Saturday, December 10, 2016

DIY or call me.



This is Orion approving of a set of window seat cushions I made for his pleasure.

Tomorrow I'll be taking the featherweight and all other pertinent crap to custom fit some closet drapes at his place. There's no decorating challenge that can't be met with a few yards of store-bought batik.

And you thought I was lolling on a beach somewhere.




Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Annual Crochet fail

Each year, as the chill deepens, I pull out this basket of yarn and start crocheting madly. It's five skeins of Lion brand Homespun. I love the feel of this yarn, working and finished. Soft, cushy and very forgiving of stitch errors. What errors with all that fuzziness going on and a big J hook?

I don't really know how to crochet. It's kind of a spiders-on-acid effect  with more or less "air" depending on my mood.

Over the course of a few hours while watching TV, I cranked out an irregularly shaped piece about a foot square before I had to start work.

By the end of my shift (spent at a keyboard) my right wrist was in fierce pain. Aleve and rest and leave that stuff alone!

Would anyone like some yarn?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shop Keeping

Spent the morning ripping and packing. Fat Baggies were shipped today and I made some unassigned to owners so all I'll have to do is slap on an address and postage.

 I keep wondering if and when I'm going to run out of interesting cloth, then I find another tub out of the closet, start picking and stop wondering. I think they are breeding in there the way wire coat hangers used to when you left two in the front closet.  Believe it or not, these six are identical in source fabrics, that way it's very unlikely that you'll get two pieces of fabric alike in one order. New addition - pieces of a rayon velvet scarf in deep red shading to chestnut from my very first adventures in dyeing.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Charlie Monday


It's a Charlie Monday. We spend the whole day together working it out. He is a delightful tornado of life and love. There is no doing anything else as he expects and deserves total engagement.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Mom's Christmas cactus is struggling. I have to find the right kind of soil and a decent clay pot it can become rootbound in. Any advice from experts would be welcome.

The turkey is in the oven. Our tribe is very small this year. Jake, Missy, and Charlie are over the river and through the woods. Colin has the tail end of the flu so guests were warned off. I could allow for melancholy but there's too much to be thankful for. Balance, even now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Time for work in the studio. Peel a few potatoes and then beck to revisions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

plans change

As small as our Thanksgiving celebration was going to be, it's going to be necessarily smaller. Colin seems to have the flu and I wouldn't want to guess at when he is no longer a danger to people at risk.

I've made some sense of the cloth I have and hand and have started free-piecing a new "Picnic in Hell", but I think I'll come up with a new name for it. It's going to get big and I have no plans on finishing it by Christmas. Sometime in the coming cold months will do just fine.  My phone camera is seeing pink and purple where there is almost none..this is a very warm quilt, colorwise.


Trying to find a balance between writing and working the cloth because the next book will incorporate both.

Friday, November 18, 2016

catching up

 I spent an entire week in a strange city in close proximity with 100+ strangers and ate all manner of food and did not get sick. So much for my Howard Hughes syndrome. I had to go shopping here at home to find a bag of cut-up lettuce that seems to have missed getting washed.

TWO DAYS of Montezuma's revenge later (no pictures, please) I've sworn off lettuce unless I grow it myself. I must be feeling better because I just finished cleaning The Oven That Had Never Been Cleaned and, necessarily, washing the kitchen floor and I'm not laying on the couch. There will be Turkey this year.

Here are a few more random pics from Salem. A lot of the storm drains are fabulously arted up like this to remind people that the ocean is just a few blocks away and the denizens there would rather you didn't dump nasty shit down the drains.

These payphones were in the hotel lobby. I regret not giving one a try. I sat on the bench across from them  for a long time remembering how central these were in my life long ago. Everyone's lives.

They will still work when all the cell service goes down, but they can only call each other and land lines. Will they know how to find each other?
 Do you know any land line numbers?
Mine is 770.925.0138. I might just answer.

I have so many story lines waiting to use the phones. Remember?


This photo was on a shelf in the nook where the grand old dame read my cards. Furio is either one of her regulars or she's a big fan.







And this mess. Just like I left it although I'm going to have to kick it into gear because  there are Christmas gifts to be made.  Onward.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

WUUCON 16



Salem Commons

thanks to everyone who ordered a fat baggie this past week. I've been away at the WUUCON writer's conference in Salem, Ma learning how much I don't know about writing. I'll be filling those orders once I get home and sleep 12 hours straight.

It's been great being in the same boat with a lot of fun and interesting people who are all afflicted with the compulsion to write.

Salem is a unique small town, it's dedication to it's tourism makes for a comfy, friendly, if expensive, vistit.
New England in the fall is everything I remember and love. Tomorrow is the last day and I'll savor every minute.

Mr./Ms.? Tag up there in B&W is the waiting room concierge at Magika where I had a most wonderful and encouraging tarot card reading today. As if I needed the cards to tell me how lucky I was and how I am loved and protected from beyond. Still, how in the heck did she know that Salvador was my first choice for a first name for my first born? Jimmy was not amused and I conceded. Madam Bruno knew.




Saturday, November 05, 2016

shop stuff

All this is one fat baggy about to be packed and shipped. I found another  large tub of exotics!  I'm going out of town for a week, so if you order today, I won't be shipping until the 15th.   You know you want one.   Let me know.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

countdown

Whew. Between family stuff (all good) and getting ready for my trip, my days seem to be about 11 hours long and not much of that for sleep. Excited, is she?

For the first time in my life, I'm not packing the night before I leave. Throwing stuff from one side of the closet to the other and back again. Trying to pack for New England weather even though I don't own (and won't buy) a coat. Ten bucks says I wear the same ratty sweater and jeans all week long.

There was this 

Thought about making and taking a small stitching kit. yes, no? Let it be known that I can actually sew on a button? Bet I'm among the very few who can.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More babyworks





Finally got this boxed up and sent. Fingers crossed that it gets there before Vinny Boombatz arrives, not that he'll care a whole lot one way or another. I know a month from now he'll be dazzled by the colors.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

cloth, get busy!

The cloth for the notebook cover was dyed six years ago! I was working on a series trying to recreate the palettes from some J.W. Turner paintings. They turned out to be so tasty that I quickly hid them away. Nothing is sacred around here anymore when it comes to cloth.


This one, from the same series, was incorporated into one of my favorites...

Monday, October 24, 2016

crossroads updated


 I wanted something special by way of a notebook to take to the conference in two weeks and foolishly bought one of those ponderous 5 star, 5 subject spiral bound things. Once it got here I found that weighs nearly as much as my laptop.

So I'm out getting the usual at the grocery store and picked up an ordinary, soft cover compostion book with an eye toward traveling light.

Later, I was sorting cloth and came across this in my Holy Relics basket. The overall brownish-ness of it made me think of a grocery store paper bag. Then I remebered how we used to dismembered those bags to cover our textbooks. I fiddled with it for a while, remembering how, then put one of the folds on the outside instead of hiding it on the inside, giving it pockets for what-not on the outside. No stitches required, just the press of time and use.

All my sacred, "can't cut into them" cloths are going to become book protectors, born again into Utility.

I anchored the flaps with tails. Just a frill.




Friday, October 21, 2016

Home Improvement time!

This time last year I was celebrating the brand new heating and air system. This year - a badly needed new roof. Who knew how much damage there was up there from wind and hail? State Farm and TruTech knew and I'm a happy camper.

This was the tarped-over view from the studio. A beautiful light.

The crew was here before it was fully light and soon it sounded like a tribe of rabid Sufi's on crack were working it out on the roof. Sweetie and Juicy disappeared for parts unknown and I even bugged out for a couple of hours of quiet.
Their generators bothered me more than the banging, I think.

They finished and cleaned up by five. I'm having some hedge tidying done soon so I'll wait on the after photos. It's a good feeling. I know Jim would be pleased with the work and the outcome - a big boost to the value of our home.
~


I feel Jim's love and protection here as strongly as ever. This was my last birthday gift from him,  taking a few hours of fresh air and sunshine.    10.14.13

Monday, October 17, 2016

it's Charlie Monday

I'll be leaving in a little while to spend the day with him. We went to the park yesterday and he was less impressed with one of the new features than I was but we had a good, wearing-out time, nonetheless.


He's gone from two words to three and now four-word repetitions of almost anything one says. All you have to do is pause and wait for him like a little bell's echo. It's amazing. He still says a lot that I don't get and I worry that it's partly my hearing loss. I don't want to frustrate him or make him think that Nana is a dummy.




The coat project is looking to be a fizzle for this season. I almost never wear a coat anyway. But, I won't pitch it or give it away. Just back burner it and see what comes.  There was some long looking and touching here.






I've been pretty much consumed by the first draft of my book lately. Discovered that the expression "First Draft" actually means "Take a hard look and start over with an axe."

The word is RESOLVE

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

gratitude and the coat project

One of my favorite pictures popped up in FB this morning. I have it as a screen saver on my cell phone. Now that little baby looks at it and says, "Nana and baby Charlie....awww."

The picture comes from an old post that I make a point of revisiting around this time of year, as a gift to myself.

So I started work on that coat. Found a selection of gaudy two-toned rayons that just dazzled me until I'd spent a few hours pinning them up and down one lapel of the coat. I was reminded of the recent spate of evil clown sightings and have changed my mind about using strong color. Back to the baskets.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Saturday, October 01, 2016

coat project #2

 This coat repaving is going to be harder than I thought, not execution-wise. I love free-motion nail-downs. I get on a roll and have to guard against stitching my fingers in.  It's the color/design that is going to be hard to decide on.

I was plucking through my private stash, concentrating, really being critical and found a length of fringed black-fade-to-white linen that stopped me in my tracks.

 Should I go for the B&W graphics to accentuate the elegance of the cut or just go hog-wild with color and admit that I really like the idea of that Holy Elephant only I want to be the artist.

The plan is a great deal of ripping, cutting and pinning and rearranging before I even think of threading the machine.

Friday, September 30, 2016

the coat project

Have you ever tried on a coat or dress and the cut, fit and cloth were just so right that you had to smile? This sucker fits me like it was tailor made.

Then, you looked in the mirror and something about it  just so off. So wrong, but not so wrong that wishful thinking made you buy it anyway.

This garish embellishment runs the length of both sides of the front of the calf-length coat and spans the shoulders. I kinda look like the Maharaja's favorite elephant on a holy day.


I got it from the second-hand store for a pittance so, a rescue attempt began. Got out my handy stitch ripper and started to remove the acres of machine embroider. After an hour, I gave up and tossed the coat into the "be gone" corner of the closet.

A little while ago, I picked it up and tried it on again and got that same "Love Me" glow. Then it occurred to me that nothing would be lost if I tried paving over all this grotesquerie with my own cloth embellishing. The Janome is feeling feisty. I've been fondling my stash and know what I have to work with....what's to lose?

Progress pictures as we roll.................

Sunday, September 25, 2016

small trials

Coming up for air after the worst head cold in memory. For forty-eight hours I was too sick to complain. Grateful to be upright and quasi-functional. I was so grateful for two full and productive days poolside last week  that it didn't matter that I was sneezing and sniffling until I sat down at the computer for the day job and realized that I couldn't talk or make sense of what I was seeing on the screen. Over-medicated much? None of it was making a dent in any of my symptoms and I discovered that more was not better. To bed.

It's past and over. So what used to take 24 hours now takes 48, a concession to age that I'm now willing to acknowledge.

This basket of delights is a fat baggie (picked with gloves and a mask!) that will be flying home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

staycation

I feel a little traitorous to my own slice of heaven out back, but my pool is well on its way back to its off-season pond state and no place to hang out.

This is the pool at the condo where a good friend lives, a few minutes away. It seems like none of the residents are aware that the pool will be kept open as long as the weather permits and it's been hot and sunny. Not sunny enough to get a scorch, but hot enough to make swimming glorious.

The ten-day forecast calls for more of the same, so this is pretty much where I'll be until Fall finally has its way with us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

reflexes, deep and wide

I came upstairs to start revisions on a chapter and instead, just spent twenty minutes burrowing through my private stash searching for the right shade of blue and not finding it.

Remembering that Procion discontinued Bonny Blue and any shreds I had left are gone. used up.

This is nothing more than a thought right now and will probably spin off into vapor, but I was reading my email at the same time and went to answer one. Instead of picking up the mouse, I picked up a spool of blue thread, cut a length and threaded a needle before I realized what I was doing.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

the GO'keefe

Without any conscious decisions along those lines, I've turned a pair of men's Levis into quite the womanly, utilitarian item. The choice of lining and pocket fabrics were really a matter of what was within reach of the sewing chair, I swear.

 In the beginning, there was going to be some embellishment, but when I get done hand setting and stitching the lining into place through all that denim, I can promise you that this one will be finished and ready for action.


Back before the internet, 1988 to be exact, I had a nifty little mail-order business selling detailed instructions for the DIY crowd. I ran little one-inch ads buried in the back of a few craft magazines because that was all I could afford.

Every single day I'd get mail with cash or stamps inside and then next day I would send out my four-page, lavishly hand printed and illustrated instructions for AZZBAGS. I also offered to "Do it for you", but I never had any takers for the service. No surprise, given where I was advertising.

Jeans were a disposable commodity back then, as now, so there was no shortage of cheap raw material. I made hundreds of these bags and other accessories and sold them briskly at craft and art fairs. Those were fun days.


Friday, September 16, 2016

DIY. Satisfaction

I've been looking for a shoulder bag and must have looked at a couple hundred on Amazon. Even bought one... Sent it back today. Solution? It's been many years, but I haven't forgotten the Trick. I did have to go to Goodwill for just the right jeans.    

                    Score!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fall sinks in

It's not the noticeable turn of seasons here the way it is in New England. All of a sudden the media is pushing pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and the like.  I still run the house AC all day. We are in a drought condition, yet it's humid. Just a serious case of blahs, weather-wise. The pool is really pea-soup, not this pretty and I really have to see to some kind of winterizing or we are Club Zika Med out there.


I haven't returned to walking in the park yet for a long, lame list of reasons, chiefly a bothersome callous on one foot that I know is going to require surgery in the future. I will not consider it right now.

Work continues, half-heartedly, clearing up/out the studio. Cloth bundles get shipped, but better...packages arrive. This one, by Jude, is called "Storyteller".
How could I resist him?   I am tempted to take to the river basket. For the first time in months, I'm beginning to consider stitch as therapy. Needful therapy.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Show coming up.

Three of my pieces will be taking the air at The Art Place in Marietta, GA  from Sept.8-29. They will be in some great company!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Critics abound.

The pained expression on Sweetie's face says it all. "When are you going to get that crap out of my chair and get this place squared away"?

Any day now. There's a hurricane gonna drag its skirts over the area and I can pretty much guarantee that pool season will be over the day after. That will free up about two to three hours of my weekdays. Then we'll see some stuff happen around here. Maybe. Right now, it's me against the falling leaves and the exploding sweetgum balls.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

not Fall

But it's right around the corner. I'm back in the studio this morning putting together a few fat baggies that need shipping.

This morning FB showed me a memory of this date with a picture of my swimming pool in a lurid pea-soup mode, typical for this time of year. It takes huge chemical and labor heroics to bring it back to blue and in late August I usually decide to let it go back to nature.

Not this year! It's still Caribbean blue and clear, but as the leaves start to fall, it calls for a daily hour of cleaning that can only be accomplished wet. Such a suffering. And that sums up why I've been missing from here. In another week or two, things will change and I'll get down to business indoors.

The Last Harvest pieces are all gone and will be on their way to the UK soon. Some scraps from that lot went into the tubs I'm working from now.

With no sense of sorrow, I've decided to give the cloth studio an entire makeover and will be selling/giving/transforming a lot of stuff in the coming weeks. Tools, books, and lots of cloth, of course. Finished art will be on the block, too. It's "Make Me an Offer Time!"

It's crowded in this chrysalis and I'm looking to break out.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

lenses on the past

Antonina Catalano and Antonio Mercurio
Charles Henry Useted Sr.
I have become the family archivist.

While I was in NY, my sisters and I spent an entire afternoon going through one large tub of my mother's photographs. They tell me there are many more.

We went through the stacks of pictures and sorted them based on who should get them. In many cases, we had no idea who the people were. These were in the keepers.



The newlyweds are my mother's mother and father. I never met that Nana and only Poppa once when I was maybe seven. He did not make a favorable impression.

The character is below is Pop, my father's father. I thank him for all that good hair. He spit tobacco juice on my bare feet to comment on not wearing shoes.

He also taught me how to strop a razor and use a whetstone to sharpen any kind of blade. Some skill for a little girl. He was a man of very few words and when you were around him, it was a good trait to adopt.