Friday, December 13, 2013


Life has been hectic in the past two months. I've taken two great workshops: Potpourri II with Nancy Crow at the Crow Barn and The New Complex Cloth with Jane Dunnewold at Art Quilt Tahoe. Seen two great international juried fiber arts shows. Maybe I'll catch up and post about these. Maybe not.

For now I'm happily engaged in a new project. Started with the golden pieces from the workshop:
modules from Potpourri II
and made more with some in other colors.
more modules, more colors
Re-arranged the jumbled mess,
more cohesive but flat
auditioned more colors,
looking livelier
resulting in a small half-way decent composition.
a 36x36 composition
Added red, and made more to make it bigger,
a 42x53 composition
but not necessarily better. Why the heck is that?! Needs more work!

It's not too big yet big enough to become my entry for the EBHQ quilt guild show, Voices in Cloth, coming up in March.

Gotta be big enough to hang around all those big traditional quilts. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Urban Tale: recovery of stolen vehicle

The van was stolen from in front of the house in the middle of the night in early August. We'd joked about it being the ideal vehicle for criminal activities: big black van with tinted windows and only a driver's seat. Lots of cargo room! As the weeks went by, chances of recovery got slimmer.

In late September my partner left to do a 500-mile pilgrimage walk from France to Santiago, Spain. He allowed two months, but finished in 4 weeks. You can read about it and see photos from his pilgrimage here.

Meanwhile mail arrived from California Highway Patrol. Turns out the van was "recovered" on 10/19 and towed to a storage yard. To get it out he had to pay the fees: $190 for towing and $75 a day for storage. It was day five. You do the math.

They also required a release from the California Highway Patrol which meant a notarized letter from him authorizing me to pick up the van because I was not the registered owner. By this time we found this out, it was bedtime in Spain. >Ding!< add $75.

The next morning I was off to the CHP office by 8am with the precious notarized letter >Ding!< add $100. I paid the fees (>Ding!< add another $70 for title search) before they walked me out to the van. I had the key, but didn't need it. The thieves broke the ignition - anyone could've started the van with a screwdriver. And they locked a Club onto the steering wheel!
not my Club!
The towing yard couldn't get the Club off. Turns out the van wouldn't start anyway. So AAA towed it home. At least I didn't pay extra for that.

The $600 van has racked up costs of $810 for this incident. It obviously needs new license plates, door locks and ignition; the Club removed; and whatever fix to start it again. Unless the same thieves come back and fix it, it'd be waiting for him.

How much more will it cost to get it running again? Do you hear bells ringing?

  • In California, if the vehicle is picked up by the third day of storage, then no storage fees are charged. In this case, they recovered the van on a Saturday and didn't write and mail the report until the CHP office opened on Monday. Three days were up at a blink of the eye!
  • The storage yard will keep a vehicle worth less than $4000 for 30 days before selling it. If the sale price does not cover the fees then they will send collections after the owner for the difference.
  • The owner can offer the pink slip to the storage yard before the 30 days are up, but again, if the sale price does not cover the fees, then they will send collections after the owner for the difference.
  • Avoid having your vehicle towed in a city like San Francisco. The storage yard advised me they charge for storage by the hour!
  • A friend had a vehicle parked on a Berkeley street while she was out of the country. Her neighbor reported the vehicle because it hadn't moved for more than 72 hours. She had to jump through similar hoops to get her vehicle out of storage. The 72-hour rule is California law. 
The lessons learned:
  • Don't leave the country if you are the sole registered owner of a stolen vehicle. Unresolved business comes back with a bite! 
  • Get insurance coverage for theft and vandalism even if the vehicle is not worth much. It doesn't cost much and may help cover all the fees that rack up. 
cargo trash

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three on display

Three quilts in two exhibitions.
Golden Sol
Golden Sol will be at PIQF, October 17-20, 2013, as part of the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit presented by the Northern California Quilt Council. My third consecutive year of participation.

Orange Rhyme
Spin in Brown
And on the opposite coast, Orange Rhyme and Spin in Brown have longer engagements at the Schweinfurth Art CenterQuilts = Art = Quilts runs from October 27, 2013 until January 5, 2014.

Good things comes in threes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A simple life

I came back from Italy only to be consumed for six weeks by two intensive projects for the job I didn't retired from. By the half year mark, my studio routine was non-existent and creative accomplishments sorely lacking.

I resolved to fix that with judicious pruning. I limited my gardening activities, limited my already limited housekeeping (furthering its decaying state), limited my social life, limited my internet usage and stole away to work in the studio. I've now re-established my nightly studio routine and made good headway on an(other) intensive project, so I can ease up on my monastic life.

You want to see what I've been working on? I'm not ready to show you the whole thing. You'll have to be at the Crow Timber Barn in Ohio to see it. I'll be there from October 7th to 11th for Nancy Crow's Potpourri II workshop. This top will be there too.

Yet I can't have a post without a photo. So here's a teaser:
corner of four modules
A continuation of circles with straight lines.

I previously teased you with this. Well, I wasn't happy with this which was a very symmetrical four-square, about 40x40. I took it apart and made six more modules. Still wasn't satisfied and made another six. After 60 hours just piecing, I'm happy with this bigger (100x60) better relative.

Oh, life should be so simple!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not to be missed: Richard Diebenkorn

A drive into San Francisco from Oakland can be a big deal with traffic. I try to take public transit when I can. But since I had a business appointment in the far reaches of the city, I piggybacked a trip to the de Young Museum to see Richard Diebenkorn, the Berkeley Years, 1953-1966.

I love Diebenkorn's Bay Area Figurative and Ocean Park series. I even feel a special affinity since he was an alumni of both my high school and college. Ah, if only I can paint as well as he did!

This exhibition highlights the breath of his work from abstract (often landscape-like) to figurative and back to abstract for those 13 years he lived in Berkeley. It showcases 130 works - oil paintings and many smaller mixed media pieces on paper, most rarely shown before. Most just wonderfully luminescent! Terrific brushwork and underlying textures hinting of changes. Diebenkorn worked improvisationally. He often sat for hours looking at his painting before re-doing areas his canvases.

Due to copyright issues no photography was allowed (nor can I but you can browse through the museum's website for more information including a fewYouTube clips. His daughter's reminiscing is an especially illuminating view of his life and character.

Going home, I got stuck on the freeway for about an hour because the bridge was closed for removal of a suspicious package. That probably won't happen to you, so if you're in the area, don't miss this! Exhibition closes September 29, 2013.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wire diversions

I've long admired Mari Andrews' sculptures ever since visiting her studio a number of years ago. Now am looking forward to her exhibition Over, Under and Inside Out at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Mari Andrews' Hold
Propensitus Gravitas detail
Mari Andrews' Propensitus Gravitas
Two years ago she offered a one-day workshop called Paperless Drawing - Wire Sculpture at the Richmond Art Center. But the timing didn't work. This year I had another chance so I broke with my nose-to-the-grindstone routine.

After learning about wire - types, gauges, tools, knots - I played, adding other paraphernalia to wire, to create these two small sculptures:

I'm still having fun toying with their orientation.

It was a terrific diversion from the rigors of piecing. Maybe I'll make one every day week month. Oh, heck, just make another one . . .  whenever . . . then another . . .

Friday, June 7, 2013

Italian vacation recipe

During my vacation in Italy, when I wasn't walking, eating, sleeping or napping, I was either reading or keeping my hands busy. 


  • one 6" embroidery hoop
  • 21 pieces of cloth, each marked with 4" square
  • needles 
  • pearl cotton
  • thread snippers
  • thimble
  • stitch notes


Stretch a cloth in hoop. Thread needle with pearl cotton. Select a stitch. Stitch as desired. Rethread needle as needed. Rethread with another color as desired.

Use only one stitch per cloth. Stitch improvisationally without marking. Explore stitches: change stitch length, change stitch density, change direction,  overlap stitches.

blanket or buttonhole stitch
detached chain stitch or lazy daisy

chevron stitch
coral stitch
feather stitch
needle weaving

snail trail, unfinished


  • Some stitches lend themselves to variations.
  • Some stitches cover more ground. 
  • Not a large selection of dark value pearl cottons for the lighter cloths.
  • Harder for no. 12 pearl cotton to be effective against no. 5. Weight makes a difference.
  • Colors were chosen on a whim. Some combinations more effective. 
  • Build a bigger pearl cotton stash!
  • Preparing 21 pieces of cloth was overkill. 
  • Will use recipe again.

How do you handle weeks away from the studio?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bella vistas - Venezia

moored gondolas

April 25th - Liberation Day - was not a good day to arrive in Venice. It was a holiday so there wasn't anyone to guide us to the apartment.We picked up keys at the bus terminal and had an adventure finding our own way.

Though the agency's directions seemed clear enough, their map was unreadable. I had two city maps and found on the internet a good map for a nearby hotel with multiple routes marked. But maps are no guarantee. Even the best ones do not show or mark every single street. It took all three maps plus the cell phone's GPS to locate the apartment. Maybe we didn't traverse the most direct route, but at least we'd avoided sleeping on the streets of Venice.
the canal behind the apartment
Wayfinding in Venice is like being on that old television game show, Concentration, or playing one of those AARP brain fitness memory game. Deja vu again and again! I'd stop in squares to get re-oriented and often stopped in the same square again and again. Either pull the map out or take chances with a wrong turn. Often both. We were perpetually lost. And apparently not the only ones. We spent the days wandering around and window shopping.
typical canal
Because the holiday fell on a Thursday, it felt like half of Italy was in Venice for a long weekend. After squeezing over the Rialto Bridge and through St. Mark's Square, we tried to keep far from the maddening crowds. We found boat yards,
gondola boatyard
workshops where oars and oarlocks are made,
oar and oarlock totems outside workshop
and even a shop specializing in Venetian boat history and authentic model ships. Unfortunately, the latter was closed for the holiday but has a website worth perusing.

We took the vaporetto to the outer islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.
 Murano canal
Burano color
Though the photos make the island look deserted, they weren't. Most everybody else were shopping.

Venice was the most crowded leg, but the last leg, of our trip. We had a great three weeks in Italy but were ready to go home. Ciao!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bella vistas - Feltre

With a rented car we ventured further north for the third leg of our Italian journey.

To escape from the urban setting we stayed at a b&b in Villaga, a village just outside of Feltre. Villa Rosa nestles into the hillside near the end of a road and up a long steep switchback driveway.
from our Villa Rosa aerie, view of church across the valley
view from the church across the valley; Villa Rosa is the spot in the center
The weather had turned cold and wet the day we arrived
the view on the day of arrival
and only cleared up the day before we left. Just in time to show what we've been missing.
a similar view the day before departure
We didn't let the inclement weather stop us.

A couple hours north is the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo which hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics. It was very quiet between tourist seasons: the ski resorts had recently closed and summer season hadn't started. Even though the encircling Dolomites were obscured by clouds and rain, we could sense their majesty. Imagine what we would've seen on a clear day!

Cortina d'Ampezzo
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Other days, we explored Feltre, visited Grantorto to search for a farm "next to the road with a river on the other side", stopped in Bassano del Grappa for lunch and the grappa museum, 
small bottles at the grappa museum
and looked for distant relatives in Lamon.
With help from our terrific b&b hosts, Andy and Simone, we contacted cousin Angelo and spent a day with his family.
Italian relatives (Angelo in the middle)
We talked and ate lunch; talked and ate dinner; then talked some more. What a great visit: good company, delicious home-cooked Italian food, homemade grappa and good conversation aided by an English-Italian dictionary. We promised to see them again in five years.

On the day before we left, when the weather cleared up. our b&b hosts pointed us to a hike on the green hill in the middle of the photo below (not the mountainous Dolomites in the background). 
clear day for a hike
We hiked up to a reservoir
and followed the beautiful river that fed it.
A good ending to a great time in this area. Rested, we were ready for Venice next. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bella vistas: Padova

A Sunday arrival in Padova - aka Padua - meant the tourist information office was closed. Armed with a 15-year-old map without a scale we trudged to our hotel thinking it was only a short distance and direct route. Walking a mile or so is usually no problem, but between the wayward turns, rough sidewalk, very warm sunny weather and the extra burden of luggage, we I arrived at the hotel exhausted and cranky.

We had a view of Basilico di Sant' Antonio, aka Basilico del Santo, across the street.
view from our hotel room window
Basilico del Santo from street level
After 30 minutes respite and a quick late lunch, we set out to explore the city. Padova is more urban and more Roman than Trieste. We did visit a few churches . . . 
dome in the Duomo
and standard attractions, such as Capella degli Scrovegni for Giotto's frescoes (scoring tickets was insane). Mostly we walked and walked. Part of the fun was exploring the big piazza, discovering the little hidden campos (squares), and window shopping. 
from above: Piazza delle Erbe - an open air fresh produce market
butcher in the market hall
One day we took a train trip to nearby Vicenza, hiked all the way up Mount Berico . . .
view of Vicenza from the hill
on a circuitous route to La Rotunda, aka Villa Capra Valmarena, the epitome of Palladio's architecture.
La Rotunda
It's as beautiful inside as it is out.  The round central hall is covered with beautiful frescos. But, sorry, no photos were allowed of the interiors. I gleaned from the docents that the owners use this place only during warmer weather. Not so much as a summer palace, but as a setting for corporate events and fundraisers. Imagine attending a party there! 

After coming back down the hill we took many wrong turns, got totally disoriented and walked in circles. When we finally got un-lost, we paid the price: gelatos. Reward for walking - ?