Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mending a Broken Heart

I am so excited tonight I will be giving a lecture on the journey of my book, Quilts in the Attic, to Faith Circle Quilters Guild in Downer's Grove, Illinois. I will also be teaching my "Mending Your Broken Heart" workshop on Saturday. I always find it interesting how my workshops seem to go in cycles. I haven't taught this workshop in a couple of years and now it is being requested again. I started making these hearts more than 15 years ago when friends began having heart attacks, divorces, etc. I wanted to send something more than a card so "Mending a Broken Heart" came into being. I love teaching this workshop because people go home with multiple hearts nearly done (sewing down the binding). They also learn to put a complex binding on and they can use the embroidery stitches on their machines and I teach how to make fun rope so that they can hang on a door knob, hospital bed, etc. Looking forward to sharing!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Good Deed and A New Connection

On Thursday while at ClaySpace, a plea went out to fix a broken piece for Clay3 (a national exhibition/competition put on by ClaySpace). Stephanie Lanter's piece, "Invaders," was selected for the show's poster and Stephanie had asked for the piece to be fixed. Since I have been playing with lots of different glues and epoxies and no one else wanted to step up, I did. The piece had eight pieces that needed to be glued. I spent most of Friday working on it and finished today. Last night I had a delightful conversation with Stephanie. Her piece resonated with me since it is all about relationships (i.e. communications) with others and ourselves. When I went to her website and discovered that she is also combining fiber with clay, the connection deepened. Please check out her work. You won't be disappointed.

Several people told me that I was nuts to take on this job. Maybe that is true, but I was able to put it back together. I did this because I know that I would want someone to step up for me if the shoe was on the other foot.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Search of Lost Time

Time flames like a paraffin stove / and what burns are the minutes I live.
                     ― Irving LaytonThe Selected Poems

While creating my second altar, I thought it might be more accurate to call them shrines. When I looked up shrine in the dictionary, the definition was "altar." I think I like the word shrine better. This particular one deals with Robert Field, my father's legal guardian and his marriage late in life (he was nearly 60) to Rachel Knuth (she was 52 or 53 when they married). Ken worried that I am using "real objects" and won't I miss them when my shrines sell. They are just things. Most were things that I retrieved out of the trash when my dad was cleaning out their house. Things are not memories. Things aren't people. If someone purchases my shrines, to me it means the things have found a new home.

Next I am thinking about changing the title of "Secrets" to "In Search of Lost Time." As I go through all the things that I have collected from family members over the years, I keep thinking "if I only knew." So many questions will go unanswered.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Secrets One

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination or forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. - August Wilson

I marvel at how the universe can sometimes make it impossible for you to look away. That is my reality. My dad is dying and not in a nice way but slow and painful way. My friend, Ken Maloney, has asked me to join him in a show at ClaySpace that focuses on where we grew up. So to deal with all the issues/demons, I am making art. I decided to do a series of alters which I am calling "Secrets." This one is "Secrets One: The Adopted Grandmother." The alters are made from clay and the contents are from different people in my life growing up. Now that I have finished the first one based on my adopted grandma Rachel, I am anxious to continue. The healing has hopefully began.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trying to Keep a Light Heart

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
 Kahlil Gibran

I have spent the last several days writing an article for Quiltposium, an online magazine, on long-term teaching. It felt good to be writing again. During the breaks from writing, I have been making lots of Valentine's. To keep the blues away, I have been focusing on love and humor. The only sewing I have done lately is to make a cell phone bag that can be Velcroed to my dad's bed rail. His cell phone is his lifeline right now. He uses it to get my mom and connect with the outside world. I have no idea if what I made will work.  I gave it my best shot. Down and dirty, I wanted to get it in the mail today and ended up having to chase the letter carrier down because I just missed him at my house. At least he laughed when he saw me running towards him with envelope in hand. I hope I gave him a good story to tell. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Point of View

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. -Frank A. Clark

It has been a long time since I have attended a critique session so I was a little nervous about Friday night's session at ClaySpace. Clay is a recent medium for me and I am still very much a newbie. Since I was also in charge of First Friday at ClaySpace, I wasn't even sure I could participate so I grabbed this crow mask without much thought. The group felt that the eyes needed to be shiny. My sculpture teacher, Jon Pacheco, suggested that I use black nail polish. When I went to the grocery store on Saturday, I was able to find some on clearance for 89 cents! It is amazing how this little change made a huge impact. I also learned how to tell if a piece is under fired (your tongue will stick) and indeed, this piece was under fired which explains why the beak looks the way it does. I loved the serendipity that occurred by the under firing and because this is an art piece and not a functional piece, it's all good. Hopefully it will sell.  And because I know I will be asked if I don't include it, the mask is 6" w x 10"h.

I think the critique session at ClaySpace was good because Ken Maloney, who was leading did a great job, and the people attending were caring and giving. I know I spent time explaining to people before the event that a critique is not about ridicule and denigration. In our culture, the term "criticism" has acquired negative connotations so I understand people's apprehension about having their work critiqued. I found a few definitions about criticism that I found particularly useful. Edmund Feldman, noted art education, defines criticism as "Participation in informed talk about art." I think "informed" is the key word here. Morris Weitz, philosopher, defines criticism as "The use of words to facilitate understanding art." "Facilitate" is the key word here.

Saturday night, no one's work was deemed bad. Solutions to problems were freely given. Ken also asked each of us to share a favorite artist. So the session was also about learning a little more about the artists who make up ClaySpace. For me, the community is one of the best reasons to be involved.  I am anxiously awaiting next month's critique session on March 7. And once again, the gallery will be open and refreshments will be served.

Have you participated in a critique session? If so, what was your experience?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog Give-Away- With a Twist Rethought

Several people have emailed and Chiska even commented that they would love to join me but cannot do 10. Okay! I'll change the rules and make it easy. I'll do 10. You decide how many. This is all about putting joy out there in the world in the form of a small piece of artwork. Sound more doable?

Pay It Forward 2014

I will send a small piece of artwork, sometime in 2014, to the first 10 people who comment on this, saying they are in. In return, you must post this on your Facebook page or blog, and send a piece of artwork whatever number you decide. You don't send to me, unless I comment on your post as you have done on mine.

It may be something quite small, like a postcard or trading card size. Or you may send a piece as large as you like. The only rules are: 

1. You must post a Pay it Forward on your own Facebook page and/or blog
2. You must send a a piece of artwork during the year. 
3. And you must send me a link to your post.

Remember, you must tell me you are in! Any other comment doesn't count. I will need your address (send by email so it's private).

Doesn't this sound like fun? Are you in? 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Everything is fabric, clothing to the very end. Everything turns to dust, but dust is just an extreme covering; it envelops everything. 
            -Mario Peniola, "Between Clothing and                                             Nudity"

This morning brought two emails concerning my playing with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. The juxtaposition of these emails has given me lots of food for thought.

The first email was from a person who did not like what I was doing. Wasn't I concerned with how "permanent" (her quote marks), my piece would be? Considering that I am dealing with my dad dying right now, the question seemed easy to answer. "Nope." But, to be honest, it would probably have been my answer regardless. Her next question was, "How can you lead people in this direction?" This stumped me. I don't know if I am leading anyone. I am simply sharing. If I can get one person to play and experiment, it's a good day.

The next set of emails came from Liz Broussard of Houston, Texas, and made my day. Liz generously shared all her experiences with playing with and teaching this technique. Her suggestion to use a q-tip for more control which was immediately put to use (around the outside edges of the feather fabric). I look forward to sharing more with Liz. Thanks Liz!

So play, experiment, make mistakes (lots of them), learn, grow, throw caution to the wind! What do you have to loose?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Permanent Markers and Rubbing Alcohol Explorations

Today I continued playing with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. I decided to see if I could do a drawing and see what happens. The inspiration for my first piece of inspiration was a feather I found and keep in a bowl on a table in my family room next to my couch where I sit. It was interesting to discover that the black Sharpie did not bleed much. Not sure why. I do like the effect.

For my next piece, I used three different permanent blue markers- Sharpie, Bic Mark It, and a Sukura Identi Pen- because they were each a different color blue. The blue Sharpie ran the most.  And once again the black did not run much. Too much fun! Going to continue playing and I think these will end up in little quilts. What are you doing to keep the winter blues at bay?

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Funk List

In my journal, you will fins a list of things that I would like to explore when I am in a funk. They are things that I think will help me be playful and hopefully that playfulness will get me out of my funk. It has been a while since I have had to reach into my funk list but today was one of those days. The power went out, the Internet was down, another snow storm is expected, my crow for my sculpture crashed to the floor and shattered, and my dad is going to have hospice when he gets out of the hospital. There's more but you get the idea--FUNK with capital letters.

Playing with Sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol on fabric seemed like the easiest thing to do. I had no real plan. I just started scribbling. I couldn't find the instructions I thought I saved so I just flew by the seat of my pants. I poured the rubbing alcohol onto the fabric, rubbed it a little and left it to dry. The second piece I decided to try iron dry and got a nice plate mark on it. The ideas started to flow! Tomorrow I plan to try less free form and a more controlled drawing. More importantly, once again my funk list saved me. What would be on your funk list?