Upcoming Workshops and Events

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September and the bugs are back...

coming home

I noticed last week when I finally got around to taking photos of brooches for my Etsy store, that I had put the store on vacation last February and had left a message that I would be back with new fabulous work when I returned from teaching in Hawaii. About mid-April.

I have no excuse because for the amount of time I have spent on this blog writing about excuses, I could have written, published, sold out and put on remainder tables an entire self help book on excuses. I just was busy. It is now mid-September, not my favorite month as the stink bugs come in my house to roost.  And not my favorite month because it is a time of transitions.  Summer becomes fall.  My teaching season changes to production time in the studio.  My wardrobe of tattered, cut-off sweat pants and t-shirt-du-jour gets put away and I wrap myself in winter body armor of layers, sweaters, leggings, socks and cheap slippers. I think I look better in fall.

And trying to look back and write about what I have done in the months since my last blog post - which in itself is an exercise akin to beating my head on this desk - I will pretend that I really did write out all those fully articulated posts that occupied my brain while A) I waited for yet another frigging plane to arrive at the gate; B) I packed again my 150 # of heavy metal in fragile suitcases; C) I wrote manifesto number 487 about how I will change my (1) entire life, (2)career, (3)medium, (4) studio, (5)choice of food, (6)brand of gin, shoes, haircut, underwear.  Enough said.  Nothing changes.  Everything changes.
Cowgirl, or Cowboy or maybe Cowpoke Travel Journals
At this exact moment I am working on a brand new blank book.  No felt to be seen.  I have had a life long yearning for waxed canvas and leather bags and during a particularly bad downpour recently I realized I could make a book binding of the same material!  Aha, I can draw and paint on the canvas! Aha!  And these practical, almost waterproof (if you hold them horizontal to the rain) travel journals I am calling Cowgirl (or Cowboy) Journals. Durable and tough like the great outdoors!  And yesterday I started painting travel vistas on the canvas - the mountains, the prairies, seashores and pies. Yes, I consider a trip to a great pie store worthy of a travel journal log.
Book 2 of a ten book self learning study on raised cord, flat back books. (3" x 4")
And in quieter moments I have been working on a ten book series of leather-bound, flat back "real" books.  I can actually feel my brain straining to understand and remember the series of steps gleaned from probably eight reference books. I've been told that learning new skills will sharpen my brain so I've sent off for my application to Mensa.  By the time I finish this series I'll either have a new career advising presidents or my tombstone will be a replica of whatever book found clutched in my dry, stiff fingers.
One of three boxes of the new brooches of the season
And so I don't veg out too much watching crap on television - oh, I meant to write - those intellectual PBS mini-series, I continue to design and stitch those brooches.  I think I am on number 956 today.  They will be listed in my Etsy Store sooooon.
"what is the number of cups of coffee remaining..."
And the Fall also is the time I start back on the "Page" series of stitched and beaded felt artworks.  This one, just started, is about wanting to know how many more of those delicious, sitting in the first rays of the sun,  cups of coffee do I have left.  I plan on five framed pieces done in time for the Voorhees Family Art Show in November.  I stitch a bit, take a photo, have a G&T, decide the next step, get distracted by a startling discovery by the intrepid PBS documentarians, lose my thread, needle and focus and decide to go to bed early and read Bird by Bird (Annie Lamont) for inspiration.
drying September Mitsu apples
September is also the only time the tart and tasty Mitsu Apples are available. I dry bushels.  The house spends like a (soup cookin', applesauce makin', apron wearin') grandma lives here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's About Time...and Space.

I am pretending that I have never made such a thing as a new years resolution that went something like ... "I will write a blog post every single week for the rest of my life." Instead, I will just put my feet up, start again and let my catholic school girl guilt ooze out of my pores and out of my system forever.

This is what I'll be doing May 1st - five months after that ill-fated resolution. And along with a much anticipated long, long grocery list of my new life that has come from months of stressed thinking about the meaning of teaching and art in the life of yer's truly, I will write these dang posts whenever I want. (and first on that grocery list is that I had better begin to write more frequently!)

And at least I always have something new to write about - something that I'm excited about.  This time I'd like to mention my four upcoming Scarf Making Workshops in 2013.  I have been teaching felt scarf classes since time began and even managed to write a pretty nice book about it with master felted Jori Johnson a few years ago.  But since my life for a few years has been involved with resist dyeing on the felt, I decided to make some changes in the scarf class to make it more interesting.
First is the use of resist blocks to provide exciting under color for the MOKUME scarf.  More dyeing, more undercolor possibilities and a brand new way to create the shaped resist for the final dyepot - PINS!  and I'll say no more as to not destroy your anticipation when you come to the class.
 And my brand new fav-o-rite - the MOON scarf, also using resist blocks and mr. scissors to change forever how we look at needle punch merino batts.  Again - shhhhh!
Leon curled up and not very impressed at  all about the new MOON. 

And of course I will always include my all-time favorite scarf, the olde AIREY FAIRY because it has so many possibilities and I feel obligated to share it will a new generation of felt makers. But I have a few ideas about that olde workhorse that may appear shortly in the workshops.
The The BUBBLE BOA scarf is one I've done many times too, but with a dyepot in the room, so many possible outcomes are boggling the creative mind.
about to be submerged in the wonderous resist dyepot.
 And where will these workshops be held?  I know you can't wait to jump in the car or your private jet and come join us! Also check on my "upcoming workshops" for more information and contact information.

May 6-10 - Northwest Pacific Art School (Coupeville Arts Center) 360-678-3396
Coupeville, Washington 

June 16-21 - Sievers school of Fiber Arts, Washington Island, Wisconsin 920-847-2264

August 4-9 - Arrowmont School, Gatlinburg, TN  865-436-5860

November 3-9 - John C Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC 828-837-2775
I finally found where I can get my favorite lilies. Life is sooo good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saving the World

I don't understand this daylight savings time stuff.  Someone once explained it to me as a way that farm kids could bring in the crops before going to school but that made no sense, especially now that it should be spring and my garden is as cold and hard as my unsprung heart.

I woke at 5:30 am this morning and it was black outside. No glimmer of light anywhere, not even from squinted-shut headlights of those so unfortunate to have extremely important jobs that required them to be up in this blackness.   I wandered the house for about .5 minutes and then went back to bed, pulling up the covers and feeling a failure for choosing to return to the womb when I really wanted to work on something. But it was too dark to work.  I got depressed, unusual for me but I am taking some sort of medication that has depression as a side effect as well as growing warts on the side of my nose (which hasn't happened yet, mostly because its too dark to see them).

So depressed!  I wondered what time the sun would be coming up or worst yet.... what if today the sun would not bother to rise at all!  Would people continue their daily routines hoping that someone would fix it sooner or later, like a great big burned out light bulb in the sky. (How many earths would it take to change the sun bulb?)

Those thoughts continued to depressed me further but I figured that my iPhone would have the answer as it always seems to have one since I started to use the solitare game for a divination device a few months ago.  Find an app for sunrise...and there it is... sunrise and sunset anywhere in the world even if one is on the wrong side of a mountain...99 cents.  I pressed all the right thingies but the damn thing would not take my new password.  And new passwords are everything to me now since my phone was hacked a week ago.  What stupid pile of paper had the apple ID, the iCloud ID, the ID for life, anything.  Nothing worked. 

I crawled out of bed and went to the giant computer in the dark office and looked up help for the iPhone.  I really wanted a help button for the old and tired and depressed and wanting to just cry in frustration at one more damn thing not working just to spite me in this darkness, this first day when the sun may never come up and I don't have the right password for the sunrise calculator to see if it would ever rise again type of crying-sobbing-frustration.

Apparently there are many like-minded folks that have looked for that special sobbing button as I did find some very simple worded directions for resetting passwords on devices other than the original computer because despite all the money and time I spent trying to set up iCloud one thing it doesn't do is change all the passwords on other devices to which it is connected.  So as I waited for something or the other to sync (brain and/or computer) I read an incoming email about how to be happy and living in the moment. Decided they didn't care to know the world could be on the brink of ending and I just didn't want to be in that moment. They were deleted with a vicious
jab of the pointer finger about that time the password started to work. I grabbed the phone and tried the sunrise app again as it was still black as a coal mine at midnite and I am getting worried about my theory of the end of the world seeming to becoming real.

The passwords and email and other secret letters worked and they took my 99 cents and the app opened and asked where I was, which was real nice as I really had no idea and there it was - the time of the sunrise and I could read it because just then a great beam of sunlight lit up the phone like a laser pointer from Belinda the good witch!

Could I take credit for saving the world this morning?  Sure I can in my secret little soul. Somedays, like this morning, saving the world is enough to push aside drug induced depressions and allow me to twirl and dance around the kitchen in gratitude for the sun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

50 Shades of Gray Clouds

I'm feeling a great deal of guilt after proclaiming a weekly blog post and now I'm two weeks behind. I just added this new apt and have given it permission to control everything in my life just so I can post this while in the airport on my second(delayed) leg of a centipede trip to holland.

Gray, gray skies...high,high winds ...I'm watching planes taking off waggling their wings like they're sending me messages..."go home. Put your head under your pillow. Put your journal on the porch ledge and drink your hot tea..." Just like the above photo I took this morning just before a massive blast of wind threatened to suck me up out of my cozy bed and send me to Europe sans plane.

Since poking at this iPhone with sticky fingers (dried ginger and pineapple treats) is proving as tedious as listening to the updated delay announcements, I'll leave you with this photo of the results of my advanced medieval book class with Dan Essig and try this apt on my iPad. Plus this part of the waiting area is getting as dark grey as those clouds...those planes...my mood. I see that the bar is much brighter and cheery.


- Posted in the middle of mucky weather using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Josh Birmingham Pkwy,Charlotte,United States

Monday, January 14, 2013

Down for the Count...

Sunday morning, 70 degrees and sunny on the porch! Look, a shadow!
It ain't the flu, 'cause ah ain't got the fever.  But it is a cold that whacks you on the side of your head and lays you down on a fluff of used kleenex and cough drop wrappers.  And you stay down for two weeks. Or more... So I'm late with this blog post, hell, I'm late with everything I promised for the last week and half, but I have mastered the fine art of coughing without breaking any ribs.

I really was worried about this cold as it started just after I got my flu shot, and although I could and did easily sink into the curing rhythm of bed rest and hot teas, I did have a class to teach last weekend here at my house and one dear student was already on her way flying in from Boston.  I drank gallons of hot herbal tea, stood under hot showers every 3 hours, and inhaled vitamin C.  I recovered enough to teach a a fun resist dyeing class to three fabulous students and welcomed in the beginning of the 2013 teaching season.     

Aha, I thought.  I have survived that dread virus.  And decided to celebrate by eating a fairly tasteless reuben sandwich and sleeping out on the porch on the last night of the unseasonally warm weekend weather.  It was a delightful evening, bundled up in wooly blankets, listening to intermittant rain showers.  But in the morning, groan...energy level - flat, below flat_________.  I just couldn't move except for short search and rescue missions for coffee, hot tea, another sweater and my journal. 
Kitty Leon burrowed in to provide warmth and a headrest for my journal
So I guess I have to resign myself to a few more days of bed rest and gallons of water based beverages. My sense of humor is gone.  I'm starting to research hermit themed home decor.  I'm sick of television except for PBS and Downton Abbey, but how many episodes of Victory Garden can I sit through? I looked in the mirror this morning and all my hair was sticking straight up...and I didn't care!  Soon, though, I know I will pop up once again like a demented toaster and get back to my beloved lists and piles of paper.  Next week is my class with Master Book Maker Dan Essig at John C Campbell folk school.  I need a brain by then.
Leon warming my porch bed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Breeze at Dawn

There is a poem by Rumi that I love and which I have taped up on the lamp next to my computer:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
don't go back to sleep
you must ask for what you really want
don't go back to sleep
people are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch
the door is round and open
don't go back to sleep

I used to love this poem when I slept outside on the porch and stink bugs were just a scary shadow in my future.  It was so easy getting up at dawn because the sun was already brightening the sky and the birds would be making a frightful racket,  Now when that alarm goes off at 6 am, 7am, 7:30 am, and/or 8:25 am the sky is still dark.  My inside bedroom is dark and chilly and I hear the beginning rumbles of the furnace coming on.  What would be a good reason to jump up, find my tattered slippers and old pink fleece bathrobe and stumble towards the coffee fixins?  Certainly not to witness aliens passing through the crepuscular doorsill and frightening the cat!

But with the new year there are always reasons to pop out of that toasty bed like a super-sprung toaster.  I, of course, have a list of them!
Make more hours in the day
get coffee and work book and make more lists of things I need to do before the week is over
cook and eat breakfast before the clock hits noon
think, wonder and worry - and make lists of my new brilliant career move
Current state of first paper 'page'
Which is to learn to make, dye, process and stitch handmade paper as my new substrate instead of the resist dyed merino felt I have used for years.  Ah, beautiful paper with which I only want to paw and then carefully pack away in a drawer.  I am a certified papermaker now, and I have stocked my dye studio with every conceivable natural dye, tannin and mordant known to contemporary dyers.  I have bought expensive dye books and found links to papermaking dye books....it is a dark and endless rabbit hole when one starts researching on Goggle. I am ready...am I willing? 

Although some may argue that working with paper is not such a big deal and while certainly not career changing as my past decision to become a Navy Seal (didn't pan out due to fear of water), it is enough of a change to cause me to stop while walking through a room and stand there for - oh, fifteen minutes or so, thinking.  I wonder about adding exciting new media ideas like drawing, writing or sketching on the paper in addition to the usual stitching and beading.  I worry about the lack of exciting resist created color and surface design.  I wonder about resist dyeing the paper.  Then I worry about the paper falling apart.  Wonder about how to make the paper so it doesn't fall apart.  Worry about paper chemistry. Wonder where I stashed my copy of "Chemistry for Dummies" book.

Don't get me wrong.  I love this part of the creative process.  It pushes me beyond all those comfortable boundaries (which are now whizzing by me like I might be dead!) I have to learn new words, dig up new teachers and mentors, wander the aisles of AC Moore and Micheals in search for new tools to steal from the scrap-bookers.
This is a group of my current "working" papers.  Mostly cotton (linters and rag) with abaca.  The three brown ones are dyed with black walnut and are at this early point in discovery are "processed"- rolled, crush, ironed and starched and mashed again.  They are getting soft but I have many more tortures in mind for them including gelatin sizing. 

I am trying to create a heavy, soft as fabric paper that can be resist dyed with natural dyes and be utterly beautiful.  Because I am also somewhat of a control freak when it comes to my textiles, I want a certain feel...but as you know, the material informs the artist.  I think I know what these new objects will look like, but I can guarantee that by the end of this glorious year, photos of very different pieces of stitched artworks will be posted here.

So I stand poised, on that doorsill between felt and paper.  People go back and forth and don't bother themselves with my decisions.  The door is open and there is no reason not to pop out of bed in the wee hours like a demented toaster cooky and grab up that new love.

Must go - Downton Abby is on in 2 minutes!!!