Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Where does the time go?

Already it's almost June! My daughter's birthday is June 1 and it always takes me by surprise. Except this year I've already gotten her card and her present, so score one for me. And my son's birthday is June 11, and I've already gotten his card and present, score two. Now I wish I were as prepared for my Michael James class at QSDS. We have a book list and I've ordered two. I'm wondering if they're going to arrive in time to read any of them ahead of time. And he also gave suggestions for projects, pick one of three. So far, I've picked none of three. That probably won't get done either.

So what have I been doing? I finally got the contract from Purdue U for the commission and I've started working on that in earnest. I had dyed some fabric intending it to be background, then decided I didn't want to use that, and dyed some more. And I've also been printing up some fabrics; here is one of them.

This piece has been cut into many smaller rectangular and square pieces, ready to be pinned up on the design wall. I will need to get this all composed and pinned together at least before QSDS so I can take it along and work on it there. Can't believe it's next week!

Then as soon as I return I will be packing up for my class at Craft Summer at Miami University. My class filled several weeks ago, which both surprised and pleased me. I planned out the curriculum way last September so I need to pull that out and go over everything and also gather the supply list. Too many things to do!

One more thing...

The announcement from Purdue University regarding the Art on Campus selection:
News article

Looking at the date on this news release, it seems to me that this was published before they contacted me. Should have been keeping up!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back from the Pacific Northwest

Had a wonderful time in Oregon and Washington. Spent most of our time along the Columbia River Gorge after seeing Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens. Spectacular! We did alot of hiking, some of it on snow-covered paths. Thirteen feet deep! The paths were marked with stakes, but it was very weird to think we were walking on so much snow. Thirteen feet is about 5 years worth of snow where I live; and alot of it had already melted. The sun was so warm we were hiking in t-shirts.
This is Mt. Rainier with a cloud flowing over the top. We had perfect weather for nearly the entire week - clear blue skies and warm temperatures. Not very common in the Pacific Northwest. And the day we spent in Portland they had a record high of 95 degrees. Could have missed that, we have enough of that here.

This is a group of hikers heading up Mt. Rainier. You can hire a guide to lead you all the way to the top. It's a two day event with only about 4-5 hours of sleep. Very strenuous.

Then we went to see Mt. St. Helens, the volcano that erupted in May of 1980. There has been some volcanic activity here with lava domes building up in the crater for the past two years. Sometimes the dome erupts with some steam and ash, but nothing major, as long as you're far enough away. The land around Mt. St. Helens, at least what is part of the National Monument, is being left to recover on its own, and it's pretty slow going. Nearest to the volcano it looks like a moonscape. The day we were there the wind was blowing fiercely and getting bombarded with ash was not pleasant.

Much of the land that was affected by the 1980 eruption is owned by Weyerhauser, the lumber company. They lost millions of trees. They weren't going to let the land recover on its own, so they harvested the dead trees, tilled the soil, and planted millions of seedlings. The contrast between the replanted land and the untouched land is pretty stark.

This is Mt. Hood. It's possible to ski here all year round. We stayed at the Timberline Lodge, which was built in 1936 by the WPA. It has a very interesting history. It's constructed to withstand the huge amount of snow that falls every year. Our room was on the third level and we looked out our window to see the top of the snow. On the second floor the snow nearly covered the windows. And again, we could walk on the snow in our shirtsleeves.

The rest of the trip we spent along the Columbia River Gorge. Did a bit of hiking, several miles a day. Some hikes were level and quite easy, even paved, while others seemed to go straight up the side of the cliffs. The paved paths were supposedly wheelchair accessible, but I wouldn't want to be pushing a wheelchair up some of the grades.

This one was not wheelchair accessible. This is the path up Beacon Rock, a mile long with an 800 foot elevation gain. The path was constructed by two men in the 1930's and it's all switchbacks. Goes up to the top of the rock, which is along the Columbia River and is thought to be the cone of an ancient volcano. It stands by itself and has been a landmark forever. Lewis and Clark mention it in their writings.

Along the Oregon side of the river are many spectacular waterfalls. This is Multnomah Falls and is the 2nd largest year-round waterfall in the US. It falls 620 feet. You can go up to this bridge and see the upper falls. Several years ago a boulder came off the cliff and fell into the pool at the base of the falls. It was as big as a schoolbus and made a splash 70 feet high. All those standing on this bridge were drenched, including a wedding party there to take pictures. I'll bet those are memorable!

Here is one of the stones with petroglyphs on it. The stones have been moved from their original locations because those sites were drowned with the building of the dams. The dams provide electric power and make navigation of the river easier, but it's a shame that so much history has been lost.

I enjoyed taking pictures of flowers and other vegetation on our hikes. Spring is when an abundance of wild flowers bloom and they were everywhere. Don't ask me the names of these flowers; I didn't have a field guide, and probably wouldn't remember them anyhow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Too long

I guess I've been occupied with other stuff because I sure haven't posted anything here. One interesting event was a visit from an art critic to one of my fiber groups. We paid him to come and five members brought quilts for him to look at and comment on. It was very enlightening, not only to hear what he said about my work, but what he said about the other works. He is an excellent critic in that he knows how to give 'negative' feedback in a positive manner. He explained what he liked and didn't like and why. I wish I had taped the critique because I know I have forgotten alot of it already.

I sort of started a new piece but after messing with it for several days and not being happy with it at all, took it all down off the design wall. It felt as if I were just putting up pieces of fabric with no thought behind it all. I think that I need to have some kind of design image in mind, or some kind of feeling, or something in my head in order to create a meaningful composition. Just putting fabrics up on the wall just doesn't work for me.

But I did make some postcards for a mini-demonstration for my local guild. And, wonderful people that they are, they thought the postcards were wonderful. During the demo, I started several more postcards just by wonder-undering (is that really a verb?) fabric to Timtex. The next day I put stitching on them and finished the edges, so I have a another handful of postcards. They seem to be like potato chips - you can't make just one.

I'm packing for a week in Oregon; we plan to visit Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helen and drive up the Columbia River Gorge. Picture taking opportunities galore. I hope there is Internet access where ever we're staying. It seems that almost everybody offers it these days. Can't bear to be disconnected!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scientific experiment

I'll bet that title has you eager to see what this is all about. I'm testing some spray to see how well it protects fabric from fading. I got it at REI, the outdoor adventure store. It's a UV protectant spray designed for use on anything that sits out in the sun. It doesn't specifically mention fabric, but it does say vinyl, tires, plastics, leather, fiberglass, patio furniture, pool covers, jackets and handbags. And fine, finished wood furniture. So why not cotton fabric?

I sewed together three pieces of fabric, cut off a sample to save as the original, sprayed half of the remainder. It's been sitting out in the sun for several days so far, too early to see any change.

The sprayed section is on the left and extends about 2/3 of the way across the fabric. The spray itself made the fabric a little darker, so if you think you're seeing a difference, you're really not.

The stuff is called 303 Aerospace Protectant and claims to be environmentally safe: non-toxic, non-flammable, and biodegradable. They call it SPF 40 for your stuff. So we'll see what happens.

And the azaleas are in full bloom.