Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eleanor & Donna

My mother-in-law Eleanor passed away today after a long illness. We will be leaving for her funeral in New York tomorrow. Eleanor was an "old school" kind of Mom, her kids and family came before anything else. She was the Very Best mother-in-law, trusting me to do right by one of her finest creations and never meddling with my job as wife and mother although she was an expert and I was a rank amateur. We always treated each other with love and respect and she will be deeply missed. When Jimmy and I first made our intentions for each other known to our families some thirty years ago, Eleanor was the first non-skeptic. I'm a bit older than my husband and at first our families were a bit freaked out about it. After my first dinner with his family she and I chatted while doing the dishes. Well, she grilled me lightly as a mother should. I guess I gave the right answers because I always felt we had her blessings from that day forward.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Broken compass, New directions

While I was waiting for things to cook Thanksgiving day I spent some time blindly stabbing at Maria Elkins artist's links. If you've never been to this site, be prepared to lose a few hours. Add to that links to some of my favorite artists and I got a whiff of a glimmer of an idea to follow. I feel like a bloodhound set onto a long gone but very smelly escaped convict. Two of my all time favorites are Eleanor McClain and Mary Ann Jordan who have both recently added new work to their sites. I love the impact of the work of both these artists. Talk about being gobsmacked! (I only just stumbled across this blog and haven't fully investigated it yet. I see yarn, a kitten, and some real writing - I'll get back to you on this one). Add to these stops Jude Hill's wonderful story about the creation of "Listen to the River" over at Spirit Cloth and Judy Martin's adventure in overdyeing a completed quilt. Don't miss Judy's magical water color work while you are there. Because my project involves dyeing, I'll need sunshine and warm breezes to carry out my ideas so I will probably have to wait until the Focus on Fiber retreat in April before I can work on this project! Talk about your distant back burners! I may be reduced to reminiscing with tiny Rothko puppies like this one from 2005. Where is this one I wonder? The dyeing I could do in my kitchen but the drying of unrinsed fabric will have to take place out on the deck where I'll have to string some clothesline. There will be cutting and piecing (did you know I was a closeted Amish?) and discharging and overdyeing going on too. In what order and how and when I am still pondering. Jeez, I don't want to overthink this one....grrrr. In the meantime, it's back to the studio for more work on this one including meditating on a suitable name.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Don't you just love a bargain? I just got back from what I hope is my last pilgrimage to the grocery store for the things I forgot to get over the last three trips. These flowers were marked down to 2$ and were about to be tossed in the trash! I passed on the 3$ peach colored roses. So there's a 22 pound turkey bathing in the kitchen sink that still has some ice crystals up where the giblets are stuffed and I'm blogging. It doesn't have to go into the oven until 1:30 (thanks for the calculations, Poppy) because Jimmy won't be landing at Hartsfield until 5:30 if all goes as planned. These two little pieces were made for an invitational art auction and have to get in a priority mail box tomorrow to reach their destination in time. "The Egyptian Room" was inspired by the film "A Night at the Museum" which I finally saw last week. Both pieces are fabric collaged onto 5"x7"canvases with acrylic medium.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home Towns

Take a look at this list. Do you recognize your home town? (If you do, send me an email and say "Howdy") This is a very partial list of locations for people who have had the interest to stop by my blog or website for a few minutes and look at my work and read about my life. It just staggers me with hope and gratitude that so many people all over this planet can care about something as fleeting and inconsequential as the art-making of a middle aged lady in Old Dixie, America. It reminds me that all over this world, in hometowns everywhere, we all have the same big concerns about family, hopes for the future and desire for life on this fragile planet. We all breathe the air and drink the water. I give thanks.

Monday, November 19, 2007


These crocheted cotton mittens took one documentary on Stanley Kubrick, one of his early films "Paths to Glory" and "Shakespeare in Love" to complete. Not a bad way to spend a slow Sunday afternoon. I don't really know how to crochet beyond this one stitch so I just build with this one stitch right on my hand. I was happy they both turned out the same and can't wait for a frosty morning to try them out.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More new stuff and miscellany

Pamela's talk about non-representational work and the mere mention of Mark Rothko has caused me to drag out pieces of hand-dyed damask and hand painted cottons that I could never bring myself to cut into and use them in a large way. I recently came into a few acres of a really intense, black polyester blend that has found new life as base and backing fabric. Just gonna stare at it awhile and try to see how the stitching will help or hurt it. I'm having second thought about the center element. It's starting to look like a skirt.

This is me going away with Voodoo and Jinx who are not quite aware that the other is there or mayhem might have ensued.

And this is my little pagan family protection nest.

Friday, November 16, 2007

WWU3 or maybe not

#3 is in the early stages. I resisted coming out of the blue palette but Jim insisted and he was right, but I'm not happy with some of the shapes so after the "brutal wash" there will be some hacking. The mauve/gold/white pieces of fabric are a kind of cotton that you can no longer buy and take the dye in wonderful, fine grained marbled way that I could never reproduce in any other cloth. This was originally a sheet from my Aunt Jo & Uncle Chuck Morley's hunting lodge in Flint, Michigan so it is easily fifty years old. Two summers past, it became too fragile to continue as my favorite bedding so into the dyepot it went. I've been hoarding it ever since. The cut work came from an estate sale in Narragansett, RI.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


These two pieces have come together for me in ways that I have to call mystical. They are made from the hand dyed antique damasks and cutwork lace pieces that I have been collecting for a while now and based on that wonderful, cut-rate, ancient cotton muslin I scored at OHCO. In some place the holes in the fabric were just there from age and laundering. In other areas I used sandpaper and a rock to abrade the raw edges and thin places for tearing - cotton damask is rough stuff. This one (55"x40") finished with less painting than I first thought. The second piece has more stitching in it's future, some hand stitching and painting . They are both large, this oneis 57"x 42" , both too big to photograph inside the studio without picking up furniture in the frame but it's still dark out. After the top was constructed and hand basted, I put it through a rough, hot machine washing with some work clothes. When I went to build it, I found that I had exactly enough batting left, to the 1/4 inch. I didn't see those spooky eyes until after it came out of the dryer. Thinking about working on these pieces leaves me feeling vague and slightly possessed. I like it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flow & Recuperation

After taking to her bed for a couple of days with lethargy and mopery, a 124$ trip to the vet for a look-see and some pink medicine, Jinx came into my studio today and jumped up onto the new WIP, rolled about and generally proclaimed herself on the road to recovery. We are all relieved. I finished up work on what is now titled "XX" and pretty quickly "XX 2 " came together on the design wall. As big as it is, it turns out that I had exactly, to the quarter inch, enough batting to get this piece built. I did some things differently this time, distressing some of the fabrics with sandpaper and rocks to get the worn feeling I wanted. ps. the original working title of this piece smacked of plagiarism according to the author of a book by the same name. He sicced his literary agent on me and the smell alone was enough to back me off and change the title of this whole series. We'll see what's in a name now that the book will not be mentioned here or anywhere else by me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stymied is my middle name

Seeing what Marie, Rayna and Dijanne have been up to is driving me nuts! There is a huge pile of PFD fabric, a big bag of soywax and a dozen new tubs of mx dyes waiting for me in the studio and whatever scraps of free time I have, I seem to only be able to accomplish SLEEP. Before any of that I have a deep need to tiptoe up on the current WIP and do things to it while it's not looking. It's a monumental piece as much in scale as in meaning for me and I'm worried about screwing it up but the vision calls for a little more. My baby sister Patty was here just overnight and I had 72 hours of anxiety over the fact that I perceive her as a disciple of Martha Stewart .Her daughter Kim says she walks around with a sponge in her hand and a glazed expression on her face. In my house I (half) joke that I had better do some domestic engineering before the Board of Health starts nailing notices to the door. Of course she was a gracious guest and we enjoyed the first all-Georgia family sit down dinner in longer than I can remember. Pat was here representing Wildlife Artists, Inc. on a sales call to the Georgia Aquarium toting with her a huge duffle bag full of the most adorable collection of stuffed creatures you could imagine. Some folks get all the fun! When she's not pushing plush she's a kickboxer!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Day in the Country

Here we are set up (before there was any light to see by) for a day of a little marketing and a lot of people watching at the Bostwick, GA Cotton Gin festival. Optimistic as ever, I didn't think about wearing a jacket and spent the better part of the day looking for a patch of sun to stand in. The "porto-Public" facilities were atrocious so I just didn't consume any liquid for most of the day. When I say this place is out in the country I mean COUNTY. But just because we are in Georgia, don't think "redneck". This town and it's people are steeped in the culture of an American farming community and it was just plain nice to see hardworking people having the only good time for 50 miles around and none it having anything to do with what passes for contemporary cultural past times. A few ladies who might have had a nodding acquaintance with needlework paused by one of my quilts and then fell back clutching their hearts over the high price tag I had on it. "Honey, are these real diamonds sewn on here?" one remarked smartly. "Just WHY is this one so expensive?". My answer seemed to satisfy them- "I just really don't want to sell it". The day started with a parade down main street that consisted of countless John Deere tractors, most of them vintage, and a few old school hotrods. The parade ended up in field just adjacent to the pecan grove where we vendors had our tents pitched. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


As ever, my yard full of ghosts did a good job keeping the less hardy trick-or-treaters at bay. Tied to the ends of the tree branches, these are particularly effective when there is a breeze and I stand behind one of the trees and moan menacingly. One adorable baby giraffe made up for a squad of surly zombies and a parade of Paris Hilton wannabes. What were their parents thinking? I feel like posting a sign on the walk "NO ONE OVER THE AGE OF 10 PAST THIS POINT!" I am going to have to open an wholesale used candy store.