Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Snow/Spring in Kansas

Snow along highway south of Kansas City airport

A sign of spring!

Bradford Pear trees line the street in front of my old house.  
They were tiny when I planted them in 1988!

By the time my trip to Kansas was over, I had seen  sleet, ice, snow, a thunderstorm with great lightning, wind (a constant in KS), and sun!  I guess everyone jokes about their weather, but in Kansas, well.......
I'm very excited about the upcoming show at Warehouse 414 in Topeka.  The show opens on First Friday, and I'm sad that I won't be there to visit with all the people.  I believe the show will be very strong.  I was so glad I made the last-minute decision to take two 4-yard lengths of art cloth.  I secured each length of cloth to a dowel, and they will hang out in the open space next to two different furniture groupings.  They look wonderful in the space!  Lois Kruse's beautiful photographs and Valerie Smith's gorgeous jewelry look stunning.  I'm certain the show will be well-received.
As I often do when I visit Topeka, I drove by my old house.  Frankly, I'm not very interested in the house, itself, but I follow the development of the trees and side garden with great interest.
I loved my little "side garden" with the limestone path and pergola.  There are new modifications that I dislike, but the gorgeous Bradford Pear trees!  Oh!  Their size and beauty make me very happy.  I thought I would miss my house when I moved, but it was the loss of my garden that I mourned.  A house is just a house:  home is where your family dwells.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Camping out in Chicago

Things didn't go quite as planned today.  After connecting in Dallas, our flight was unable to land in Kansas City due to the weather, so we proceeded on to Chicago.  The weather that prevented our arrival in KC was rapidly moving toward Chicago.  My options were to take a flight to Omaha (sans luggage) and drive to Topeka, or hole up in a hotel and wait until morning, increasing the chances that I might arrive at the same time as my baggage.  
The irony of this is that, as a rule, I do not check luggage.  Never.  I knew that I would have to check at least one bag this morning, as I was transporting a large bag with artwork.  My sore back caused me to reconsider my carry-on strategy this morning.  
So....I'm having an adventure!  I'm in a hotel room near the airport.  I have no jammies, undies, or makeup.  I was given a little care package at the hotel desk with a toothbrush and deodorant.  I discovered that I have a mascara (I have NO idea why this is in my purse), lip gloss, and an eye pencil.  Since I am unable to control my hair at all times tomorrow will be no exception.
I'll miss my coat in the morning (what was I thinkin?) as I leave the hotel for the airport, with an unspoken promise to myself not to pack for a trip in the middle of the night and never check my bag.
The forecast for Chicago tomorrow:  rain mixed with snow, temp 33, wind-chill 21.  Wish me luck.  My. Coat. Is. Packed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Packing and organizing work for the show in KS

"Shreds of a Story" (finished size 19"wide by 31" long)

"Shreds of a Story" (detail #1)

"Shreds of a Story" (detail #2)

This piece kicked my butt.  The materials were very difficult to "wrestle into submission". Good thing I like how it turned out!  My sewing machine wasn't very happy about it, either.
I was thinking of all sorts of ways to finish the edges, but ended up with a zig-zag at the outer edge and a straight stitch just inside it.  I'm satisfied with how it looks.  
Now I have to finish my inventory of items for the show in KS, as well as figure out the best way to wrap the framed pieces (I expect lots of cardboard and bubble wrap will be involved).
My flight departs @ 11 am tomorrow, but I understand there is a winter storm coming into Kansas City, so things could get dicey.  I hope I don't get marooned in Dallas.  I'll be wearing my Uggs tomorrow!  Now, where's my coat?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Collage Mania!

"Monkey Business"  (8x10 matted)

"Garden Pathway" (8x10 matted)

Collage Mania, a fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society, has begun!  The reverse-auction ends today, and general auction will begin on May 5th (Gold Donor Day) through May 7th, 2009.  The goal for this year is to raise $20K in 3 days!  Fiber Art For A Cause donates 100% of proceeds to the American Cancer Society.  Read more on Virginia Spiegel's website:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Driving to Round Top TX

2 donkeys pass each other in a field

Field of bluebonnets (and a cool stone bridge) near Round Top

bluebonnets along IH 10 between San Antonio and Schulenburg TX

beautiful sunset

I drove to and from Round Top TX (population 77) yesterday to pick up artwork from the Copper Shade Tree Gallery.  I enjoy the 2.5 hour drive through the lovely countryside.  I was happy to see some bluebonnets!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pushing 2 pieces forward (part 2): "Shreds of a Story"

"Shreds of a Story":  a cloth/paper quilt, assembled using custom-created cloth from 
Spoonflower, Misty Fuse, shredded post-consumer paper, sari silk/cloth remnants,
green batting made from plastic bottles (I love this stuff!), and an unloved piece of hand-dyed/printed cloth as the quilt back (unfinished)

Shreds of a Story, detail

I have enjoyed working on this piece a great deal because I love pushing the limits of what makes a "quilt", and adore working with things that are typically considered "trash".  This is my 2nd venture into the possibilities of using custom-printed Spoonflower cloth.  In this case, I uploaded a detail of a collaged postcard, made from a variety of things, including a Korean snack bag.  Rectangles of the custom cloth were appliqued to the surface of the couched assemblage.  The quilting is ongoing, but very gridlike.  I have no idea how to finish the edges, as I don't think a traditional binding will look that great.  I need to stare at it awhile, but welcome any suggestions.  I'm leaning toward a zigzag finished edge.

Pushing forward on 2 pieces (part 1): "Konza Sunset"

Konza Sunset, detail 1
Konza Sunset, detail 2
Konza Sunset (unbound, at this  stage)

I have enough thread on this piece to stretch across the state of Texas!  I was quaking in my shoes about painting over a quilted surface.   Look:  it didn't hurt a bit!  I added loads of free-motion embroidery, fabric ravelings, and more paint.  I am pleased with the result.  Making a landscape from this sort of piecing is probably a stretch, but the colors were just what I wanted.  The effect of the piecing reminds me of the patchwork that is the Flint Hills of Kansas, where the Konza Prairie grassland preserve is located.  Part of my sister's ashes are on that land, and tomorrow marks the 8th anniversary of her death.  Interestingly, I was not consciously thinking about this when I started the piece, but I will dedicate it to her memory.  I miss her so very much.  Priscilla Anne Tucker was born May 26, 1947.  She would have been 62 in May.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of her.  It is weighing heavily on me today.  Working hard in the studio has helped a lot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Modifying a quilted surface

larger view of surface with paint and (previously painted) Misty Fuse

small amount of Stewart Gill paint applied to surface

Misty Fuse, painted with Golden liquid acrylic paint, torn into rough-edged layers and fused to surface over paint.

I'm working on a small abstract landscape.  In trying to create a horizon with thread, I decided that some paint (eek!) and painted Misty Fuse might help create the line I am after.  I intend to quilt the surface more extensively where the paint and fusible have been applied, but decided to stop and photograph the progression of steps.  Prior to this, I admit to being hesitant about applying paint to a surface that has been extensively quilted (a little voice in my head saying, "What if you mess it up after all that work/time....then what?")  I am trying to shut the voice up and forge ahead.  What's the worst thing that can happen?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Paper cloth experiment

Paper from my shredder

Shredded paper fused to a piece of Spoonflower custom fabric with Misty Fuse.
The cloth has imagery of shredded paper

detail of sari silk strips, layered over paper, fused

full view of cloth/paper construction prior to quilting

I have a lot of things going on in the studio (ADD?  possibly).  It is fun to have several projects moving along at once, as I like moving back and forth between them.  I've been playing with my recent purchase of custom-printed cotton from Spoonflower, and here is one of the experiments.  I adore using things that have had a previous life and constructing something new from them, and here is another of those projects.  In this case, I am continuing my exploration of shredded paper.  I love the look of a big pile of randomly shredded paper!  All those bits of color mixed together haphazardly is very exciting.  
I have been using them as a resist under a silkscreen, stitching them together, fusing them, and now a combination of cloth, paper, silk strips, and silk yarn.  I like where this is going.......
pathway with birdbath

Indian Hawthorne in bloom

Living Stone succulent embedded into a limestone boulder

Texas Mountain Laurel in bloom (smells exactly like grape koolaid-no kidding!)

This time of year, I'm in the garden constantly.  I relish my morning stroll through the garden to see what has grown and changed from the previous observation.  This morning there are more roses in bloom, the Hawthorne shrubs have opened up even more.  The bees love them, even if they don't smell that fragrant to me.  My small bed of wildflowers is loaded with bluebonnets.  This may be one of the only places I'll see them this spring, as they are sparse along the roadsides.  My Living Stones (totally bizarre-looking plants) are blooming!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fiber Artists of San Antonio annual fashion show

Michael Quintanilla's  beautiful bridal gown constructed of newspapers

The model struts her amazing gown down the runway

A student constructs her prom gown with old CD's
(note the bodice is done with broken CD parts)-beautiful!

Today was the Fiber Artists of San Antonio's annual wearable art runway show, and it certainly didn't disappoint.  There are many wonderful, talented designers in this city.  The final piece in the show was a surprise from Master of Ceremonies Michael Quintanilla, who created a gorgeous bridal gown, complete with headdress and bouquet, entirely from old newspapers!
It was truly a sight to see.  Another of my favorite pieces in the show was my friend, Pat Schulz,
beautiful (and LONG) boa, constructed from used Olay facial washcloths that had been dyed by Laura Pitts.  I'm in the process of making a quilt with them, so I was thrilled to see how beautiful they looked in this construction.  What a fun day!   Fiber Artspace had a table in the sale room, which was fun.  I put together some moleskins that are embellished with various things, including a few that have a cool image of my mid-1940's era parents.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bees and Batman

Bee House is on fence to the right of my bat house.
Like the Batman logo?  This was my birthday present from Tim several years ago.

For some reason I couldn't load this image along with the others in the previous post.  I thought it would be fun to view the two multi-family dwellings in one shot.  I am not certain that I have any bats, but I keep hoping......

Mason Bees get a new home in my garden!

Mason Bee Nest
(the dark ended tubes have bee larvae inside)

half of the tubes were split to assess the larvae prior to shipment

the bees were purchased from High Country Gardens in Santa Fe NM

I was distraught last year when spring rolled around and I had virtually no bees in my garden.   Whereas a typical spring day would bring hundreds, maybe thousands, of honey bees to the Indian Hawthornes, Russian Sage, and citrus, I observed only a handful last year.
I read that High Country Gardens would sell bee nests, along with the option of purchasing Mason Orchard Bees, I jumped at the opportunity.  Patience was required, because I missed the window last year and had to wait until this spring.  My package arrived yesterday, and I couldn't wait to open them up this morning and install the nest!  To my surprise, one of the bees was hatching when I opened the package, so I placed his tube in the open air next to the nest while I installed it on the fence.
These bees are wonderful pollinators, and because they don't raise honey or live in a colony they are not at all aggressive.  Apparently the only way you can risk being stung is to "squeeze" one.  I'll try to resist the urge.  My bee-charmer daughter will be so pleased!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Liz Axford artist talk at Fiber Artspace

Liz Axford discusses one of her nuno-felted constructions
Liz Axford, standing in front of her nuno-felted piece

Liz Axford kindly offered to return to San Antonio to present an artist-discussion of her work in the Fiber Artspace, where she currently has a solo show, "Elements".  She brought numerous samples of her de-gummed silk organza to demonstrate the assembly of wool and silk, and discussed the process of felting these elements into felt.  
We were surprised with a visit by JaneSassaman,  http://janesassaman.com/Quilt_Gallery.html, who is teaching @ Quilting Adventures in New Braunfels.  She, along with several class participants, drove into San Antonio for the evening and we were honored to have her stop by the gallery.  It was a true pleasure to meet her, as I have long been an admirer of her work.  Thanks, Jane!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 16: Homeward bound

Leslie, Karen, and Billie in Santa Monica

All good things must come to an end:  it was time to return home.  I felt so good about the time we spent together, and the fact that we were able to see both our daughters while we were in Los Angeles.
I occasionally worry that I will lose my deep connection to Billie and Karen because I live so far away.  Spending this amount of time together is so important to me, and it was great that we were in a place that was "separate" from our day-to-day lives.  It gave us a better opportunity to "just be".  
I began the trip suffering from a respiratory virus that was complicated by my allergies, and it all faded away as the week progressed.  
This morning I dropped Billie and Karen at LAX first, as their flight was several hours earlier than mine.  I refueled the rental car, sent a box to myself from the UPS store to minimize the hassle at the airport (no checked bags for me!), and had time to go to a tiny nail salon and get my polish changed!
The plane was about half-full, so I had my side of the emergency row all to myself!  
It was great to see Tim again!  I missed him so much.  We drove over to Chuck and Ellie's house and picked up Bizzi, who was very happy to see us, and went home.
I had a great time on our trip, but it was lovely to be home.  Ahh!  My own bed!  What a pleasure.

March 15th: Hollywood Farmer's Market

Leslie & Billie reliving our old ritual of wandering the Farmer's Market
(although it was usually in Kansas!)

This market is a happening!

The balloon man has an enthusiastic audience

We rose early this morning, threw on some clothes, and Alissa picked us up.  We headed to the big Farmer's Market in Hollywood.  Wow!  What a place!  I would love to have access to a market like this one:  everything you could want.  I think I could avoid the grocery store most of the time with a market like this close to home.  Every fruit and vegetable under the sun, eggs, fresh poultry and meat, flowers, nuts, and there were dozens of food stalls serving Korean, Mexican, Thai, etc., along with the homemade soap and lotion crowd.  We wandered around for several hours picking out our ingredients for dinner.  We spotted Tim Curry while we were there.
We regrouped and drove to Santa Monica to wander around, and we visited a cool store that offers all sorts of craft-related endeavors.  Alissa is considering learning how to sew, so she wanted to check it out.  Additional sightings included a woman from "House" (which I have never seen, so it meant nothing to me), and Mary J Blige, which was cool.  We had a gorgeous, perfect day to walk around.  It is easy to see why people fall in love with Southern California weather.
We drove over to Alissa's house and started preparing dinner:  roasted golden beets, leeks, carrots, and potatoes; two roast chickens stuffed with lemon, onion, and garlic; pan-seared asparagus, fresh snow peas, french bread and butter, a pan-reduction sauce, and strawberry-rhubarb pie that was purchased at the market.  Yum yum!  We had a lot of fun cooking together in Alissa's kitchen.  She is a very good cook:  so much better than I was at her age.  My oldest is in town on business and came over for dinner, and we had so much fun spending time together!  It was one of my greatest pleasures of the trip to see the two girls become reacquainted with one another.
We returned to the hotel late, but very happy.  Tomorrow we must travel home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Getty!

This is an untouched piece of Carrara marble...sure looks like coral

a beautiful element of the Getty Center

colors and textures of the garden

part of the succulent garden

March 14th
The Getty!  What an amazing afternoon:  we started with lunch in the wonderful restaurant on the property.  Billie and I elected to take the architectural and garden tours.  The docent on each of the tours were well-informed and interesting.  I was, if anything, more interested in the structure than the contents of the facility, so I enjoyed learning about the evolution of the project.
I added some images from the exterior walls, and several photos from the garden.  One fascinating fact about the construction was that the stone is Carrara marble quarried in Italy. A special process was developed to cut the stones.  One notices that some of the surfaces are smooth and others have a rough, natural appearance.  The rough ones were split by striking the upper surface of the block, allowing the stone to make a natural split.  The result is stone that reveals fossilized artifacts.  The image above that rises out of the wall surface is actually a section of the natural stone prior to manipulation:  note how it resembles coral!  I'll include a link to the Wikipedia entry for the Getty Center architecture.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getty_Center
A wonderful surprise is that my oldest daughter is in LA, and we met her this evening for sushi.  It was so much fun to be together!  The girls hadn't seen each other in 15 years or so....well-before we moved to Texas.  
Friday, March 13th
Today was Karen's daughter's birthday, so we spent the day roaming around with her.  We took her to lunch @ Gladstone's, then drove up the coast through Malibu and back down to Santa Monica, where we wandered around in the Promenade.  I noticed that the area looks more
mall-cloned than it used to.  Is this my imagination?
For her birthday, Alissa and her husband had  reservations at Mario Battali's restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza.  We barely skidded in there inside our reservation window, but once we arrived we enjoyed an excellent meal.  The pizza was amazing, and I definitely "blew off" my low-carb regimen (well, the entire week has been a wash, to be honest) but what a way to go.  Next week is going to be painful as I re-enter low-carb territory.

More images from the Getty

smooth and rough surfaces are juxtaposed throughout the Center 

The contrast of light and shadow is certainly an integral part of the design.
Here is a fossilized leaf in one of the steps.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sunset in Cambria

Karen & I walking the beach in Cambria, looking for moonstones

CA Road Trip Day 4:  Although I slept like a baby in our cute hotel in Cambria last night (window cracked open so we could hear the surf all night from just across the road) we had to rise early and hit the road.  Karen had a meeting in LA @ 12:30 this afternoon, so we elected to stay on the 101 S rather than PCH 1 between Cambria and LA.  The drive was still lovely.  It was amazing how much the terrain changed as we headed south.  I was fascinated at how similar the land between the coast and the base of the mountains looked to the Kansas Flint Hills.  I realize it seems ridiculous, but I couldn't help thinking about it.
Karen's daughter works at Dreamworks, so Billie and I got a wonderful tour of the facility while Karen was busy with her meeting.  It was interesting to be in an animation production facility of that size, since I have been in so many small animation facilities over the years.  What a beehive of activity!  Despite the close proximity of the buildings to the freeway, the noise is completely ablated by clever placement of numerous fountains and other water elements throughout the grounds.  It was a clever use of "white noise", to be sure.
We discovered that our GPS wouldn't allow me to manually program our hotel address into the database, which made for an interesting scenic tour of LA.  Oh well....we finally made it, no thanks to "Julia", the name we have assigned the female voice of our gps.
Everyone is fatigued tonight, so we returned to our hotel a bit earlier than usual.  We will spend the day with Karen's daughter tomorrow, as it is her 31st birthday.  My daughter arrives from Philly around 1 pm tomorrow.  She will be in town for a week for work, and we hope to spend some time with her in the evening.  I'm so happy about this!