Ramblings

Sitting in the Atrium at the UVM medical center, with a good friend, after several hours of waiting in pro-op. Scary times. When he did his aneurysm surgery I sat by myself – that was a mistake, so not this time. But for the last week every time we would do something together I would wonder if it was the last time we would do this. Just can’t go there. Now I am on automatic pilot until surgery is finished around 7 PM eastern, then it’s into ICU for up to two days. Nothing is going to be easy about this. A day at a time – lots of writing time if I can stay focused.

The art fest was good – not as many sales as I wanted, but more than any shows in the past. Sold the newest piece I just made, A River Runs Through It, and one of my Leftover series. Lots of small pieces of fabrics, and a lot of ideas for what to do next year – or the next nearest show we participate in. Need to get a couple of larger pieces made for all the traveling this coming year.

Spent a morning with Betsy Fram after her presentation with the Essex Art League – what an amazing home and view- and studio. She gave me some good ideas of working with existing pieces of fabric. Ned to find us a good photographer so we can get more mileage out of some of our pieces. See Elizabeth Fram’s website and work –

Those are teeny tiny stitches by hand – I am in awe – and she knows so much about art!

Update four days later – so four-plus days in ICU, serious kidney problems, a-fib again, this time having trouble getting heart rate to stabilize – low or too high blood pressures and the kidneys are not happy. It has become an interesting balancing act. He went to a regular room today – I stayed put – way too tired, scratchy throat, and I don’t want to infect him. So I slept, cleaned up, straightened, watched some TV, and drank some wine. I can head back tomorrow in much better shape.

…and I wrote today!

Cape Cod Part 2

More from our two-day stay – and again, playing around with lighting, cropping, and other assorted photo thingies (too technical to mention)….

Storm the day before, so at low tide the beach was LOADED – took this for my other Mom, Betty – she of the tidepooling book!

Next day – the gulls had scavenged whatever food there was left!

My early morning companions for beach-walking –

 

See what cropping does for this one –

 

View from our porch – Like the various textures in this one above –

This is a series – was playing with light for a possible “plein air” fabric painting…..

Manages to clone out the plastic cup, cropped it with some lightening – now I feel it’s a good picture.  

 

 

Next year……

Cape Cod Part 1

We just had to get away this autumn, what with upcoming surgery and other commitments. I found a place directly on the ocean, room with a view, just feet away. Perfect! We visited a lot of beaches along the southern coast – more on those in the next post. But our last morning we went to find a place called Gray’s Beach, that extended out into the bay over lots of marshes and wetlands. Early morning light – wonderful!

This first is as you start to walk on on the boardwalk. No color adjustments, just some cropping.

Notice the difference.

Isn’t the mud wonderful?

Other side of the boardwalk –

Every slat of the boardwalk has something carved into it – memories, names, etc.

Love me that mud!

Another Short Trip in Vermont

The town of Vergennes was settled around the French and Indian War, very big up here in the Vermont/New York area. The downtown has begun to revitalize, although some of the outer businesses haven’t been able to make a go of it. We hadn’t done much exploring within Vergennes, as it was always on the way to somewhere else. This time we took the turn for Vergennes Falls and were delightfully surprised at what we found – gorgeous falls, running wildly from the rain, and some great picnicking to return to next summer. Lots of photo ops, and a chance for me to experiment yet again. The sun wasn’t perfect,m so you can see how I played around with that. Definitely a place to come when the sun is exactly right – start keeping that in mind when we set out to explore.

Definitely benefits from cropping  and sharpening – this is the middle of the three falls:

Much better with the light –Close-up, just some cropping –

 

Almost impossible to get all three falls in, given my little phone camera –

The original – you know I love bark –

With cropping – light issues –

Black and white, as part of an online challenge – I will continue to work with some black and white – really love the effect.

Some Summer/Fall Travels

Not really able to take much of a long vacation this year – getting ready for surgery, finances, hurricanes cancelling Delaware – lots happening, so we did manage to get a few wonderful short rides around Vermont, exploring a lot of new off-the-main-road places. I am using my camera phone and hubby uses his little point-and-shoot. A new DSLR is on the agenda for next year, but in the meantime I am understanding the difference between digital zoom and optical zoom – explains why my “close-ups” hardly ever are in focus. I also am concentrating on more interesting framing of my pictures. I find I take more pictures, and usually have one or two good ones out of each batch.

This trip was a Sunday drive down around the the town of Georgia, perched right on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. Normally we take the road from north to south, but this time we went south to east – like it was a completely different area! Sometimes it pays to look backwards at where you’ve been Discovered this beautiful boat access that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Plus, we’d had so much warm weather for October that autumn was pretty sketchy for New England – then suddenly the leaves turned – almost over night. We hit a couple of good spots for leaf-peeping.

This top one benefited from cropping. I was moderately successful at removing electrical wires.

This next series was looking north on St. Alban’s Bay – you can see how the cropping helped with more interest.

I fell in love with turning to the left to see what was there – light wasn’t perfect, but I think there’s a lot of interest in the photo.

Better with the cropping.

Some lighting contrast.

I love it in black and white!

Facing the bay, northwest. Light was not great, but I was playing.

A gorgeous Vermont autumn day!

Enlightenment, Part 3

A few interesting discoveries throughout the summer….(personal – feel free to skip)

I am not a religious person, especially when it comes to organized religion of any kind. I may enjoy sitting in a mass for a Holy Day, but that’s more of a sense of comfort than strict belief. I do consider myself spiritual. I had students ask me if I were Christian, and I would answer that I’m human, that I believe there is good in all the world’s religions, and I like to accept those tenets that are good for mankind. My middle school students were not able to handle that answer, but my high schoolers cold grasp what I was saying.

Over the years, the more I read of history the more I got pissed off at religion. Once we realize the Crusades for what they really were – an attack on anything not Christian – we begin to be appalled at the damage Most religions have done. The Inquisition was an vile, horrific attempt to protect the men of the Catholic Church and enforce a way of life that brooked no questioning of any kind. The Troubles in Ireland, the Palestinian question – religion has become politics and politics is now religion. What happened to loving thy neighbor, regardless?

I have been putting my local public library to very good use these days. Since we did our last downsizing, the remaining books are our favoriate, and our art books. It is rare that I buy a book any more…except for what goes on my Kindle. I love standing is a section of the library and just seeing what hits my eye. Two visits ago I discovered a book called Joshua, with a flap that talked about a carpenter who was changing his community. The reviews in the front were excellent – our library puts a sheet for you to score so you have a sense of how people thought about the book. This review was a 10 and said “If only society could be like this.” Based on that recommendation, I picked it up. I finished it that night.

This is an unpretentious story with an extremely [powerful message. Would we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today? It’s written by Neil Girozone, a retired priest (yes, I had my period in the past where I read everything Father Andrew Greeley wrote.) You are lulled into believing Joshua, who has definite ideas on God and His love for His children. Joshua has some stunning conversations – and monologues – about organized religion and how this is NOT what God had in mind for His children. The questioning comes through when the local religious denominations begin to feel threatened by their congregations believing and caring for Joshua. Eventually the case goes all the way to the Pope.

The characters are wonderful – you can see the Biblical parallels, and I for one have met a lot of Catholic priests similar to those in the book. I have been mulling on this since I finished the book. Next trip I picked up Joshua and the Children – his story from the children he teaches to love each other in the midst of a community torn about by religious strife. One can’t help but note the parallels to today’s society – and the book was written in 1985. You can see the conclusion coming, with all the parallels, but this book leaves its promise of success in the mission of the children, whose lives are forever changed.

So all that has gotten me thinking of my place in life right now, in such a tumultuous time. How can I make a difference? Obviously one way is to be kind, listen to those I don’t agree with, enjoy the lives of people I come into contact with. Along with that, I took a master class with Neale Donald Walsch through Mindvalley (Mindvalley.com). This was – dare I say it – life changing. I have a burning desire to read all the Conversations with God books, but none of them are available in my local library, and right now they are too much in the bookstore, even for the Kindle version. Through the master class, Walsch talks about what he calls HEB – highly evolved beings – and he began to describe who and what they are and how we might move along on the evolutionary line to become more evolved. While the class was short, he was able to go through two of the exercises in his 4th book – becoming others and passing each day not for yourself but to make a difference for someone else.

The next day was a day we had several doctor appointments and tests, and as I tried processing his ideas, I realized how far away I am from any kind of HEB – he said himself humanity is only on the two-yard line in evolution and we have a huge way to go. He made me a believer. I was so negative, so impatient, and not recognizing the human being in front of me. This from working at being much more positive in my life. Evidently I am positive when it comes to just me but not when I am am around others. At least I know in my latter decades of teaching I was definitely better at working with my students and their fragile souls…now I have to extend that to all I come into contact with. That was quite the lesson.

Now I am reading (while I wait for Conversations with God) When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Walsch. This is timely, since hubby has open heart surgery in less than two weeks, and life will definitely be changing in both the short and long term. First change – don’t go it alone. I tend to keep to myself and not involve a lot of people in my life, even wen they are good friends. I have come to see that as a result of having to protect myself emotionally while growing up. But I have let a lot of folks know about the surgery, and I realize I can – and will -0 ask for help along the 12-weeks of recovery.

In a nutshell, this is more of the Enlightenment journey since this summer. It doesn’t even include all the science I have been reading – more on that in another post.

Summer and Fall of Enlightenment – Part 2

A lot of new authors this summer – keeping the public library very busy! I think I am done with romance writers for a while – too much new and interesting stuff I am discovering! I do need some new sci fy to keep me busy. But first, Noah Gordon – a new author to me. Started with Shaman – great historical picture of medicine in the 1800’s as well as in-depth looks at life in Indian country, biases/prejudices about native Americans and Jews, Civil War and medicine. Long involved stories, well written, and really great description. This main character had so many dimensions, and a love and dedication to everything involving medicine, even when it meant being a war surgeon on the front lines of the Civil War. The story revolved around the father and son, and you could see the influence of one on the other.

This is the kind of historical fiction I love – broad, sweeping, involved, accurate….all great attributes, and you are very sorry to see it end…another trip to the library for the next book by him. It reminds me of a lot of the historical fiction I read in the 60s and 70s ‘- long historic family stories, great characters, but his later books are so much better in terms of depth of character and involvement. So yeah, it will be hard to go back to basic romance. (D0n’t want to forget to mention Five Smooth Stones from the 60’s – LOVED that book.)

Gordon’s second book was The Physician – absolutely amazing – medicine in the 11th century, with a very detailed look at Jewish life, medieval England, travels to the Middle East, and the role of Islam in teaching medicine. Thoroughly researched, fascinating picture of Jewish and Islamic life entwined, the early study of medicine, and the classical study involved to become a “hakkim” – physician – at the time. I was left at the end of the book thinking about the amazing life this main character led, all he had learned, and he ends up content doctoring in a small herding village in the wilds of Scotland for the rest of his life, as a practicing Christian, after years of immersion masquerading as a Jew. The conflict between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is well-developed, and yet Islam seemed to be the more forgiving of the religions to difference.

I still am processing how I felt/feel about his leaving all the knowledge and learning behind as he retires to Scotland – it kind of coincides with how I feel about not teaching any more. I’m retired, but I still feel like I have much to contribute. When I have the learning that Rob Cole had, how could I leave it for the rest of my life? After this I read The Last Jew about Jewish life in Spain during the Inquisition. Some of the same thoughts- such a revelation about Jewish life, the Inquisition, and the horrid excesses and cruelty of the Inquisition and the Catholic Church. I am once again appalled at the excesses and intractability of organized religion, which has led to some more of my readings in other ares – for other blog posts.Now I am reading what turns out to be his first book from 1965 called The Rabbi.  Not nearly with the complexity of his later books, but still a good character study.

I am jealous at his ability to write such descriptive phrases – so I set myself a task to see something each day and try to describe it – which I do and it seems so “straight-forward” and bland (as did Hemingway) , but then I try and turn it into a simile or metaphor just to play around with the words…interesting how quickly I seem to go for a cliche – so something for me to work on. Love me my word play!

 

…and in looking for these, I discovered a third Cole book in a trilogy – Matters of Choice – need to get back to the library!

Summer and Fall of “Enlightenment”

Thoughts on NANOWRIMO – yes, it’s November…..been thinking about this for most of October and trying to decide what – and how – I will approach things. November 1 – I don’t have a lot of luck working through the month each day, as witnessed by the last two years of not accomplishing anything – or not even trying.  So I think for this year I want to concentrate on writing my 1637 words each day – on rewrites, character studies, essays, blog posts – just getting back in the habit of writing regularly. I know two years ago I stopped on Book 2 because I had no idea where a lot of the plot was going, what the various story lines were….and then there is so much crap happening right now in the world that sometimes it seemed pointless…but my characters need some resolution, and I still have stories to tell.

So – things to write about –
* the books I have been reading since summer began

*conversations with God and the Joshua books
*science books
*where I seem to be evolving as a result of the changes in this country
*coping with changes in my life with illness with hubby
*writing concerning my art – especially blog posts – need to get regular again, as it does bring in more business, and a big show coming up
*newsletter for MTD
*pictures from this summer
*my own racism

It’s been a long while for writing a blog post, but not for doing art – a brief time off after the last baby quilt was done, and then back to a new baby quilt in September, and now three new pieces finished this week – feels good to be working again. The funny thing about the blog posts – for the last two years I have been 200 blog posts away from a 1000 posts – this year only 82. Should have been a snap, right? Well…..no. That just seems to be an impossible goal. Gonna be workin’ it this month….

We have so many shows coming up, starting with two small pieces tomorrow, two pieces for a January-April show, January/February for one of the community libraries, the US attorney’s office in Burlington, and a bunch more. While helping hubby recuperate in December  from open heart surgery there will be a lot of time on the machine. I have some large pieces that need to be finished, and a major inventory to do of what goes to what show, without much repetition. Also, big art fest show in less than two weeks, and stuff to prepare for that – two patterns to write and put together, inventory for Square (and to figure that out), and the packing for the show.

There’s a l0t of good stuff going on art-wise. After all these years, we have finally found a decent way to package the fabrics – good for pictures, easy for people to see the various pieces, and we have some consistent sizes. Also, by mounting the finished pieces on canvas, we now have people thinking more about the fiber as wall art – a big jump in perception.

The three pieces from this past week – you can see in the upper portion what hasn’t been stitched. It is amazing just how much depth you get with the addition of batting and stitching. This is part of our “Leftover” series – paint left in the bottom of the tray when we clean it up. Once I add thread to it (and I used double batting for this one) it makes the piece come alive.

All the while doing this I was very aware of not having a focal point – I’ve been concentrating on that as I’m out taking pictures. It seemed like there was a consistent white stretch running from upper right to lower left – I saw it as a river, and as I used a light blue thread it started taking on some dimension, but ultimately I didn’t think the river was dark enough, and I wasn’t happy with other colors of blue that I had – so I used some of the India ink I’ve been suing for suminagashi and used a simple wash throughout the river – just the dimension I wanted.

This part for sizing/mounting canvas just didn’t seem to work. I assumed the canvas I had was an 11 x 14, and the piece was bigger than that. Hubby didn’t want to lose the lower left because of the effect, so we went and bought a 12 x 16. Turns out when we got home, that was already what I had…so it was back out for a 16 x 20. Great batik for the canvas covering, and between the binding and the extra border around the canvas, it looks like two mats for the frame. Happy with it!

Introducing: “A River Runs Through It.” $125.00 plus postage. 16 x 20 inches.

We have these wonderful polyester black linen pieces that marbne wonderfully, and I finished two of those – simple, easy to complete – not a great deal of stitching – just enough to emphasize what I want for a theme. Now they are part of a definite series – the “Moonlight” series Simple, easy to complete, and elegant.

Moonlit Garden, just starting the stitching. Finished size 8 x 10 inches.

Finished piece Moonlit Garden, $65.00 plus postage.

Finished Piece – Moonlit Winds, 8 x 8 inches. $65.00 plus postage.

Now to go through a lot of my works in progress – like the Iceberg piece – to get a couple of big pieces started/completed for show next year.

 

 

Personal Color Studies

Been house-sitting/parent sitting for the past week, with no real access to projects, so I pulled out the markers and coloring books – which I haven’t touched in over a year – that craze passed quickly! It kept me occupied through a bunch of hours of the Hallmark Channel…a refreshing change, but after three movies I realized I’ve written those plots before.

The “have to be perfect” part of me was busy at work until I said “WAIT! These are color studies, you are just playing, yada yada yada….” I still can get stuck (very easily, it seems) in a rut of criticism. So the first of my efforts is on the left. Once again I realize how much I can appreciate white space (literally)…and I got smacked in the face with a focal point – usually my trouble spot. My eye in this one went right to the light blue when all was finished. I had done all the small circles first, and then accented around them with yellow.  Overall I am pleased with the various color combinations – trying out some other colors for a change.

Number 2 – two colors, although I started with the intent to do blues and oranges – a favorite combo from a year ago when I was playing. As you can see, I only used two and then STOPPED – I do have trouble knowing when I am at the end….Very Cat in the Hat effect, I think. I do like it. It was hard to stop and not add some other color – but I do find this pleasing, and that’s what this exercise was about….right??? “Of course, right!” (Nod to “Fiddler…”)

I was also pleased with the white space on this next one. In other colors – more subdued browns and golds – it would remind me of William Morris. As it is, would be a nice wall paper border – too much for a full wall!

Interesting choice of colors on my part – I’m not really an orange/violet person, but I am really starting to like ORANGE – need more in my stash!!

Last piece – not finished but happy with where it was going. Biggest issue….I keep wanting to fill in some of the white space in the little pockets between the ribbons. I get into the “If I don’t like it, I’ve ruined it” mode, which makes no sense, since this is an exercise…..ah, how that inner critic can be so busy!!

Till next time when I don’t have other projects – no more color studies….except winter is coming….lots of time for activities away from the sewing machine be=ut still inside……

Spring Open Studios in Vermont

This year for Spring Open Studios we traveled ourselves to see what was in the neighborhood, including immediately down the street where I lived when we were dating. Precision Studio and Theresa Somerset made me seriously hyperventilate – she is amazing, the studio is to dye for!

Her dyeing areas and assorted tools:

Pieces of eggs she has decorated – basically no egg is safe!

Mixed media work – this has so many amazing techniques incorporated into it.

Completed Eggs:Theresa’s photography set-up:

More mixed media work – part of a Vermont Arts Council challenge:

More mixed media – the puzzle piece was part of a state-wide challenge.

Who knew you could find an amazing sculpture garden in the heart of Winooski, Vermont? I could have sat there forever! Gorgeous property surrounded on two sides by tall cedars for privacy.

My favorite piece!

Also a visit to in Jericho – GREAT location, wonderful grounds! I loved this shelf for all the shapes and glazes.

Last stop for the weekend was John Churchman and his farm, where the sheep were being fleeced as we watched. She managed 20 sheep in three hours, with lots of skins to feel. It’s a great working farm, but John is also known for his photography and his children’s books about Sweet Pea. Fun fun time!

Who Knew “Women’s Work” Would Be So Controversial?

There is a law office in town where we have displayed our fiber work in the past. We were asked to add 3-4 larger pieces for one of the walls to go through mid-October. The three pieces we decided on are to the left. Given that we have a solo show and two other venues for our work over the next 6 weeks, we were careful as to what we chose.

We have two wall hangings that use traditional quilt blocks, but are made with marbled fabrics and heavily free motion quilted. The third piece is our “Women’s Work,” done as a call to the Threads of Resistance. It wasn’t accepted for the national show, so we started thinking about where we could display the work (Vermont Quilt Show next June…).

Keep in mind there have never been any restrictions on what goes in the law office, but I’m sure they were expecting Vermont bridges, barns and landscapes. That’s been their usual fare, but our fiber has been very well received there. We framed a small artists’ statement about the design of the quilt and all the meaning. You can read about that here.

I know the quilt could be potentially controversial, but it certainly isn’t “in your face” like so many of the quilts accepted in the Threads of Resistance show…and what better place than in a law office? First Amendment, women attorneys who no doubt had some struggle because of their gender in law school…seemed like a good fit.

Not the case…our wonderful organizer met us Friday to hang all the works, and then Monday morning called to say the work was taken down on Friday because the law office “felt it could offend some of their clients.” Okay…. So Wednesday we went to retrieve our work, having decided to take all the work down and leave them with a blank wall. When we got there, the two quilt pieces were evenly spaced along the wall and looked really nice. The secretary/legal assistant greeted me and said she would get my quilt. In the meantime hubby took down the other two pieces. She was disappointed that we were taking those – “they’re so pretty.” At which point I said, “I’ll leave those two pieces if you let me put a statement up in the blank spot that says the office was worried about offending clients.”

“Oh, no,” she replied. “That’s not it at all. This office is apolitical.”

To which I replied (one of the few times I was really on my game with a comeback…) “We can’t afford to be apolitical in this climate. Are you familiar with the famous poem about the Holocaust?” I quoted several lines and then ended with the last line “…and then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” I added, “I thought you would be more supportive of the First Amendment.”

So now I have officially welcomed the cachet of banned artist. I know this is but a ripple, but ripples lead to waves, and waves lead to tsunamis. Here’s the Holocaust poem in its entirety.

This should be a warning to us all…who will speak for us when we are the only ones left?

The 40th Birthday Quilt (not mine….I wish…..)

This was actually the 7th project for this spring, and I got everything done – and then some – although not necessarily on time…..

I promised our good friend and “almost son” a quilt for his 40th birthday, which was May 18 (sent around mid-June – not too bad….) He and most of my Peter Pan cast from 1990 turned 40 this year….Needless to say, I am feeling rather old….

I saw a pattern by Leah Day for a bargello which I’ve always wanted to make – problem was it was 24 by 64 inches – not wide enough for a lap quilt. By the way, her patterns are EXCEPTIONALLY well done. I made the center panel, learned a couple of tricks, and then decided on adding a panel to each side to make it snuggle-able for two.

A good friend gave me rolls of fabrics from her stash, so I had great fun choosing fabrics – two sets before I came up with the colors I wanted. A lot of careful cutting and piecing to get the design I wanted – again, learned a lot, got great points and connections, and figured out how to change the order for a new wall hanging.

Close-up of all the free motion quilting – went through one whole chalk liner doing those grids…and I got better acquainted with my walking foot – no more using regular foot when stabilizing quilt tops.

Seattle Lights

Accented without detracting…..

Love you, Scotty Whips!!

 

The Year (so far) for Baby Quilts

Two quilts for teachers at a school I used to teach at – I just did the quilting. The best quilt was the remake of a quilt given to my best friend of 43 years when she had her son some 35 years ago. He just became a daddy for the first time on July 1. The quilt was shipped June 30 – cutting it close! Kathy took her quilt apart from 35 years ago, repaired blocks, and completely changed the setting, sashing, and borders. It is really gorgeous and was quite a hit with the new parents. Visit a baby quilt here and here.

Two of the teachers who made the blocks above I taught with – so some nice connectivity.

Love doing this for folks! Welcome to the world, Miles! Congrats Jen and Tucker!

Contemplative – Personal, so skip if you wish……

free motion quilting practice

This has been an interesting two months of contemplation, not just on politics, which will certainly govern how I live the rest of my life, but also in terms of how to lead the best possible life in the years I have left. Note to self – aiming for three digits. The work on the resistance quilt brought up a lot of unresolved issues concerning emotional abuse by my mother ever since I can remember. The work I’m doing in attempting to lose weight talks about getting to the root of whatever is unconsciously holding you back. It’s my relationship with my mother.

So between energy work, meditation, reading, and hypnosis, I am coming to terms with issues. I feel mentally healthier. I am slowly letting go of some of the dramatic episodes – I no longer hyperventilate when that issue rears its head. It has been an extremely productive 6 months for art, although not for writing. My mantra needs to be “writing, creating, marketing every day.” I

know I need to get a therapist to help me bring closure as a result of the work I have done so far. Especially after Saturday – I was scheduled to teach a free motion quilting class, and I called on Friday at 11:30 AM to see if it was still canceled, as she had called about it the week prior. No, it was a go. So I hurry around getting ready, and when I show up Saturday morning, there are only two paid students. When I asked her since she knew one canceled the night before, why she didn’t cancel, she verbally attacked me, saying that I owed a class to those who had paid, it was my responsibility, I owed it to those who had paid. I was so stunned at her attack I wasn’t able to respond.

Gaslighting, just like my mother always did to me. I realized that was what had shut me down – I was being attacked in the same way by someone else. Yes, I need to definitely figure out how to bring closure to my family issues, but I also need to do what’s right for me when I’m teaching. After time to think about it, I emailed and asked her to send the check – she didn’t even have it ready for me because I was in the way of the printer during class. I told her to cancel the August class, as we had already talked about that, and she knows from experience that classes don’t go in the summer. If she decides to call me to schedule new classes, there will be a contract for her to sign. She also didn’t want to make copies for me (a total of 12) since she is leasing a printer and it costs her money. Keep in mind she is getting 30% of the class fee and I told her I was holding strong at a class of at least 3 in order for it to be a go.

The contract will indicate a whole bunch of things: she gets 25% if she doesn’t want to raise the class fee, she will make copies as needed, and anything less than three students the morning of the class, she will cancel it. If someone doesn’t show and doesn’t call, I receive half the class amount to compensate me for my time. (Yes, one of the two for the class didn’t show….that’s $7.00 an hour for my work…positive me, I may have a lead to teach in another shop.) Usually I have been able to work very simply with people in the field, but her personality is not right for me or her long-time customers and business. Lesson learned….

Thoughts are welcome….

“Experimenting with Textiles”

I am currently (like right now) watching a video from the fellows who bring you textileartist.org. I’ve subscribed for several years, and they are introducing a series of videos on finding your voice with your textiles. So far, 11 minutes into the video, I can see the various paths I have taken and why I had problems with them.

First, early on in working with stitching on marbled fabrics, I felt intimidated by mo own machine quilting skills, and I felt like I needed to do a huge amount of practice on smaller pieces before I came to the bigger works I wanted to do. A cyber friend kindly said to me – do the work you want and the skills will follow….and so they did. I started weaving strips of marbled fabric after I machine-quilted them, and I didn’t look back.

Second, I’ve always experimented with lots of techniques – marbling happened to be the latest one (embroidery, knitting, crocheting, painting), but the marbling hooked and and hubby. Now I have a body of work that utilizes marbled fabric and new means of quilting and embellishing. I picked up bead work only in the sense it could add to the overall design.

Lots of ups and downs in learning and trying to determine a niche for ourselves, as well as work within limitations of what we could afford.  I finally decided that what other marblers do is fine – so is our work in its own unique way. I didn’t want to marble paper – I wanted fabric – first limitation, and we made it work. We perfected our style on white fabric – very unforgiving – a second limitation.

How can I push the boundaries of the basics? Hubby and I laugh about what I have him end of trying to marble – “pushing” to do ribbon, silk flowers, canvas…all because I don’t want to waste paint in the marbling tray. Lots of additional projects opened up, mostly with embellishing what we were already creating. Any new techniques were pursued in how they could expand our marbled fiber art.

Making marbled art is expensive –  a pound of carrageenan is about $50.00 now. So because of our extremely limited financial capabilities we had to work within a very tight budget – and we succeeded. Looking at a display of our work several months ago, both of us marveled at what we were able to create with so little resources.

Embracing what we can do on our limited budget led me to learn how to manipulate my 1008 Bernina workhorse sewing machine to do what I wanted it to do. Yes, I miss “needle down” and variable speed….but my skill with this basic machine has led me to teach very successful machine quilting classes to folks who think they can’t machine quilt unless they have a long-arm or other fancy sit-down machine.

In terms of skill level, I am completely self-taught, with only one marbling class from a master (Galen Berry). Everything else has been trial and error….no color theory of design, so I started with putting everything with black fabric. Hubby has the color sense, and I slowly came around to improving mine. Now I can put marbled fabrics with a range of other colors and designs. I attended a workshop with Tony Conner, water colorist extraordinaire, who talked us through a painting he created. It was like a design class with a master, listening to him talk through his decisions. I kept referring to pieces I was working on to see that I was naturally doing some of the design elements. I was trusting my “eye” and myself.

You owe it to yourself to watch the first of these videos – maybe you are new to the idea of limitations. We had natural limitations through finances imposed on us, and it led to who we are as artists now. Check out our web page to see our range of work. Find textileartist.org on Facebook and get your free video.

PS – no more pima cotton fabric, special order didn’t work because it was too light, so we “over-marbled”…and it’s good to go…..making due with a limitation……

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