Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Colin

Colin modeled a bit when he was a baby.  How could he not, as cute as this and he was a laughin' fool the minute anyone broke out a camera.

The day came for a TV commercial try out for the Glow Worm toy.
Colin was very small and his almost invisible blondness made him look more a baby than the running toddler he was at a only year old.
When we got to the shoot in NYC  they sat him up on a raised dais - cameras, lights and people everywhere. Colin was unflappable. The toy company exec, the photographer, the director and all the support people fussed over how adorable and perfect the baby was for their plans.

I stood back as an assistant showed him the toy. You squeezed it's belly and the face would light up. He showed it to Colin and demonstrated it's magic.
Colin smiled obligingly, squeezed it a few times and then looked up and said very clearly for the whole room to hear "This is a stupid toy".

The director fell back clutching his heart, the client walked out and everyone else was peeing themselves and smothering laughter.  It was hysterical. No one expected such a little baby to have such a big mouth.

The AD picked Colin up gingerly and handed him to me like he was radioactive and said "He's a little too articulate for our needs today, thank you".

We had ice cream before boarding the train for the suburbs and I had to scold him on the ride home for rumpusing  and disturbing the sleepers. On reflection, the sugar rush was my fault. Modeling was not fun anymore. Thus ended our career in TV. 

(in case you haven't figured out the vintage of this story, these pictures were taken in 1981)

yeah, yeah, the script needs work

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I've finished the second "RĂªver" and would make more but there were only two armrest covers on that couch and I'm not ready to skin it for the rest of the upholstery...although who would miss cloth taken from the back to the wall?

To keep from tearing down the trail with my eyes closed on another project, I've committed to finishing off a fling I started a while back...miles of white quilting are ahead, enough to keep me out of trouble I hope.

This one will be a warm up for the Islands  now that I have a better idea of how they should be built.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I love having a new project and everything it's needing at the moment in my basket close at hand, ready when I am.

This element might be included in the project I've started for Jude's Magic Cloth Diary which is starting up soon.
It's a six month class so I'll be documenting the progress (or lack thereof) here

No compass, no matches, no knife am I'm already wandering in the woods of this one.

Today is for chillin', swimming and stitching.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Of course you know it's this piece of damask that has me spellbound. I may have to take it outside and burn it under the moon. Until then, I'll hand it up on the design wall to spook me from there.

I just got back from errands around town (a few more Magic Cloth Burritos are in the mail!) and I had the oddest experience. I recently took advantage of a coupon and downloaded a few self hypnosis scripts from Wendy Friesen.

Now, before you scoff, remember you are dealing one hard headed bitch here and I will also tell you that I know this stuff works.

Years ago I learned to put myself into a deep, dreamless and refreshing sleep in less than two minutes and wake up in 30 feeling like I had slept soundly all night. A great trick when your baby won't sleep but 10 minutes out of every two hours as Colin did his whole first year.

After all, we tell ourselves stuff in our heads every waking moment. Unfortunately it's not often good or useful stuff.  A good "script" will put you into a receptive (think contemplative, open) state of mind and then offer up positive and/or directed suggestions that you are free to choose or disregard. The whole point is to embrace new and useful suggestions and put them into practice - like making daily physical exercise as important to your mind as it is for your body..good stuff like that.

Anyway, I was driving along with the Ipod on shuffle and one of the scripts popped up and I decided to listen actively for content and ignore the hypnotic induction, after all I was driving. After about a minute I found my self feeling... JELLIED - one hit jellied!

I quickly turned down the sound and focused on the road.  Having these scripts at my fingertips is like have a joint hidden in the bottom of the jewelry box. You KNOW it's going to work but you can't seem to bring yourself to light up.
"What's up with that" is the question to ponder. Have a great weekend. I will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

win some, lose some

I spent most of the morning pushing these pieces of fabric around trying to make them make sense, play nice. It got as far as lots of pins, but not further. Sometimes it just wont fly.

On the other hand "Spill" was juried into Artquilts Lowell 2011

Right now I have to duck and cover. Serious thunderstorms. serious.


My grandma taught me how to iron. 

Nelly ironed for people back when such services were in demand. Baskets of clean laundry were left on her front porch and in the morning we would sprinkle shirts with water from a stoppered bottle, roll them and tuck them into an enamel pan and put them in the refrigerator. Then she would start in on the things that had been in refrigerator overnight and were scheduled for pickup in the afternoon.

The electric iron was polished and heavy.  Most things came starched from the wash; cotton dresses and skirts with endless pleats, acres of sheets and curtains and dozens of mens dress shirts.

I was entrusted with pillowcases and handkerchiefs once she was certain that I had the important lessons down - never stop moving the iron and, if you had to set it down to sprinkle, you put it on the hotplate and NOT the ironing board. I was allowed two fifteen minute stints of cloth polishing while she sat and watched her TV stories “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light” with one eye on me the whole time. She never allowed me to iron any of the shirts, a process I found fascinating, with so many steps to the finished product. Everything was stacked neatly back into the baskets they had come from and ladies would stop by and pick them up late in the afternoon.

When I was a teenager my Dad had a job that called for dress shirts and it was my job to get them perfect although he was satisfied to have them on a hangar.

 I was working on one of his shirts the very first time I heard the Beatles.
”She loves you…yeah, yeah, yeah….” was coming out of my mother’s leather bound Zenith portable radio and I clearly remember being grabbed at some core of my brain and looking incredulously at the radio as if I expected it to burst into flames as I leaned over the ironing board. It was the shirt that nearly burst into flames and I had the rotten luck of bad timing as Mom walked into the kitchen just as the smell of scorching cotton snapped me out of it and I lifted the iron off the ruined shirt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

washout day

By now everyone must be familiar with this riot scene - I never tire of it.

Lot's of little things here; embroidered hankies, doilies, bit's and pieces that will all add up to something someday for someone somewhere.

There's that fuggedaboutit blue again!

I'm going to experiment with taking the color down a notch with some of these pieces.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

sunday festivities

I mixed a whole new set of colors and set out two dozen mason jars and a dozen steel pans of in the hot Georgia sun filled with pieces of cloth  - an amazing variety of cottons - gauze, terry, flannel, antique linen, cotton jacquard and other things I don't even know the names for beyond old including a vintage Mexican wedding dress that was torn beyond repair. Lots of mysterious yardage undergoing transformation this weekend.

The thing is, I won't be decanting any of these before Tuesday.

Now to try and forget they are out there on the decking waiting.
There are those who will disagree with me but from my experience, batching is mostly baloney when you are using MX dyes.

If the cloth has been well prepped, the dye and the temperatures of everything are optimal, all the color that's going to happen will happen in the first few hours.  

I just won't have the time for all the rinsing, washing and ironing that comes next until Tuesday.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's day to my cool dad!

And Happy Father's day to the co-author of my finest creations.. It's good to be the King!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

professional photographer...

...NOT. but I do the best I can in spite of studio assistants ever plotting mayhem and interference.

Can we get on with it DeMille? I have meetings all day.

....where's my damned mark!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A wonderful gift from afar (thanks Serena) and two other great fiber finds are pointing  towards a serious dyefest next week. I have a few experiments in mind, soy wax to the forefront, and a need for some large, almost solid colored pieces for an ongoing project.

Have to take a long hard look at the colors on hand and see if I can't move them in some different directions.

That's my velvet shawl in the background.The damask leaves seem to be evaporating after much dragging around and machine washing. The cloth was very old and fragile before I ever dyed it. Repair? I think not....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

easy choice...

...after some brief navel gazing, rowdy it is . Let's hope the judges aren't wound too tight and fulla de artiselves.

I think this great bugger needs a sleeve too before I can get a proper shot ...what's today? Merely Tuesday.

There's a pool to be cleaned and chicken to cook.

NOT last nights dinner.

Monday, June 13, 2011

monday morning chaos

the morning light in my studio is dazzling. even the chaos is inspiring.

Another postmark deadline looms this Friday and I'm trying to decide on which six pieces would be good candidates for this venue ,

the small and contemplative things

or the rowdy, big stuff...
Which way to go.


Doo gave us a bad scare on Saturday.

After his dinner he was walking across the floor, froze in midstep, growled quietly and collapsed. His breathing was slow, shallow and labored. I carried him upstairs and made him comfortable on my sewing table, his hang out of late. I feared the worst as his breathing slowed and even stopped once or twice.

Colin and I sat with him for several hours. I made it clear that there would be no rushing off to any emergency clinic - he did not seem to be in pain or distress and, if these were his last moments they would be in quiet comfortable surroundings with people he knew. Sweetie even jumped up on the table to investigate. 

As darkness fell, I moved him to my bed where he has been sleeping  at my feet all week. In fact, he has been uncharacteristically under feet and hands for a week or more, insistently demanding attention and biting once it's given. Something has been coming.

While I watched he fell into a deep sleep. Jim and I discussed where we would be digging a grave for him. I fully expected that when I woke up, he would be gone. Colin and Jake both got home sometime after midnight and came in to see how he was, waking me.

As I awoke, Voodoo got up, gave a big Halloween cat stretch and looked around as if to say "What the Hell are y'all looking at?" He was a little unsteady at first but took himself downstairs, and wanted out. I went with him, worried that he would take himself off to commune with Nature in his last hours, as cats will.  Instead, he did his business in the weeds, marched up the driveway to consult with Karma and Juicy who were doing guard duty, and then set off purposefully around the back of the house for the rest of his patrol. I let him go.

A few hours later (it's 2-ish now) Voodoo came back in and announced himself to Jim who was up doing paperwork and led him back upstairs and where he hopped back up by my feet to spend an uneventful night.  When the time actually does come, and it will for all,  I hope it goes this smoothly.

Friday, June 10, 2011

goals - The Sea

From the moment I read the prospectus I knew I had to try to get Neap Tide (left), Spill and Pacific Gyre into
"Art Quilts Lowell 2011:The Sea" at the Brush Gallery in Lowell MA.

Where else could this trio possibly fit?
Finding them in the chaos of my studio, getting them ready and shooting them, filling out the paperwork, burning the disc, getting to the PO before the noon ponies left for the airport...all fell into place auspiciously.

I don't know when I'll be able to make time to get to the sea, so this gesture and the pool will have to do for now.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


Spill (detail)

This morning I starting getting three large pieces ready to re-shoot for an upcoming show only to find this monster (56"x43") didn't even have a hanging sleeve, let alone a name. Now it has both.

Missed the window of light opportunity today but I'll be ready tomorrow.
This will happen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

moths & moon

The usual value problems are here now but it's real early. I was so charmed and challenged by Grace's  beautiful moth- so simple and elegant yet I had to zoom in to see that it didn't just fly in and rest there.

My efforts to emulate it are clumsy by comparison but I'm happy so far - I want to convey the heat, humidity, the noise -the nighttime teams with life, the party never ends.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

hot summer night

We are in the 9th day of 90+ heat with no rain in sight. The cats have been testy, the wildlife a bit wilder and the thought of jockeying large pieces around to reshoot for an show entry is enough to cause a swoon and call for a two hour pool break.

I started this last night as a sampler to see how various fabrics and threads worked over a new base material that I have acres of. It's a synthetic - think light weight mattress pads.

I've always worked with W+N cotton batting but with the antique,open weave fabrics and heavy weight cotton thread, shreds of batting were getting dragged to the surface of the cloth. not nice.

This new stuff has little drape which bodes well for the some larger pirate flags in the sketchbook and it turns out to be a dream to stitch by hand or machine. I'll go on with this one and see where it takes me. So far these are vintage cotton lawn and damask  over a piece of that luxury cloth which took the dye so well.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Fun From Under Your Kitchen Sink

some of these will be for sale here when they are done

When you were a kid did you love "Mr. Wizard" on TV? It was one of my favorite shows. Do cool things with stuff from the kitchen, just don't let your mother catch you. I learned some science and how to clean up a crime scene and make evidence disappear.

So here you have magic made from your common stash cloth, all those batik fat quarters that you bought to excess because you couldn't stop yourself, SoftScrub (who needs to clean the bathroom?) and Aquasafe which is sold in the pet department in the grocery store. (I'm sure there are other brands of both products)

Try starting with fabrics both wet  and dry. I use a hair dye applicator (where ever could that have come from?)and sometimes dilute the SoftScrub with water, sometimes not. Experiment with timing. Add some elements, wait a few minutes and add some will see the changes quickly so don't' walk away for a smoke or a nosh or you could come back to holes depending on the cloth. Remember, the magic is in the bleach so don't do this to anything other than cottons.

When you get to the stopping place (check the backsides of the cloth) take them out on a patch of lawn you don't care much about and blast them with the hose. Then let them soak in a bucket for a while with the Aquasafe to stop the chlorine action. Wash, dry, enjoy! (the large piece on the far right is hand dyed canvas the rest are all commercial batiks mostly from my patron St.A. )

Saturday, June 04, 2011

a working anniversary

Our 34th year together and we are both working today, much to be grateful for.

I rescued a few more pieces of cotton lawn and light muslin that got a little more dye than was planned on. Here they are drying poolside...they are making me dizzy!

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Rather than let this one get away from me again ( I found the pieces of cloth rolled in a bundle under the sewing chair) I decided to commit to the basic construction pretty much as it was on the design wall.

My trepidations have been over technique. It happens that all three of the major units of this piece are very old and fragile; a piece of sackcloth from the thirties, an ancient, worn damask table cloth and a strip of percale.

I had to do a little hand repair on one section, nothing could be hidden.
This has made up my mind that all the stitching going forward will be done by hand. Those decisions haven't even been dreamed about yet. I'll have to find a place to hang it up in the bedroom so I can look at it before sleeping.

Of course, some folks notion of art is merely somebody else's idea of a good place to nap or wash one's nether parts undisturbed.

Happy Birthday Jake!

The future tool addict...

Jake giving Moses fashion pointers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

so what do you use your lawn chairs for?

lost wip

Thanks to a reader somewhere in the Netherlands for reminding me why I left this hanging on the design wall for so long. I took it down, folded the elements together in  a small bundle and put it.....where?

Since I moved my day job office into the studio I have literally turned my back on the room and it's in major chaos. I remind myself of the notion of moving a mountain with a teaspoon - one moment you look up and it's gone. Somewhere in the mountain this little bundle awaits further action.

PS- Judy, I found it intact!