Thursday, February 28, 2008


Or not...I'm trying but don't seem to be getting anything done. Doing well at avoidance behavior - cleaned up my studio, did the laundry, yada yada. I have something on the design wall that I want to use as the starting point. These are from screens made from a picture of a tree in Paris. They trim all the branches off and the trees get these knobby ends. Then the branches grow out of those knobs. I guess it helps control the size of the trees so they don't get too big. It makes an interesting image. I used the screens to do deconstructed screen printing a la Kerr Grabowski. You can see how the image develops. It looks very wintery to me.

My next step was to make more thermofax screens using the same image but shrinking it down and making multiple tree images on the same screen. Did that and screened some fabric. But when I cut pieces and started putting them on the design wall, nothing happened. That is, nothing aha! happened. It looked like I was just sticking stuff up on the wall. So I've taken it all down and looked for different fabrics and am starting over. Except I can't seem to focus. It's really difficult to make myself stay and work on this, I keep finding other things I "have" to do (like writing this blog). Maybe it's the season.

I can see that Spring is coming - daffodils are up, snowdrops are blooming, the sun is rising earlier and setting later. But for cripes sake, why is Leap Year Day stuck on the end of the worst month - why not put it at the end of June? I know, it doesn't really make any difference, except mentally. I would rather it be March than February. March is not all that great a month either, but it's closer to Spring than February. Or maybe I should move to the Southern Hemisphere.

Last week I went to the opening of a show in which I have work. The group is Fiber Artists of Baltimore and it's been in existence for about 7 years. Unfortunately, this show is the farewell tour, so to speak. The group has fallen apart and even getting work for this show was a struggle. Of the 15 members only 4 of us had any work to submit. It made me think about group dynamics and what makes one group flourish and another die on the vine. Large groups have similar problems but there are usually new members coming in who have the energy to keep things going. But in a small group when the people who are doing all the work get tired of doing it and want to pass the baton and nobody else is willing to pick it up, that's pretty much the end of the group. The original premise of the group was to have it be a professional organization with the intent of promoting our work and having shows. We had two levels of membership - the professional (had to have slides of work, resume, artist statement, etc.) and the associate (just had to pay the dues). That worked for a while but then even some of the "professionals" had difficulty in meeting the requirements, particularly of having good slides of their work.

So then we thought, well, let's abandon what's not working well and continue with what is - everybody enjoyed and got a lot out of the critique sessions. Let's abandon the formal structure (officers, etc) and just go with meeting monthly and discussing our work. Except no one was willing to even make sure there was a meeting leader and remind people of the next meeting. I had just been co-chair for the previous 3 years and felt I had done my share. With no one else stepping in the group just faded away.

So what is it that keeps a group going? Everybody wanted the benefit of the group and nobody wanted to put out any effort. And the final blow was that there were personality conflicts. It's not necessary to like everybody in a small group, but if there are people who drive you nuts, it's difficult to enjoy the meeting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Baby Quilts

I made two quick baby quilts this past week. Both used the same pattern but totally different fabrics. The pattern is something I made up although I'm sure it's not original. There are three different variations on the blocks: some are 9 patches, some 4 patches, and some a combination of large and small squares. Once everything is sewn together, it all looks much more complicated than it really is.

The first one is Yellow. Very, very yellow. It's a gift for a friend of my son's who is having her baby next month. She doesn't know the gender and wants it to be a surprise. Back in my day it wasn't an option - it was always a surprise.

The second one is for my newest great (or is it grand) nephew, born last month. I went through my box of African motif fabrics and chose a random selection. The blocks are the same as the yellow quilt but with the different fabrics, it has a totally different feeling.

I'm meeting with the woman who is going to quilt my new bed quilt on Monday. I told her I would prepare the binding. It's a good thing because I cut the strips and came up too short. I needed 11 strips and the piece of fabric I dyed only was wide enough to get 10 strips. And even though I dyed some other fabric at the same time with the same dye solution, it doesn't match well enough to cut one strip from the other fabric. So I dyed another piece today and I sure hope it's enough. I calculated that I would get 12 strips. And I thought it would be neat to have narrow yellow lines crossing the binding strips and had to think a while on how to do that without getting green somewhere. The solution was to dye the fabric blue then use opaque fabric paint to make the lines. Seems to have worked.

So enough playing around - it's time to get back to the business of art.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Voted

Today is the 'Potomac Primary' - Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. This is the first time since I've lived in Maryland that the Presidential primary hasn't been a done deal by the time we get to vote. And we even got visits from all the candidates, something that doesn't even happen during the Presidential election. Maryland is so Democratic that everybody sees it as a given. Democratic candidates spend their time in states where they have to fight and Republican candidates see us as a lost cause. So it's actually exciting to have a primary that has some suspense. I wonder if the turnout will reflect that or will there be the usual apathy. So far the turnout has been 'slow but steady' and I imagine the sleet isn't helping any. The prediction is that 39% of the voters will turn out. I don't understand why people don't bother to cast their ballots; they're sure ready to complain when they don't like what happens. My feeling is that you have no right to complain if you don't vote.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Aside - I thought 'dilemma' was derived from Latin and that perhaps the plural would be dilemmae, plural feminine (I took Latin in High School, many decades ago). But in looking it up, I found that it originally derives from Greek di meaning two and lemma meaning proposition. And the first definition is "a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives". That's not exactly what I am using the word to mean, so went on to the second definition "any difficult or perplexing situation or problem." That's the one.

So if you're still dilemma is that there are some wonderful exhibition opportunities in the near future and all with entry deadlines in the next two weeks. The problem is that I don't want to enter old work because, well, because. But all my new work is either committed to another show that will overlap the time period, or entered into a show and I haven't yet heard back about the jurying. Which makes them unavailable until they are either accepted or rejected. So I will be passing on this current crop.

I did recently send in an entry to be considered for a solo show in Frederick, MD. They're looking for exhibits for 2 years in the future, which is a good time frame. I have a solo show coming up in October of this year and so one in 2009 or 2010 would be excellent. Their committee only meets 3 or 4 times a year, so I have no idea when I will hear back.

And in September is the entry for Quilt National 2009 and I plan to enter that one. Except this time I won't wait until August to make entries. That hasn't worked in the past, obviously. A good strategy would be to make lots of work between now and then and then select the best pieces and I would hope I have a good selection from which to pick. Entry forms aren't available until next month, according to their web site.

I will be going to the SDA/SAQA Joint Conference in early April, taking Judy Langille's workshop, looking forward to that big time. And then the day after I return I'm going to Chicago to visit family which will also give me the opportunity to spend a day at the IQF show. I went to that show the first time it was in Chicago but haven't been since. I've also been to the Houston version, only once, and was overwhelmed by the opportunities to spend money. And the quilts were nice, also. I plan to be at the Chicago show on Friday the 11th and will spend several hours in the SAQA booth. Stop by if you're there!