I certainly have had moments lately where I have needed to lighten up. How about you?

I have been asked often why I like making small art. This is especially asked by people who cannot imagine being able to create anything interesting that is small. I think any time we do something often, we get better at it. For me, it is not just about creating but being able to share. By sharing/belonging to exchange groups, I am also exposed to new ideas and different styles. Creating small art is fun, doesn't take a lot of time most of the time and it keeps my creative juices flowing.

This is my contribution to Off the Wall Fridays.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Overdyeing White-on-White Fabrics with Indigo

When I made my vat of indigo I was so focused on dyeing my ceramic piece that I did not think much about fabric or really prepare any fabric. I decided to keep it simple and just play. I started by over dyeing a few white-on-white fabrics. For the most part, I simply scrunched them in my hand and dipped them into the vat. The one on the left I folded repeatedly. Like how the part that was on top came out but the rest was uninteresting.  I really like how the one with the circles came out. Another surprise was how each fabric took the indigo differently. Tomorrow I'll share my over dyeing of black and white fabrics. I can see more of this in my future. What are you exploring lately?

Monday, August 5, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons--Have a Blog Giveaway

I ordered some fabric online and the store sent the wrong fabric. They graciously sent me the correct fabric and told me to keep the other. I just can't see myself ever using it so I am passing it along. The piece is 20" wide. It's from RJR's 2009 Farmer's Market line.

So what do you do when life gives you lemons?

Answer the question (if you don't, you can't win the fabric) and I'll draw a name on Friday. Looking forward to your answers.

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's a Go Figure

I was fortunate to live on the island of Aruba for three years in the mid'80s. The island was full of goats. I have always loved bones and skulls and secretly hoped I would come across a goat skull as a souvenir. As the date to leave got closer and closer, I gave up hope. Then two days before our things were to be packed up for shipping back to the States, I was climbing on some rocks and there was the carcass of a young goat who had broken its leg. I was filled with both sadness and glee. My husband could not believe when I quickly snatched it up, along with a few other bones and rolled it into the bottom of my shirt.

I was looking around for inspiration when I remembered the goat skull and decided to use it as a stepping off place for a mask. It turned out much better than I had anticipated but I never thought I would get the response it when I brought in the finished mask. Five people said that they wanted one! Jeff was the most impressed and asked how much I would charge. I asked if he was willing to trade because I love the things Jeff makes and his curmudgeonly ways. Having a piece of his work would be a wonderful reminder of him.

I am going to digress here for a moment and share the International Society of Curmudgeons' definition of a curmudgeon to give you a better idea of what Jeff is like:

A curmudgeon often has a black sense of humor. They don't just complain about things, they do it with flair, style, panache, satire, and a sardonic view of life! That's what makes them memorable. They also, deep down (very deep down), believe that by saying something about it, life will change. Saying even more about it will hopefully make life change faster and sooner.

Jeff brought in several pieces of his artwork for me to choose and I selected this wonderful turquoise pot which sits on a table in my family room. Jeff felt he got the better of the deal and I thought I got the better of the deal. Who could ask for anything more! Of course, I am still trying to figure out why my goat skull mask was such a hit. When I asked people they just said that it was "different" and "cool." Since many of them watched me create the mask while having the skull in front of me might have contributed. I guess I will never really know and no, I am not making more goat masks.

Your thoughts on why so many fell in love?

This is also my contribution to Off the Wall Fridays.