Friday, November 5, 2010

Shopped till I dropped!

After my initial post, I never got back to blogging about my visit to the Houston Quilt Festival...many weeks later, here it is....

For a quilter, there is nothing like fabric shopping at the Houston Quilt Festival. If it exists in the quilting world, it is there.

The first day I shopped, I bought some hand-dyed wool selvedge bundles from Mary Flanagan Woolens. As I passed by her booth again, I decided that I just had to have more of them - when will I ever see them again? Since they are only $2.50 a bundle, it was not an expensive decision (which is a good thing because, well, the picture speaks for itself, lol). I didn't know what I was going to do with them - I just had to have them!

Cherrywood is one of my very favorite booths - their hand-dyed fabrics and delicious bundles of coordinated colors are irresistable! I've been using their fabrics for a lot of the stencil techniques I've been coming up with and love that the fabric/dyes respond well to everything I put on it. I sometimes purchase through their web site but there is nothing like "hands-on" fabric shopping.

Two other booths that I always make a point of visiting are Laura Murray Designs and Artistic Artifacts. Laura Murray takes apart vintage kimonos and overdyes the fabrics. The results are fabulous, interesting pieces of silk that can be used for all kinds of projects. I'm a big fan of her "scrap bags" - they are always full of great pieces and unusual colors. Laura Murray is also a Paintsticks expert with terrific books & videos on the topic. Artistic Artifacts sells a wide variety of vintage fabrics, trims & goodies and their booth is an endless adventure. My favorite item is their bundles of hand-dyed vintage textiles. They take old doilies, hankies, dishtowels, laces and other vintage textiles and dye them in coordinated, gradated bundles. Each bundle is unique and contains a LOT of fabric and trim. I've used them to make tote bags, quilts, vests, garment embellishments, gifts, and more. The hardest part about shopping in their booth is maintaining self-control (yeah, right, as if I can... at least I can pretend that I tried!).

Another thing that caught my eye was the booths full of hand-dyed wool. I tried to talk myself out of starting to collect yet another type of fabric but, in the end, I folded (ha ha, a little fabric pun). Before I left Houston I had made significant progress on a "penny" quilt mat and I'm working on another one, trying to make it using all flower shapes. I'm going to work on it while I'm on the mend (it's all hand work) and will post pictures of both next week.
I also bought two new gizmos towards the end of the year - the L Letterpress machine and a Felting/Embellisher machine. I've yet to unpack either but am looking forward to playing with both (of course, I had to buy roving in a lot of colors to use with the embellisher.... I swear, it all started when I was a kid with that box of 64 Crayola crayons. I was never satisfied with the box of 16, I had to have the box of 64, I needed ALL the addiction that continues).

Needless to say, I did my part to support the quilt industry while I was in Houston!

To catch you up on my sudden disappearance... I had been having some problems with weakness in my left arm which was getting progressively worse through November. Steve & I went on a Carribean cruise after Thanksgiving and I nearly dropped a plate after going through the buffet line. One doctor visit led to another with a whole alphabet of tests, CT, MRI, EMG, etc., all resulting in the decision that my weakness was caused by pinched nerves in my neck from two herniated discs and a bone spur. On January 3rd, I had surgery to fix the problem and I am now at home, recovering. I can already feel an improvement in my arm and am relieved to have the surgery behind me. The weakness was exhausting & I have done very little in my studio since October because of it. My goal is to recover from my surgery and regain energy for creative endeavors. I'm thankful to have such wonderful doctors who have been genuinely concerned about me and how to make things better.

Time for a little rest... I'll post again next week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Houston Quilt Festival

Last night was the opening of the Houston Quilt Festival show floor - it's as amazing as I remember! I haven't been for a few years and I didn't realize just how much I missed it until I walked in last night.

I decided to spend the first night visiting my favorite vendors so I could shop from their best selection. When I'm at a show, I shop only for unusual supplies and things I need to see or feel (shopping on line for fabric just doesn't always work). I loaded up on hand-dyed fabrics and scrap bags (I love scraps!). One of my favorite finds was at a vendor who hand-dyes wool. She was selling bundles of selveges - they have wonderful lettuce like edges and were very inexpensive. I have a couple of ideas brewing about what I'll do with them.

As I hauled my treasures back to my hotel I thought I had shopped enough & that my next day would be spent just enjoying the quilts. However, after a little playing with my new finds, I'm hungry for more. I'm sure I missed a lot last night - visiting the show floor will be a new adventure today. There's plenty of time to look at the finished quilts tomorrow...

Last night, I picked up a one pound bag of long skinny scraps at the Cherrywood booth (amazing hand-dyed fabrics). As I was considering the colors, another quilter looked at them and asked me "What will you do with those? They are SO skinny!". I told her that I don't have to know what I want to do with things, the possibilities are enough for me.

So, here I am in Houston, shopping for I-don't-know-what, bringing home the adventure of new materials, to continue my journey to I-don't-know-where, finding joy in the possibilities that surround me. Quilter's bliss.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My yarn garden...

The book from my last entry was "100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet" (I did only crocheted flowers as I don't knit). I had fun shopping for the yarn and selected lightweight ones, like baby yarn and sock yarn. The book doesn't give specifics on yarn types or hook sizes so it was a matter of experimentation & finding what I was comfortable with. I settled on an "E" hook. I have my Nana's tiny hooks that she used for making doilies & teeny tiny flowers but I can't yet master using such a little hook (and I treasure the teeny flowers I have that she made even more!).

So, here's my little garden of flowers. I have no idea of what I will use them for but they were fun to make. My favorite is the large daisy-ish flower. The marigold (orange flower) is my least favorite - I don't think I'll be making any of those again! The instructions in the book were very good - even better were the illustrations showing small schematics of each flower, stitch by stitch. I know I will be referring back to this book for future projects.

On to this week's book.... "layered, tattered & stitched" by Ruth Rae. I love the look of a torn edge, be it fabric or paper. This book features projects with raw, sometimes frayed, edges. It sets aside all the rules of quilting that involve square corners & finished edges, encouraging experimentation and the creation of rich, layered projects.

I recently picked up some new hand-dyed vintage textiles at a quilt show - perfect for using in projects from this book. Check back to see what I've come up with!

Anyone heading to the Houston Quilt Festival? I am happy to report that I am going this year and that I even managed to score a room at the Hilton Americas (the one attached to the convention center). I haven't been able to go for a few years and I am super excited about the trip. There is nothing like the HQF! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

class with Maya

Yes, I did take the class with Maya and it was great! She is such a gentle, peaceful soul, don't you think? She brought piles of things to play with - it's amazing what can be made from cereal boxes & newspapers!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paper projects & what's next...

I had fun with the projects in "Playing With Books". I didn't make anything complicated - just a few simple ones. I love my new pencil cup - I just rolled pages of a book & added little strips of color to give it some pizzazz. I glued them around a cardboard tube. Cute & quick.

I cut a bunch of circles from the magazine "Above" which prints on paper that is NOT clay coated - that makes it perfect for collage or other paper projects because it doesn't wrinkle like regular magazine pages. "Boho" magazine is another great magazine that uses the non-clay coated paper. Back to my circles... I cut a bunch of circles of varying sizes between 1" - 2". Ran a string between two circles & glued them together - keep going down the length of string with more circles for a fun and colorful garland. What a cute party decoration it would make...

Finally, I made an adorable paper flower out of book pages. It just takes a few simple folds to make a petal section - glue five sections together for the whole flower.

I love creating with simple, sometimes cast-off items. At the Squam art conference I took a class that was all about making art out of humble materials like cereal boxes, paper tubes and burlap sacks. Creative recycling at it's best!

"Playing With Books" also includes more complex projects like carving pages into beautiful sculptural works and cutting books into shapes with a band saw. I wasn't feeling that ambitious but have enjoyed reading about the work and seeing the photos. Some pretty amazing stuff.

The next book I'll be working from is "100Flowers to Knit & Crochet" by Lesley Stanfield. I read about it on Jenny Doh's blog and ordered it about two minutes later. Look at those yummy flowers on the cover! My Nana (my Mom's mother) used to crochet teeny flowers, I have a few forget-me-nots that she made out of fine crochet cotton. I'll be working with yarn - I've never been able to master working with the teeny crochet hooks used with crochet cotton. I'm looking forward to making a little garden of flowers to have as a stash of embellishments for future projects.
I'm also getting ready to head to Houston for the Quilt Festival. I haven't been there for a few years and am SO looking forward to being inspired by the fabulous quilts on display (and, of course, tempted by the offerings of the vendors!).
Hope you enjoyed reading about my projects! Happy autumn...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Back to Books...

My blog started with project called "Bookworm 52" and the original plan was to make one project a week from a book selected from my personal library. I did pretty well sticking to that at the beginning and then I drifted into other things. I decided it's time to return to the original plan - at least for this week, anyway.

"Playing With Books" (Quarry) by Jason Thompson is chock full of an amazing array of projects to make out of books. I've selected several projects that I'll be working on over the next few days & will post pictures when I'm done. I'm also thinking that some of the projects will translate nicely to fabric so I'm going to play with that a little bit too.

Speaking of paper... I couldn't resist buying the L Letterpress machine. I picked it up last week and can't wait to play with it! It's pretty much like a small die cut machine but instead of putting metal dies in the machine, you put raised images that look a lot like clear rubber stamps (the ones you mount on lucite blocks). I'm thinking I can use it for paper lithography also - something I really loved doing in my printmaking class earlier this year. Lots of plans for fun things.... anyone know how I can add a day to the week?

I'm anxious to start my playing with book pages... until next time, keep crafting!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sticks and Stones

I love the idea of working in a series. Most of my "series" work has been in collage but I did one six-piece art quilt series, titled "Sticks and Stones". This series hangs in our accounting office and draws many comments. I've had offers from people who want to purchase one or two of them but I can't break them up (in my case, the idea of "starving artist" applies because I can't bear to part with some things, my bad). I just feel like they belong together.

"Sticks and Stones" came about after having a conversation with a client who had gone through a difficult divorce. As I listened to her long list of divorce and ex-husband related reasons for not being able to get her life together (I'm not talking about a horrific story of abuse, just to clarify), I thought of how she was carrying around the "stones" of her past, weighing her down and making it more difficult to move forward. I listened to her talk about past hurts and saw that she bore the emotional scars of those "sticks".

Now, I am already prepared for all the comments about how difficult divorce can be and how some spouses (not only wives) sometimes suffer greatly as a result of their partners' actions. I am sympathetic and I do not intend to make light of anyone's gut wrenching heartache or the devastating abuses of some nightmare marriages. However, I do feel that one has to focus on finding the path forward - a journey made easier without "sticks and stones".

Imagine if each burden were an actual stone, carried in a bag, dragging behind as you tried to make it through life. Imagine each stick of past hurts, criss-crossing the paths you are attempting to negotiate. Imagine how much easier the journey would be if you would cast away the stones and break the sticks into twigs. That is what I mean.

I am a forward-looking optimist and believe in the power of a new day. Each day begins fresh and clean, waiting for us to work our way through the joys and challenges that lie ahead. I like to set goals, even small ones, because I enjoy the satisfaction of checking things off the "list". I don't spend much time lamenting over what happened in the past because there is nothing I can do to change it. At the risk of abusing metaphors, I like to think of how a car windshield, which we look forward through, is huge, as compared to the rear-view mirror, which we use to look at what is behind us, is so small. That's how I like to think of today and yesterday. Huge possibilities ahead, distant problems behind me. Foot on the gas, moving forward (ugh! I know, I know, but it just fit what I wanted to more metaphors in this post)

Everyone faces challenges in life. What matters is how we choose to deal with them. Making the conscious choice to cast off burdensome "sticks and stones" is critical to finding both the emotional and physical strength to move forward and embrace life's possibilities.

I have another quilt hanging in the office, done in warm peachy-pinky-yellow tones. Stamped on the quilt are the words "Believe in the Power of a New Day". Words to live by.

Write your problem on an actual rock or actual stick with a Sharpie marker. Head to a local lake & tell the problem rock that you refuse to grant it power over your tomorrow. Then kiss the rock good-bye & hurl it far into the lake. Break the stick into little bits & crush them with your foot as you tell it you are done letting it have any control over you. Then dance around a little and celebrate your weight loss. Set some goals & get going!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Love My Stash!

I love my fabric stash! This picture only shows part of it, just the fat quarters & 1/2 yard cuts. There is a small bookcase to the right that holds 2 yard pieces and the green bins at the top hold 1 yard cuts. And that is only what is in this part of my studio...

I once figured out how many pieces I have in fat quarters in this cabinet - there are twelve sections across and seven high and an average of eighteen fabrics per slot for a total guesstimate of around FIFTEEN HUNDRED different fabrics in this cabinet alone (I was again so astonished by that number that I had to do the math several times to be sure it was correct).

And that is certainly not all of it. Holy Mackeral.
Here's more... the one yard cuts in the green bins.

My quilter friends totally understand this - we have been elbow to elbow at quilt shows, rifling through row after row of fabric, starting out "just looking' and leaving with a few more yards that we have no plans for.

My non-quilter friends, however, don't quite get it.

Even with all of this fabric I sometimes find myself stuck for a piece in just the right color or scale. Not just any 'ol green will do, it has to be the perfect shade, the right visual texture. It's the same thing with ribbon - it can be tricky to find the perfect combination of color, pattern and width - and then to have enough of it!

Some days, when I've had a long work day and have no energy left to create when I get home, I will head to my studio just to visit my stash. Sometimes I'll pull out fabric and try different combinations. Other times I'll just re-arrange things so the "rainbow" of my cabinet looks better. Sometimes I just sit in the quiet & look at it - my version of meditation.

I have been collecting fabric for a lot of years and I have many pieces that are especially memorable and I can remember where I bought it or some detail of its purchase. As I write this I realize that it makes me sound a little dotty ... which reminds me of the time I had a very difficult time finding red fabric with 1/2" white dots for the Humpty Dumpty doll I made for my granddaughter (I was trying to replicate her mother's much loved one from her own childhood). I finally found it from a vendor at the Northern Star Quilt Show - she had 1/4 yard cuts rolled up & stuck in a small metal pail. Crazy that I remember that, isn't it?
When I was a kid, I was thrilled to have the "big box" of 64 Crayola crayons - I loved having every color of crayons (my favorite was, and still is, "Midnight Blue") and I love having every color of fabric just as much. Makes me one happy girl, it does!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Coloring My World....

I recently attended the Craft & Hobby Association trade show in Chicago. It is a wholesale show, mainly for manufacturers to showcase their new products and for retail craft businesses to buy for their stores.

While waiting to cross the street, I noticed that fourteen of the twenty people standing with me were wearing either all black or black and white (myself included). I found it kind of interesting because this is a gathering of people whose businesses are all about creativity and who buy pencils, paper, paint, inks, ribbons, etc., in every color they come in. I got to thinking about why I wear mostly black and thought of other creative people, like Donna Karan, Michael Kors, and Karl Lagerfeld, who all dress in almost only black. For myself, I wear black because it is easy. I know I will look neat and professional without a lot of fuss. As I thought of the designers mentioned above, I thought that maybe they dress in black so they can save their creative energies for their work, not wanting to spend a drop of it on their own attire. I once described myself as a visual contradiction - wearing black on the outside while thinking in rainbows underneath.

My trip to Chicago was followed by six days in Las Vegas - I decided to spend part of my stay in search of colorful things to photograph... here's what I found, starting with breakfast...

I love room service breakfast. And I love it even more when there are fresh flowers on the table, even if they are humble chrysthanthemums! My room service breakfast at the Aria in Las Vegas arrived with these sunny flowers. What a lovely way to start my day (by the way, the Aria is fabulous - the bed is like a huge poufy marshmallow - you won't want to leave it!).

Later in the week, I roamed around in search of colorful things to photograph. The windows of the boutique at The Paris held these beautiful dresses. It was an eye catching display of gorgeous dresses in happy colors. Makes me want to have a fancy party just so I have a reason to buy one for myself.
These colored almonds at the Jean Philippe Pastry shop at the Aria - they reminded me of the dresses in the window. The store was also full of colorful cakes and candies (all which would make it difficult to fit into the dresses shown above, lol). They were beautiful to look at though!
I headed over to The Bellagio for a visit to their fabulous garden atrium. I've been there a few times and the floral display is always amazing. Gigantic glass poppies towered over gardens filled with golden dwarf sunflowers, blue salvia, cherry red impatiens and bromeliads with red, yellow, purple & hot pink blooms. What caught my attention there, however, was the subtle colors of the succulent gardens - the gray blue greens with touches of pinkish lavender. Even the rocks behind them are full of color, though they appear just gray at first glance.

Later, I visited the lobby at The Bellagio and its breathtaking ceiling installation of Chilhuly glass flowers - hundreds of them in every imaginable color. It is really impossible to do it justice in a photograph but here's as good an example as I could manage.

These are but a few of the hundreds of photos I took as I searched for color in Las Vegas... I'm sure that some element of these photos will show up in a future quilt or collage project.

I'm back home now, still dressing in black but thinking in rainbows...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Two yummy books...

Two new books I've found are SO full of fabulous work and inspiration - truly delicious stuff!Collage artists and Art Quilt artists will both find inspiration in either book - so much about composition crosses between the two media.

1000 Artisan Textiles (Quarry) is a visual feast of color and texture. Selected works include close up photos to show terrific detail so the reader can really study the work. There are no "how to" instructions in this book but page after page will take your imagination on a journey that needs no direction. There is an abundance of felted work that showcases the endless possibilities of working in felt. And, hundreds of art quilts show a wide array of techniques, serving to prove just how much this medium has grown. This is a book that I will visit again and again to appreciate the fabulous work and to seek inspiration for my own. Delicious stuff - really!

Masters Collage (Lark) is another visual feast that will jump start your imagination. The book showcases the collage work of forty artists (including my friend, the wonderfully talented Liz Cohn). Collage artists are great recyclers and I am always interested to see how they "upcycle" common items into art. This is another terrific book that I will visit many times over. Another yummy book for my library!

I started working in collage about fifteen years ago. At that time, I was able to find only TWO books on collage. My how times have changed! There are countless books on collage, journaling, mixed media and related creative methods now. While much of the material crosses over from one book to the next, I always find something new and interesting in each one. New materials lead to new techniques and there is no end to the imagination of creative minds.
Speaking of creative minds.... have you been watching "Work of Art"??? How about "Project Runway"??? I am hooked on both shows (and I'm loving On the Road with Austin & Santino, also). I just love hearing about the challenges, thinking about what I might do, and watching what the artists/designers come up with. I find it fascinating to watch someone else's creative process unfold.
I hear some fabric calling to me..... time to see what I can come up with today!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back to books...

Perhaps some of you have been wondering what happened to the "Bookworm 52" project that got me to start my blog... (projects/reviews from 52 books in 52 weeks)...
If you recall, that whole thing started because I was feeling uninspired and directionless in my work. My hope was that by selecting a series of projects & books, and blogging about them, that it would get me moving again. Well, it worked and I'm back to making huge messes in my studio as I work on several projects at once and my brain is once again filled with more ideas than I could complete in ten lifetimes.

I am not, however, going to abandon the "Bookworm 52" idea completely because I think it is still a worthwhile project. I will write about a couple of books a month and do a project from each of them to share with you. I have a huge library of craft/art/quilting books so I know I'll never run out of books to work with!

My newest book is "How To Be An Explorer of The World" by Keri Smith. The subtitle is "Portable Life Museum". The back cover says "At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting". It is basically a book about making detailed observations of things from every day life - and journaling about them. The book has 59 prompts intended to get you started - one of the pages I like is "anywhere can be a starting place, start where you are". I have a trip coming up and I'm planning to take this book with me and do as many of the prompts as I can while I'm gone. I'm going to record my explorations and will share my journal with you when I'm done. It will be a fun exercise & I'm guessing it will make me a much more observant traveler!

It looks like a fun book and I'm looking forward to following the "explorations". Here's to REALLY paying attention to what is going on around me!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset...

Sunrise, sunset... a beginning and an end...
My last summer class at Parson's is tomorrow. It has been wonderful to learn so much about garment design and construction! I'm sorry it is coming to a close but will return to Parson's in the fall for more classes. I'm hungry to learn more!

For my final project I'm making a little summer dress. It is still in pieces but I'll get it mostly finished tonight. Only one other person is working in "real" fabric, the rest are working in muslin. I just can't get interested in making a dress in muslin! Anyway, I'm loving it so far. I'll post photos of the finished dress next week.

Back to the sunrise... this beautiful sunrise greeted us a couple of weeks ago as our cruise sailed into Bermuda. The light was AMAZING (my camera didn't do it justice). It reminded me of the light in old paintings. And, as if that weren't enough, there was a big fat rainbow! I'm not usually an early bird but I'm glad I was that morning.

One of the things I loved about Bermuda was the striking colors of the flowers against the colors of the homes with their crisp white roofs. It just all looks so joyful!

My sister, Valerie, and I visited a tiny beach with a huge treat - PILES of beach glass! I had read about it on the internet and both of us were excited about finding it. As it turns out, it was easy to find (though out of the way). Our taxi driver seemed amused that we had so much fun collecting broken glass. We each left with two bags of glass and you couldn't even tell we had been there! I haven't sorted through it yet and I don't have specific plans but I do know that I have a terrific stash of beach glass to play with.

The time in Bermuda flew by, vacations seem to run on clocks that run faster than "normal" time, don't they? We sailed towards home, enjoying the ameneties on the ship and made the most of our time together (me, my husband, my Dad, my sister, Valerie, my father-in-law & mother-in-law). It was a great trip!

On our last night of the cruise, I went out on our balcony at the bow of the ship and caught the incredible sunset. I stayed out there for a long time, snapping pictures as the sun sank below the horizon and until the clouds began to glow in the reflected light. It was a lovely end to our trip and a reminder of how tiny we each are as compared to the vast ocean and the glory of nature's gifts. Very humbling, indeed.

There is a point to all my ramblings, as it relates to the creative aspects of my life. I'm always excited by the sunrise of a project - sketching, pulling out materials, drafting, testing, discarding and trying again - ever hopeful that what I envisioned will be achieved. As it comes together, my "rainbow", into something I'm proud of, I feel great about what I've done. The finished project, my sunset, is the end of the journey - yet, I know there is another creative sunrise around the corner. It's an endless lovely ride and I feel so blessed to have my creative gifts.

Wishing you an inspiring sunrise, a beautiful rainbow, and a satisfying sunset that leaves your heart burning for another creative journey!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I love making Mood Boards!

The assignment for my Textiles class was to create a Mood Board that showed our source of inspiration, the spirit of our "collection", the color story, some fabric, trims/buttons, and to include drawings (known as croquis) of our designs.

I already knew my source of inspiration - it was my walk in the woods at Squam. The spring greens of the new leaves, the dove to charcoal grays of boulders, the bright green mosses, and the persimmon-y colored flowers I photographed were my jumping off point.

A trip to the hardware store yielded paint chips in my color scheme and two hours at Mood, the amazing fabric store, was rewarded with a little pile of fabric swatches. I tore photos out of magazines and printed some of my photos from Squam. Black illustration board was my work surface and I used glue stick and ZipDry paper glue as adhesives.

For my fashion illustrations, I found a website that has FREE croquis (line drawings) in a bunch of different styles and poses ( that help my sketches look professional. I printed my selected croquis then placed it under tracing paper and drew my designs over the skeleton of the croquis underneath. After the clothing drawing was done I drew in the head, neck, arms, legs, hair, etc., to finish the drawing. I scanned the tracing paper drawing, printed it, and colored the printed page with Copic markers. I love this method!

It didn't take me long to arrange all the bits into my Mood Board collages. I glued it all down, added the dimensional elements of fabric, buttons and trim, and they were finished. What fun I had!

In class, we each had to do a presentation of our boards and discuss our inspiration, how it was depicted in the fashions, our target customer, etc. We were then critiqued by the instructor and the class. There were eleven of us in the class and it was interesting to see what everyone did and to learn about their thought processes.

So, here you have my mood boards. I am sure I will make more of them in the future. Not necessarily because I want to be a fashion designer (not this week, anyway) but because it was a great exercise and a lot of fun.

As for my garment construction techniques class, we have learned how to "throw" darts and alter the pattern in a myriad of ways. We've gone from draping to drafting patterns. I have always been curious about how to draft a pattern but always thought it involved a lot of complicated math. As it turns out, there is pretty much NO math involved! Woo hoo! My final assignment for that class is to draft a pattern for a bodice and skirt & make them. Guess I'll be busy this afternoon!
I am having a blast learning all this stuff. I can't wait for Parson's fall schedule to come out so I can figure out what I'm taking next!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's officially SUMMER!

Summertime... the word alone fills my head with sights, smells and tastes from summers gone by. Sunshine days, bright green grass, happy colorful clothing, bare feet, suntan lotion, a freshly mowed lawn, watermelon, and corn on the cob dripping with butter. What's not to love?

I was thinking about summer today while on the train back from NYC and remembered this day in Colorado. We were there for my step-son, Brian's wedding which took place at a ranch in a field with acres of dandelions in full bloom. They had wonderful long stems so I picked a bunch of them and made dandelion crowns for granddaughters Britney and Emily, pictured here. They both looked so sweet with their crowns! A lovely summertime memory.

It was a hot start to summer today in NYC! My textile class met at the Ratti Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They maintain archives of countless textiles both in actual fabric samples and a digital archive. It has been so interesting for me to learn about the resources available to designers - first the color forecasting, then this textile archive, and on to the Style Council on Thursday (not sure what they do, guess I'll find out on Thursday!).

I also had my Construction Techniques class today and we continued draping our muslin on the dress form. Next we will use the muslin to make slopers (the foundation pattern for everything). It is an interesting class and I am learning a lot but I'm glad this isn't the way I learned how to sew! It is pretty tedious when compared to sewing a garment from a commercial pattern. The fun stuff comes soon, I know!

After my class at the Ratti Library was finished I stayed at the museum and visited the "American Woman' exhibit at the Met. The exhibit included fabulous garments from the late 1800's through the 1940's. It was a beautiful exhibit and one can get close enough to the garments to really appreciate the details of the fine embroidery and bead work. The exibit is worth a trip to the city - if you are a textile/garment/fashion person, you must go!

Viewing vintage textiles, draping a muslin, and visiting a historical exhibit of garments gives me new appreciation for the clothes in my closet. While they are hardly haute couture (or fashion, for that matter), they are the result of thousands of years of the evoloution of textiles and garments. Thankfully, we have evolved to dressing more comfortably than in 1890 when women were squeezed into corsets and drowned in layer upon layer of fabric. A great look but who in the heck has the kind of time it took to get dressed back then?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thinking about color...

My Parson's textile class had a field trip today to The Color Association of the United States in NYC ( My instructor is on the Men's Committee and arranged for us to have an "inside look" at what they do. It was interesting to learn how they go about forecasting color and we were given last year's forecast including sets of fabric swatches of the colors (usually distributed to Members only). Who knew that a whole committee of people have already decided what color sweaters we will buy in 2012?

After that, we went to Mood, the amazing fabric store in the Fashion District. We spent some time talking about textiles and selecting fabrics for mood boards. I stayed after class and collected swatches for my class project. I have a lot of editing to do and will probably add and subtract several times before my final decisions are made. Here's what I've got so far... a nice variety of textures and fabric types - now to figure out what I would make out of what fabric!

My "inspiration" comes from some photos I took at Squam Lake while on my nature hike. I noticed the patterns of the cracks in the rocks and the spring green moss growing in them. Inspiration can come from anywhere! Something so seemingly small has sparked a series of ideas that I will apply to my projects for my Parson's classes and for some art quilts I've got on my mind.

Some of the photos I took are shown on this post. I've seen cracked mossy rocks before but have never looked at them in quite the way I am now.

Next week the same class will visit the textile archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Style Council. I'm looking forward to both trips and to continuing to make decisions about my class projects.

Today was fun (well, my feet aren't too sure about that...) and I remain excited about the classes. I have zero idea of what I am going to do with what I am learning, I am just enjoying the process!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Simply wonderful Squam

This charming cabin was home while I was at the Squam Art Workshops. The camps, known as Rockywold-Deephaven Camps, are in Holderness, NH. The camp is such a peaceful place with shaded paths, dirt roads, abudant wildlife and wildflowers. Truly a perfect setting for a restorative creative getaway!

I was greeted with a very warm welcome and ushered into the cabin to receive my workshop schedule and goodies. It was all very organized and everyone was so friendly. After two young men helped haul all my "stuff" into my second floor room, I organized my room and headed out for a walk.

The setting reminded me of Hidden Pond, the Adirondack campground I spent a lot of time at when I was a kid. My father, however, would not consider this place to be a camp as in his mind that involves tents, sleeping bags and cooking over open flames. It is definitely luxury camping at Rockywold! The cabins are rustic but very clean and the food is terrific - fresh, abundant and varied.

From my vantage point at Rockywold Camp, Squam Lake appears nearly untouched - the natural landscape interrupted only by rustic cabins tucked along the shoreline, nestled among the hemlock boughs. There are small docks near each cabin for easy access to the lake. I was not brave enough to dive into the crisp spring water but those who were said it was a refreshing gift.

I took three classes at Squam but have yet to take photos of my work so I'll save details on them for a later post. For now, I'll say that the classes were fun, organized and inspiring.

I did catch up with my California friend, Jenny Doh. Jenny was the keynote speaker at the opening gathering and gave a heartfelt talk about "Art Saves Lives" and how creative expression brings peace during lifes most difficult moments. You can learn more about Jenny's philosopy at Jenny is an amazing woman, talented, smart, insightful, and funny. Her friendship is truly a gift that I cherish. We had a couple of hiking adventures as we searched for a classroom (and followed others through the edges of a swamp) and as we trekked to Charlotte's cabin as the sun was going down.

This photo of Jenny and I reminds me of something else I loved about Squam - nobody bothered with makeup or fussy hair. I'm usually pretty fussy about my hair - I can't believe I'm posting a picture with my "Squam-do"! It was nice to ignore that part of my morning routine for a little while though!

During my free time on Saturday I went for a nature hike with my camera and took over a hundred photos that I will use for a nature inspired series of work. Doing so reminded me of how grateful I am for digital cameras which allow us to click away and collect hundreds of images in search of the "perfect" one. It certainly beats spending a fortune developing film.
I arrived home on Sunday evening after driving through some pretty terrifying rain. It is fun to go on a trip but there is nothing like the comforts of home and returning to the loving arms of my sweet husband. The trip was wonderful and my mind is now full of fresh ideas, new skills and renewed creative energy.

I'm off on a new adventure on Tuesday when I start my classes at The New School at Parson's in New York City. My classes are Construction Techniques I (garment construction) and a Textiles course. I have been wanting to take classes at Parson's for a long time and am excited about the classes. I'm going to blog about them so keep checking back.

I just realized how funny it is that I'm going from one extreme to another - from the dirt roads and deep woods of Squam Lake to the hustle and bustle of New York City. It's all a terrific adventure!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Time for some lakeside peace...

I'm packing for my trip to the Squam Art Workshop in New Hampshire. I am SO ready for a peaceful lakeside retreat! The amazing Jenny Doh is the Keynote Speaker and a special friend. I have no idea what the topic of her speech will be but I already know that it will be insightful, thought provoking, and wonderful.

I've signed up for a few classes - it is always fun to learn new techniques and to work in a class atmosphere, seeing what everyone else is up to. I sometimes feel somewhat isolated in my studio, it is good for me to "play with others' from time to time!

There is a vendor fair on Saturday evening and I am going to be there, selling some of my artwork including original collages, art quilts and jewelry. As usual, I'm looking forward to doing a little shopping, too!

My quilt group, Fiber Art Northeast, has a show opening at the Mahopac Public Library, in Mahopac, New York, next Sunday. The show runs for the whole month of June and is sure to be a feast for the eyes. If you are unable to visit, a book including all of the work in the show will be available. Learn more at , the new blog for the group.

Well, off to pack & finish getting ready for my trip. I know that I've fallen off the "Bookworm 52" path that got me started on blogging but a lot of other things have captured my attention for now. The whole purpose of that project was to help get my creative tail in gear again so I've got to follow the path I find myself on.
I'll take plenty of pictures at Squam and will post about it when I get back~--