Friday, May 29, 2015

eyes wide open

No time for much else. These and another couple dozen will be dyed this weekend. Each one 13 yds of six-strand DMC floss.

Colors?  I won't know until the sun rises on Saturday. I also plan on working some larger pieces of linen and damask in the creeping darkness technique that I was experimenting with two weekends ago.

I spend most of what little free time I have writing, but I had a big bucket of emotional cold water tossed over my head last weekend.

There had been plans to give up both the studio, office and upstairs bath to a renter. I really thought I could do this, but when the preliminary meet with a person who would be anyone's ideal tenant was over, I sat in the studio at my sewing machine for a few minutes looking around, trying to decide what could be stored where and what would be parted with. Then I broke down in tears with emotions that reached far, wide and deep.

It took me a while to realize that I just couldn't take another square inch of loss in my life. So, I cannot afford to let this space, these materials, and most importantly, this practice languish and be wasted.  I have to try harder.
It's not like riding a bike at all.

and of course, there are life's delights.




Saturday, May 23, 2015

moving on

"Fierce" has come down off the design wall and will be outside on the pool deck with the elements for the time being.

It's been getting in the way of progress in the studio.

With these new test pieces just shuffling around up there for now, I've finally been able to see that my lack of passion for getting Fierce done was directly connected to all the ways that the piece went sideways to my original intent. It's helped me see a new way to accomplishing that goal.

Whole cloth with was resist was NOT the path. It was a quick fix that failed. There are too many basic design flaws to admit to and correct. And yet, this cloth will continue to serve. There will be surgeries, overdyeing and more. The base damask was very strong and will not be wasted. I have no time to waste.



Monday, May 18, 2015

early returns

I was just standing in front of the washing machine with my forehead on the lid making prayers to the Overlords of Particulate Physics that this litter of rags should TURN OUT RIGHT.

And, although my eye says "YES" my heart is still a clenched fist until they dry and maybe get ironed.

All this angst over a dream, which may have been a nightmare.

I could blame it (the dream, not a possible dye fail) on wallowing in the Madmen finale and trying to match everyone drink for drink, but those of you who know me also know that that would be nonsense. Still, I was pretty smashed after watching both the show and the encore.

I want to write more about Madmen, but I don't want to be assassinated by some random fan for spoiling it for them.

Besides, I won't write a lick until I find an image of Don stepping out of what I think was a '69 Chevelle SS 454. I didn't know where to look first as he took off the helmet.

It was always about the car.


Back to the nightmare.

Heisenberg, his mask perched over his glasses, sweat running off his face and fumes coming from his hazmat suit like vapors from hell,  leaning across the teacher's desk and intoning.

     "If you warm that bile with blood, better make damn sure it's royal blood and not that damned monkey juice you are so fond of!" 

 I knew exactly what he was talking about!

(note to self. don't forget what H said about the soywax and soul windows)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

capillarian





That's probably not a word, but it should be.

The intensity of interest about my experiments with cloth and dye continues to escalate. I should sell tickets.

I'm going to be happy and not if either of these two blacks turn out the way I hoped because I tinkered the crap out of them right out the jar and wrote nothing down. One was a warm bluish black and the other, cool. I beat them both into submission with orange and copper and didn't measure a thing. Sui generis.



Saturday, May 16, 2015

back to black and white


Karma V (44"x36")


I didn't cook up any of the new black dyes that I ordered yet. Maybe tomorrow afternoon. I dreamed of a technique for getting the fades that I like, if dream-based solutions have any basis in the reality of water, dye and cloth, that is.

The more I look at this series the more I know it's not finished.



Monday, May 11, 2015

poppies and peonies

Now that the "Poppy" project is finished I have to scamper and get these delivered.

As for the rest of the new colors, for the most part, meh.

Happily, I only mixed six ounces bottles of dye stock so there's plenty of room for tinkering.

For the most part, the week was taken up by other things. I went in the pool yesterday for the first time and froze everything from my neck down while I stupidly inspected seams and such, did a little final cleaning and re-met an old friend who hitchhiked around on my shoulder for a while and then decided the photographer needed his help.

Of course, the best part of the week was spent in good company.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

poppies, round 2

I was pretty unhappy with the results of yesterday's foray in red. True truth - it's my least favorite color except for Prochem's Pagoda and Sunrise red which I think comes from Dharma. Each one is about two degrees east and west of dead neutral. 

I'm reworking everything with gradations of the two reds using


a technique I learned from the DyeMaster herself, Elizabeth Barton - as near as I can recall it anyway. I usually let my fabric soak over night in the soda ash soup. This time I put the dye stock in plain water, measured into intensity gradations. stuffed the dry cloth right into the dye bath, and let is sit five or so minutes, diddling it from time to time for better distribution of color. Let it rest a bit. THEN whack all the pots with a shot of soda ash solution, diddle a little more and then stack the pans up. 
I'll cover this with a piece of plastic and will not mess with them until maybe tomorrow afternoon when I get home from Charlie's. 



The annual lesson on NOT trying to make my own green blend was early this year. The one I came up with looked like green lollipops, Quite yucky. Tossed.

This is a piece of warm tan linen in a robin's egg blue dye..the best way to come at green in my opinion.

We'll see what happens..

studio archeology

The churn and burn begins. It's gotten pretty chaotic in there over the past year and a half. I go in, move things from here to there without a whole lot of rhyme or reason and generally forget what I was looking for in the first place. Today I was looking for a recently purchased box of T pins and assessing the results of yesterday's dye session. No pins...lot's things that need work, dye-wise, and this.

It was kinda crumpled up and needs a little invisible stitching and a name. One thing at a time. I found my baseball hat and glove too!


Saturday, May 02, 2015

10 shades of poppy

I'm opening the 2015 Lawrenceville Frankenstein Dyedeck with a commission, from an esteemed patron right here in the ATL she is going to be up to her tail in Poppy done in linens, damask and some cotton that looks snatched off a fast creature. I'll leave these to poach until tomorrow and hope I don't have to redye anything once they are rinsed, washed and dried.


I've been getting pretty smug about my pretty fingernails, so Murphy (He of the Law) slipped a defective glove in the box to put me in my place. Even with doubles...at least it wasn't green or black.

I considered the appropriate gesture for a moment, then remembered I had a tube of Reduran upstairs.

Dyefest 5.2 , part 2 continues tomorrow with the full rainbow cook-up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Time Machine


..or as close as you will ever get to one! I was feeling the need to do a little cultural research for my book and scored these mid-seventies issues for pennies on Ebay. They were waiting on the doorstep (half in the rain, thanks, idiot postie) when I got home from Charlie's place.  I didn't really have time to dip into them until yesterday morning.

Fuhgeddaboutit CBS Sunday Morning! My coffee got cold as I leafed through the fragile, browning paper. Not digging into any articles just yet, but remembering how life was before the Internet, cell phones, cable TV - all the mostly irrelevant crap available at a touch, most of it free.

If you wanted to know something about anything, you had to work hard at it. Libraries were sacred temples. Pay telephones were everywhere and you better have change. Need to get in touch? You wrote letters! Paper, pens, stamps and greeting cards, even telegrams. Note to a lover? Hastily scrawled, unsigned and left in an agreed-upon location or slipped into their back pocket. Stop and think about all that has been lost.

Rolling Stone - on newsprint back in the day - first hit the newsstands in November, 1967.  I had just started my first year at SVA and  was still commuting into Manhatten from Goldens Bridge.  I was killing time in Grand Central Station when this caught my eye.  It wasn't John Lennon's picture that grabbed me. It was the typeface that pulled me in, promising rock music, drugs and sex. I had seen similar fonts used in concert ads slapped on most any available surface in my wanderings around New York City. It's a wonder I got through that first year alive; I was as green as a Granny Smith apple.

I read lots of other newspapers, whatever I could pick up for free on the train left behind by my fellow commuters- the Times, Post, News, Reporters Dispatch, Amsterdam  News, and oddly enough - Playboy. I guess fellow traveler bought it in the city but was afraid to bring it home. Remember, these were the Madmen years. Double lives were almost the standard of the day! The real bitch was I couldn't actually read anything on the moving train, getting  instantly nauseous if I tried. So everything came home with me.

As a commercial art student, there was not a lot of required reading involved and I didn't have time for novels. RS became my primary source for (my) culturally relevant information and I wallowed in it! Dipping into these, I can almost smell the Maryjane!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Catch up

Oh, my friends! Missing I've been. Not!
Missing leisure time for mental clarity to spare? Some.
Where was I? Paris, checking out April, Rome? Lunching with the Pope? Undercover in prison? I'll never tell. Yet.

Things are, pretty much as they were. Some background machinations grind forward (can you hear it?) and the day-to- day, a lot of them 18 hours long, roll on.

Charlie grows overnight. He has three four teeth now and teething has been hard on the little guy who, in innocent turn, makes it hard on his family. Missy told me that for the first time in ages he slept through the night. The look on her face was as if she had been drifting at sea for a week and was watching the Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter descend, basket at the ready. What was the magic formula, the combination of feeding, napping, and fresh air? Don't bother to write it down because it will be gone by tomorrow.

He's a free range baby and, as such, I like to sit on the floor with him, occupy and protect. Getting up from the floor ten or twelve times a day, lifting a 22 pound human gyroscope, and rasslin' a baby alligator for a diaper change, 8-10 times a day has been physically challenging. I misjudged a balance point day before yesterday and wrenched both my right knee and hip. Not to worry. A day later and things seem stable and the pain has diminished a great deal, but I have been warned.

It scared the shit out of me. From ninth grade through my first year in college I was on and off crutches six or eight times due to knee injuries of the football type. I had to pretty much give up being athletic, including ice skating, which really broke my heart a bit. I went from being a star doer to being a sullen and jealous watcher.

And now, in the last fifth of my time, I'm terrified of losing my mobility and not being able to carry out my primary mission - taking care of my grandson. Serious lifestyle challenges call for serious responses.


Such is my preoccupation.



Stitching? Not so much. 
I have three commissions and the dye season, optimal temperature and humidity, is just weeks away.









The miracle garden is well underway. I'm going to look at a replacement of the  Joseph's Coat rosebush later. 

My main characters have been telling me their stories while I sleep and, working from nightstand notes, I will be capturing them and roping the action into my first rough draft.

And the  cream cheese frosting on my red velvet cupcake (in my dreams of course) is that baseball is back!!

The Braves, although radically transformed, are 4 and 0. Beating the Mets in the home opener last night was bittersweet. I used to share special games with my Dad long distance. Now I've transferred my gloating or moaning to my brother, who puts up with me.


Trade Craig Kimbrel away?? It's OK, I'm over it. We got Grilli.  

Sunday, April 05, 2015

New tradition

We haven't done Easter since the boys were old enough to realize that too much chocolate was bad for their skin.

Prior to that, it was a combination of Christmas and Halloween with a few much-coveted, basket sized  toys, colored hardboiled eggs that only Jim and I ate until we were sick of them and the aforementioned candy. It was a completely secular and commercial celebration that I was happy to see the backside of.

There were always gatherings at either or both of our parents homes.
Those  I miss.

Going forward, I'll use the date to test drive the seasons dye colors. The ones above are only the new ones. I have at least this many leftover from last years. Add starting the pool cleanup and maybe some gardening to this and we have a weekend of useful stuff to do that's not drenched in calories or hypocrisy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Plotting.the moves

..but like a lot these days, it's all about the weather. It will probably be mid-May before it's really warm enough for best results.

These are the last of my own hand dyed DMC floss...Of course, I'm out of the color I was looking for. I'll be putting up 13 yrd. lots again.
Eight yards are just not enough.

When I get home today, I'm finally going to open that case from Prochem so I can start charting the colors of the '15 season. Charging through the spectrum for my patented (not really)  Monkey's Blood, then Aubergine, Ochre-ish, Ghost Copper, Torch Light, Old Canary, Grasshoppers Heart, Bell Green, Anchor, Lush Life...I could go on, but you get the picture.

Monday, March 30, 2015

mystery

To the kind and generous, anonymous person who sent the thank you card -

 I don't feel all that worthy, but the gift was timely and deeply appreciated. It quickly translated to fresh lettuce, oranges and strawberries, bread, cheese, a bag of Braves peanuts, chili makings, half & half, a whole gallon of apple cider, cookies for humans and cats...and many other delightful things.

thanks

Friday, March 27, 2015

vacation day, kinda



I've been on a tiny vacation of sorts. Missy is taking some time off from work making me non-nana for a few days. Although I miss Charlie it's good for all of us.

We thought spring was finally here - Colin has cut the lawn twice in ten days - but it's turned cold again with freeze warnings for the weekend. I covered over the peony shoots popping up in the garden and brought the houseplants back inside. Only the strong shall survive.

Yesterday I worked in the writing chair for almost six hours. Today there was a mile and change in the park although I really didn't think I had a quarter mile in me. Starting out I felt like the Tin Man after a night in the rain, but all smoothed out after a bit and I was surprised at the ground I covered.  Later, there was time in the stitching chair.





Missy got to be the one to give him his first ride on the swing at the park. So right!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

read for me

 1. Thesis. The essence of your problem or question.
 2. Antithesis. The obstacle or challenge that you must deal with.
 3. Synthesis. The resolution of the thesis and antithesis.

I'm good with this one.
(If you keep your cards in a Crown Royal bag you might be a redneck Tarot reader)

Monday, March 23, 2015

finishing Vigil


"Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in."  Michael Corleone


the next step

Me? Coming out of hibernation like most of the country. My UFO's are different these days – books that I'm reading rather than unfinished stitching projects. At the moment I'm going through a list that ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, but if the author doesn't have me after a full chapter, maybe two, it goes into the “sell it back” pile.

I've been thinking about putting the cloth and thread behind me and clearing out the studio. Boxing up all the raw materials and tools. Out of sight, out of mind. Not to mention all the finished pieces. 

But then what? My studio was my favorite place in the house where everything in it was set up for my comfort and purpose by my husband. I don't need a spare bedroom anymore. Soon, I won't need the day job office. 

It was shitty out yesterday and I forced myself to follow through with what's become a ritual – meeting one of my friends at IKEA in the city. I can take or leave the food, but they don't throw you out after taking up a table for nearly three hours. We hash over family, life and current events and then we tour the store with our wishlists. As much as I like good design, a lot of IKEA's offerings leaves me cold. 

My friend makes jewelry. Beautiful, fashionable stuff, not junky trendy crap. She reminded me that she stopped doing it completely for about two years. She was just out of gas, experiencing a loss of passion for the craft due in part to a frustration with marketing – every artists waterloo. Just recently, she got her stuff out of storage and picked it up again and she is back to enjoying the pure pleasure of just making with fresh eyes and attitude. Pondering the lesson.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

nailing it

If you are any kind of creative every now and again you'll step back from what you are up to and go “Yes!” or “Good!” or, in my case “Fuckin' Aaa!” and you'll throw down the tools and get that little chill and be thirsty for a celebration because you nailed it. You won't even feel the need to drag anyone into the moment for their agreement. This moment is for you alone.

Last night I was pondering the demise of the writers group that I've been going to for a little more than a year now. The two founders have drifted away. Life, of course, must take precedence over follies like gathering over bad food with snotty waiters and embarrass ourselves and each other with our attempts at writing and so the group has floundered. It's been a learning experience and my only semi-social connection to the world since my husband died. I will be looking for another bunch of similarly plagued individuals and if I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll found my own.

So I made the mistake of looking over a bit of the book I've been working on for almost a year. I worked on it constantly while I was at the FOF retreat last year in FL. 

The writing was puffy, awkward and self-indulgent. I was bummed thinking how I thought I was closing in on a rough draft when all I really had behind me was clouds crap. I sulked and went to bed. The last thing I remember was that there were a couple of lines out of some twelve pages that were really good. Keepers.

In the dark hour before waking, on a day when I didn't have to get up, I turned that chapter inside out in my head. I had a sit down with each of the characters. Assessed their needs and their wants. Established who knew what, when and why it mattered. Addressed the problems and found answers, all before ever putting my toes on the rug.

I've got this and knowing it feels great.

Friday, March 13, 2015

spring behind my back

Spring is here for real. I want to get my mailbox garden up and running as soon as I can. It's a scraggly mess this time of year. No pictures please.

The year is a almost a quarter passed. Although I've been feeling the urge to do some stitching, there has been no time for quiet, meditative activity. If I sit still and quiet for five minutes, I'm likely to be asleep. Lately some days are eighteen hours long, but I get to spend most of those hours in good company..
 As you can see Charlie is open to any style sensibility. A baby's boundless sense of discovery and fun is infectious. Yesterday he was oblivious to Elfie on his head while I laughed until I cried.


 On the "House to Home" front, I was able to get a large reduction in the mortgage. For those of you have a VA mortgage, look into an IRRRL rate adjustment. Soon this is going to translate into more free time for me and then who knows what I'll be up for.

ps- these days of adorableness on the quilt are over. He's doing the Worm at 5 mph and gets up on all fours, rocking back and forth, looking for first gear. Any minute now.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

That added hour

Spring swings wildly these past few days between 20s and 60s, snow flurries, freezing rain and this morning, bright sunshine. I couldn't focus on what I wanted to do first beyond just looking. seeing. looking some more. The sun was blazing through the studio windows this morning. I pulled art out of storage and cheered up the Fierce wall.

        untitled works  by Jude Hill, Grace  Forrest and me.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

You're gonna need a bigger box!

I'm packing up a box of stuff to represent me at the next Focus on Fiber event coming up at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. All this stuff will be for the attendees to pick through and use in their projects during the retreat and classes.

If anyone from the ATL is driving there this year  and would consider delivering it for me...I can pack it even heavier! Get in touch!  You'll get first picks after Mary!

I had a terrific time last year. It was a seminal week for me. Although my fiber project "Fierce" didn't pan out, the outline of my novel  in progress did, and I'm forever grateful to everyone who made that week possible.

(Fierce is not a total loss. It hangs in hope on the studio wall. A reminder that you can't always get what you want  ) This was our cabin banner...






Saturday, February 28, 2015

house vs. home

Can you see the house? Barely. That's how I've been thinking about it lately - as little as possible. Instead of seeing it as a home, I've been seeing it as a liability, a money pit.
Since we moved here in '98 it's been a classic case of the shoemaker's children going barefooted. In this case, the carpenter's house getting raggedy. It was always a matter of having either no time to do the work (no chance another contractor be paid to rip us off!) or unpaid time off from work meaning no money to invest in the projects.

My dad was plumber and we had to flush toilet in the spare bath with a bucket of water for years so I understand this mindset completely and it never bothered me especially because Jim really like doing creative, hands on things,  like the pool deck, beautiful built in bookcases and putting a window in my studio so I could  have north light..wonderful things. Not practical things.

Now the list of practical needs has piled up to the point where I look at those "I BUY  UGLY HOUSES" signs and think "I got a peach for ya, buddy".

I've decide that it's my mindset that's ugly and I'm going to have to get real and get creative about putting my house in order.

 Last night, a dear friend almost lost her home to a fire. The building itself was saved, but her beloved pets were not. Why does it take a kick in the gut to wake us up?

There are forms to be filled out, research to do and  lists to be made.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Putting the cloth to work redux

detail courtesy Arlee Barr

My sister in fyberspace, Arlee Barr, posted an eye popping array of photos of her most recently completed "the Ubiquitous Poppy Project"  although I have to say you don't see poppies like this just anywhere.

A long time ago I sent her a bundle of dyed cloth and she's made the magic happen.


I be working up a full range of colors, wishful through intense, pure and speckled like puppies as soon as the sun comes back on a regular basis. It may be a while...I drove through a snowstorm to get to Charlie today. Very rare here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

the body dump

I took the Greenway Spur on a coin toss and glad of it. The other trail would have been a mess of mud. I got bored and did a little off roading up the same desolation trail I followed last year.  Even though a rough road has been logged over what had been a footpath, it's even creepier than it was the last time.


Just over this ridge is an acre of broken concrete, heaps of debris, loops of rusted cable, and big wet clumps of what looked like fur, hair and shreds of cloth everywhere. Like somebody had run a heard of large fur bearing animals through the washer and cleaned out the lint traps on the ground.

 It looked like a body dump at first. I really didn't want to get close enough to any of these to take pictures, but curiosity drove me on.

I wandered around, careful of my footing. There's broken glass and twisted metal bits everywhere. None of the fur/hair piles had any bones and there was no smell of decay. No vultures around either and in Georgia, they do NOT miss lunch.

No conclusions as to what all this mess is up there, but there has been demolition, bulldozing and burning since my visit last year. Good signs or evidence eradication??

Friday, February 20, 2015

summer dreams sustain for now

Won't complain about the cold. It would be an insult to anyone north of here.

 I did  have great fun driving through a snow squall in the friday night rush traffic on the secondary roads here in burbs of Atlanta.  The wind driven snow was rushing at me calling for some hard driving metal music turned up loud!  Keep in mind we have NO accumulation but there are patches of black ice here and there.
july 2012

The locals put on their flashers, straddled the double yellow line and generally behaving like asshats at their first demolition derby.

I gave them space, enjoyed the ride and got home safe.

A big box of dyes from Pro|Chem was waiting for me and a note from a friend letting me know that more cloth was on it's way south!

        2008      I named this piece "Fireplace"....  Jude snapped it up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Under the weather

Not me, thank goodness. I meant the Weather, which has been  relatively kind to us here in Georgia as compared just about everywhere north and east of us. When I talk to my sisters were don't even mention it anymore. More snow and ice is a given. This is from my visit to NY the end of last February.  For the first time in many years, I am not going home for "a little winter". Winter by proxy from everyone who lives with it has been plenty for me.
I'm saving up my vacation days for a summer visit including some time up in Newport. Sand, sun and ocean. I can hold my breath that long!

So, like everyone else,  I've been hibernating - sleeping, eating, cooking, reading and writing. There's been no stitching of any consequence, but I did just get off the phone with ProChem. I spent the entire gift certificate from dearest St. Anna on a mad kaleidoscope of color. Even the nice young lady who took my order was dazzled!

Does anyone have a favorite supplier for flip top 32oz. plastic bottles to hold  dyestock and a source for soy wax flakes?  I feel like a newbie.