Saturday, December 31, 2011

Questionable center

I've finished quilting the piece I started here and here half a year ago. Saved the center for last.

I'm very happy with the quilting everywhere but the center. Is it the quilt lines or thread color? Or both? So I'm setting it aside. Allow time and distance for a fresh view. Or a clue to redo.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crazy eight

The monthly solids club at Pink Chalk Fabrics will morph into a new version debuting in January  2012 (less than a week away!). They'd feature a charm pack of prints with coordinating solids. Don't despair yet fellow solids fans.

"A Solids Stack of the Month will be available for purchase each month in the shop similar to what is being offered now in the club - it just won't be an auto-ship."

Let's hope they'd offer the stack in 1-yard cuts.

With no shipment in December, and especially with the holidays, I needed my monthly fix. So I picked eight Moda Bella Solids. Here's what I got from top to bottom: Fig Tree Apricot, Lime, Betty's Orange, Tan, Rust, Horizon Blue, Stone and Kansas Troubles Red.

Hmm - not so pretty, eh?
What about this group?
Prettier restacked. Presentation does makes a difference, doesn't it?

Choices at a brick-and-mortar shop might've been different from these chosen online. I'm adding to my stash, not using them together. Otherwise I'd go crazy picking the perfect eight.

Monday, December 19, 2011

No bargain

batting was stacked atop of solid black fabric.
bunnies under the table after sandwiching the quilt.
I’d picked up the batting at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse for a bargain. Soft, silky and lightweight. No packaging, no brand. I suspect a bamboo blend. Turns out this was no bargain after all. 

blue masking tape frame around test square to contain the lint

underside of quilt top
I cleaned up the lint as best I could and re-built the sandwich with another batting. Back to tried and true. Save the experimentation and unknown for another day.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Backward progress

Steps backwards to move forward.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’m lounging about in my pj’s eating bon-bons and watching day-time soap operas. Not!

The first month of retirement past quickly. A week handling personal business. One week out of town pruning an almond orchard.

Another week of deferred housekeeping.

The rest zoning out, recovery and r&r. Where did that time go? Haven’t seen that full time studio artist yet.

Plans are afoot to be a stationary nomad. Rooms will trade spaces: studio with the guest bedroom, and my bedroom with the home office. The bathrooms are slated for a long overdue remodel. Retiring means making changes in other areas too.

Though I still haven’t cleaned up after Hurricane Elena, the state of domesticity allows some guilt-free time in the studio.

Four years after my very first quilt top, I now have a lap quilt.

Just in time for the guild’s annual Show-and-Tell in November. Orange Rhyme also got another moment in the limelight. A slide show will be posted here.

Just a peek at another project in the works.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Discipline or structure

When my friend called me disciplined just because I go to the gym three times a week and to tai chi every Saturday morning, I laughed. Ha! Me disciplined?

I don't swim endless laps, run miles around the track, or lift tons of weights. The main attraction is the hot tub! Ahhh! Soothing hot water! All other activities are secondary. Monday is Restorative Yoga. Very passive. Very restful. Very calming. Friday or Saturday is aerobics and weight machines. I fit in stretches and crunches here and there and more tai chi if a room's free. No pain. No stress. No sweat. Enough of that elsewhere.

I say it's structure, not discipline. It's a framework around which I schedule all other activities after work. Regularity works well for me. Limited free time means I avoid over committing. At least to a certain degree.  

In two weeks I won't have to worry so much about limited time. How will I structure my whole day then? Can I maintain hours in the studio, not lose it to non-creative activities, yet still get other things done? Hmm. The new frame of mind calls for a new framework.

How do you do it? How do you safeguard your studio time?

Monday, October 24, 2011


Hurricane Elena hit almost two months ago. We interviewed the artist most affected by this disaster:

This place was tight quarters before. Now with this devastation it's almost impossible to get any work done. And clean up too? Very discouraging.

I've been thinking about moving and this was just the impetus I needed. I found a bigger space with higher ceilings, better natural light and more wall space. When that's ready I'd be very happy to get working again.

Well, there you have it: a positive opportunity from disaster. We'll check back with the artist in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photo op

Despite enough photos of my own quilt, I asked my friend, Joyce, to take one of me next to Orange Rhyme in the special exhibit, New Quilts of Northern California, at PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival).

Proof it was there. Proof I saw it there. That feels kinda weird.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rhyming again

Orange Rhyme
Woot! Woot!

Ricky Tims has selected Orange Rhyme for All That Jazz: Improvisational Quilts exhibition during the Road to California show held at the Ontario Convention Center, January 19-22, 2012.

Woot! Woot!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Compounded & confounded

Curves Sampler
The Bride & the Batchelors - Wild Bride
Two weeks at the Crow Timber Barn - 5:30am to 11pm days - compounded by a three-hour shift from Pacific to Eastern time has turned life topsy turvy and my usually disordered household into a disaster zone. Small price for priceless workshops.

First week - Lines Curves Circles and Figure Ground, Part 1 - was the least stressful workshops I've ever taken from Nancy Crow. I didn't finish all the exercises, but gained much confidence piecing curves. A terrific time making these too. 

breakdown screen print

resist on silk

Second week - Layers upon Layers with Carol Soderlund - was a enticing exploration of surface design techniques which also cemented dyeing knowledge gained in True Colors last fall. The starch resist and breakdown screen printing are my favs.  
resist on undercloth & direct resist on pimatex
The bags under my eyes are receding. My pants are not worn backwards. I'm back at work and recovering from these exciting times. If I find those papers I'd stashed somewhere safe, life would return to normal.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dreamy two

I’m setting up at the Barn. Other workshop participants doing the same. Or they’re meeting new friends and reuniting with old. Atmosphere is electric with energy.

With a sinking heart I realized I’ve no boxes of fabrics. Uh oh. I can visualize them in the studio all ready to go.

It’s bad. Nancy tells me I can’t be in the workshop without materials. No point in being there if I can’t do the work. But . . . but . . . She says I have to leave. Waah! At least she takes a little pity and gets flight info for me. I don’t want to go. Waah!

Don’t worry. Just another variation of going to the first day of school in pajamas. I've had this type of dream before. A sequel to yesterday's Dreamy one from 2009. Okay. Worry.

After these heart pounding nightmares dreams, I prepare. Fabrics packed, labels printed, boxes ready to drop off. But I forgot - out of sight out of mind. Drove off without them this morning. Thank goodness for a sweetheart. He'll bring them to me in exchange for lunch. A small price to pay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dreamy one

It’s the first day of another workshop at the Barn.

But it's a different setup, smaller room, smaller tables. Only one empty spot with large window but very short design wall below it.

I suddenly realized why it seemed I was travelling so light. I didn't ship nor pack supplies! Attempted to get my sweetheart at home to gather them & send pronto. What’s on the supply list? Where will he find them? When will it get here?

Didn’t see my roommate. But there is a three-tiered bleacher with people including some former classmates. Roommate arrives in furry outfit befitting a rock star but she doesn’t recognize me.

As the day ends, I realize I didn’t cancel the other hotel reservations. Whoops! Extra costs for one night’s lodging.

At least I wasn’t in my pajamas. Nor barefoot or in slippers. Not this time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rhyme & reason

Orange Rhyme

Today I started out feeling tired and overwhelmed. But after focusing and crossing off multiple to-dos, I was feeling quite accomplished.

Then to top it off, I received an acceptance letter. Orange Rhyme will be at the Pacific International Quilt Festival as part of the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit.

Woot! Woot! I'm rhyming with orange!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Work two, play half

After chores Saturday and Sunday, Monday was a day for rest and relaxation. I caught Picasso, Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

There's no question about Picasso's place in the pantheon of modern art.  But afterwards I was hungry for color and expressive brushwork. 
Compare that to these Bay Area Figuratives.
David Park Two Bathers

Elmer Bischoff
Which do you prefer?

The rest of the day was lost to computer time.  Really lost. After three hours and much frustration, my computer seized. Yikes! I prayed feverishly for recovery. It did, but it was a sign to back up everything. Eschewed the online system and called customer service. A live person and a quick successful transaction!

Whew! The whole experience left me beaten and pummeled! Watering the garden and washing the car will wait for another day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The secret is out. Told my manager today. After 19 years plus, I am retiring from life at the office. Countdown to the last work day of November 15th, 2011: 84.

I shall be a full time artist. My! How well that resonates!

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.  - A. Einstein

Many thanks to Guy Tal for that quote. Read about his journey to his creative sweet spot.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cranky factors

After Saturday night's dinner, my friend remarked that I always get cranky when I get together with my side of the family.


I sewed a little gift for my mother's birthday. She tossed it aside with disgust.

I learned my sister doesn't keep in touch with my Chicago cousin even though they went together on a cruise of the Yangtze River a few years ago. Because of my cousin involvement with Hispanic friends, advocates of immigrants' rights.

I learned my sister's fiance won't travel to any third world countries. Not at all. Explains why my sister travelled with my cousin. Explains those hateful e-mails that my sister forwards.

Another sister remarked on the abundance of gray hair. Said it makes me look old. Told me to dye it. She'll turn 60 in October.

This same sister lives next door to my mother yet arrived without her. When questioned about my mother's tardiness, she jabbered excuses. And kept jabbering until I vanquished her into the restaurant while I waited outside.

That's half the family. The other half were too far across an immense round table in a noisy room to have a decent conversation.

Yes. I got cranky.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Washed out

Yesterday was a bust. I took the day off work to attend to four different things. But the universe did not cooperate, so only one of four done. It wasn't a total loss though. Watered the vegetable garden. Cleaned the laundry room (dye studio). Made a zucchini salad for dinner. Stretched in yoga class. A day of smaller accomplishments.

Here are the neutrals, out of their dye baths, dried and ironed. Colors are a bit washed out. I may not be using enough dye. Or it's the muslin.

The light gray cloth is from leftover dye solutions. Going for a solid, it was bagged to batch. But it developed a rectangular patch and a line with slightly different hue. It had laid atop the washer, near the west facing window where I'm guessing the top layer and fold might've dried out. Couldn't tell when it was wet.

But all is not loss here either. I learned four things: the color leanings from each combination; the dye-ability of the muslin; the unflat container bottom caused funny markings on the cloth; and to give a little more thought about the batch spot. A worthwhile experiment for my first time dyeing solo.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Can you hear the opening guitar sounds of Wipeout by the Surfaris? Don't know it? Watch and listen here. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-a, washout! Sorry, this mind works in mysterious ways.

Today it's washout. No - it's not a total failure! The other definition: removal or erosion of something by water. You dyers know!  

Yes'm! I finally dyed solo! Here're the bathing beauties.

Kinda dark. Kinda colorless. Eh?! They're supposed to be! It was an exercise to explore neutrals from three basic dye colors. Wait until they're done with their baths. Dried and ironed they'd be pretty as a peach plum! Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reflecting life

In a public place with a lot of luggage. More than I can carry. An important matter calls for me. I am torn. Left unattended, they may not be there later.

Anxiety. Awoken I realized I've had this dream before.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trip tik

A road trip is just the ticket for hand stitching.

I'd stitched on facings following Kathy Loomis' perfect faced quilt tute. Thanks to the three hour drive and quiet moments, hand stitching was finished before the return trip.

Attached the sleeve during minutes in the waiting room. Done! Yay! The birth of finished quilt no. 3.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New age

One decade has passed. A new one begun.

I celebrated my 61st birthday last week. I hardly believe it. I feel like a kid. Yeah, sometimes act like one too. Until my body reminds me. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Heat wave

The 3-day weekend was HOT HOT HOT! Walnut Creek – only 15 miles more inland - hit a record breaking 108°! Oakland was cooler yet too hot to be out. I retreated into the cave, aka studio.

And finished quilting another sandwich. Or so I thought. A decision made in the heat of the moment didn't look so hot. Blame it on the weather. The first tentative quilt lines looked good. But finished, not so. I'm learning. 

Unstitched and stitched. Now it's on the design wall as I contemplate whether to stitch more, stitch less or face & finish it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Support the cause

My contribution to the Alzeheimer's Art Quilt Initiative – Twist & Turn, no. 6962 – is one of many for sale.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Waiting for directions

No impetus like having guests to get cleaning. I made up for deferred housekeeping. In a few rooms at least.

With children I would feel obligated to set a good example. But I don't have any. So having people over is my incentive. At least once in a while. The house appreciates it too.

Before and after, betwixt and between, I quilted. And quilted. And quilted. More quilting begets faster stitching and better turns. It's about half done and up on the design wall.

I'm looking, listening, waiting for the quilt to tell me what's next. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Intentional intensity

I've been quilting. Not as in designing or piecing. As in stitching quilt lines.

Intended lines about 3/16" apart. An hour to stitch a 3" wide swath. Five hours to exhaust a 100-meter spool of thread. Very intensive.

Only an hour at a spell. Maybe 25% quilted after eleven hours. 
An adjustment. No change in intention. A change in intensity.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Birthday every month

I'm getting a stuffed Priority Mail envelope each month.

Just look at the luscious blues in this month's little package.

At the beginning of each month, soon after an email notification, the package arrives. I don't know what colors, but always eight one-yard pieces with a card identifying each one.

When I go to the fabric shop, I'd stand in front of the solids for a long while trying to figure out what other color to buy. Yes, I do need more solids. There I'd be tempted by eye-candy prints. Or by nifty notions. Or by new patterns. Or by luscious silks. You get the picture. I'm avoiding temptation and relinquishing color selection to Pink Chalk.  

I feel like a birthday girl each month. What a pleasant treat. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cataract Falls

In his Outdoor and Sunday Drive columns for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Stienstra (the one writer I read in the newspaper's Sports section) has extolled the trails to beautiful waterfalls in the Marin Watershed . Until recently, adequate rainfall, good weather and free time have never fortuitously coincided.

When a day of gorgeous weather popped up after a rainy day in the middle of Memorial weekend, I dropped everything and opted for a hike on the longest - 2 miles - and steepest - 750-foot climb - trail of the three – Cataract Trail.

Cataract Falls is not one long drop, like you may find in Yosemite, but a series of cascades, all more beautiful than these photos can reveal. A hobbit's stone house sits in a pool at the foot of one cascade.

Wildflowers bloomed along the trail.




The wildflowr at left with its hooks may have been the inspiration for Velcro.

A lizard takes advantage of the sun in the shelter of a hollowed out tree.

A respite in the picnic dell at the top. After two hours up the trail, sitting felt wonderful.

Another hour back down the trail and justification for a hearty meal.

A good day. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Give him a 10

I ask for your help in supporting a friend. Vote for his $300 house concept:

The contest has only two days left. His idea ranked no. 11 last I looked.

An other pace

Recently I returned to the Crow Barn for a workshop.  In contrast to Nancy Crow's intensive pace, this was a relaxing week with Dorothy Caldwell.

We made marks – Human Marks – batiked, burned, discharged, drawn, pierced, printed, smoked, stamped and stitched.

I didn't get as far as making books from these marked pages, but here's my little handbound sample book.
Contemplative approaches. Meditative processes. Gestural marks. A wonderful change of pace.

I allowed myself the luxury of commuting alone. Not even the radio for company.