Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Diversion

I haven't got much to report on the in the art department because I have been immersed in genealogy. My Mother began doing the family history back in the 70's when everything had to be done by mail or with a personal visit. Or you could pay a researcher. There are some copies of census data that she paid $2 to a researcher to get. She amassed quite a bit of information and a lot of it was from talking with people who remembered names, dates, and places. I remember on one of her visits here we went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and spent the day looking through ships' logs trying to find a listing for my father's father and family who came over from Ireland in 1882. We spent hours looking through microfilm records and had no success. And because my Mom had gotten far enough back in the family that any more research would have to be done in foreign countries, she more or less gave it up and gave all the information to me.

This is my great aunt Rose.She was a bit of a black sheep - she was a show girl.I have pictures of her dressed in her follies costume. She was killed in a car accident.

I entered all the information onto the computer but never really went any further with it until about 2 years ago when a family member asked what information I had on one of the branches. It was then that I discovered that there is a wealth of information online and much of it is free. Census data, in particular, tells a story in 10 year increments, and depending on what information was being gathered, reveals quite a bit of history. Birth records, marriage records, draft registration records, and death records lead me ever deeper into my ancestors and I'm constantly discovering new cousins.

This is one of my great grandmothers.  She lived from 1863 to 1937.

I joined and was immediately sucked in by their little waving leaf symbols. These indicate that there is a hint to some more information on that particular person. It's like a never ending spiral - information leads to more information which leads to more information. It can be overwhelming. One of the hints led to another website called For the past ten years, volunteers have been entering data from cemeteries and also taking pictures of headstones and uploading them. There are currently 101 million grave records so it's pretty likely that some one you know is listed there somewhere. So now I'm finding out where many of my ancestors are buried, most of them in the Chicago area. And I'm thinking that it would be interesting to visit these cemeteries and find the gravesites of as many people in my tree as I can.

Alice's husband. Not such an upstanding guy - abandoned her with 5 young children.

I present the idea to my sister, who is slightly less than enthusiastic about this adventure, but is willing to humor me. She will drive me around to the various cemeteries and help me find the gravesites. Now I start calling cemeteries and asking for the locations of the graves. They are very helpful, as long as I only have a few names. But for one cemetery, I have 20 names, and Tom, the poor soul who answered the phone, said he couldn't do that over the phone. So I sent him my list, hoping that by the time we got there, he would have found everybody. It sort of worked out, he gave me a list of graves, and a map of the cemetery, and told me to take my cell phone with me. Who am I going to be calling, I ask? Well, just because I have a map and a location, doesn't mean I can walk right to the grave. Things aren't in nice neat rows and columns, and are definitely not marked. I'm to call Tom and give him a name that I can see, and he will tell me where I am, and which direction I need to walk. Six phone calls later, we had found most of what we were looking for.

More great grandparents. These two came over on the boat from Ireland in 1882.

Things I learned - lots of people can be buried in the same plot and not all of them have a headstone, especially infants and small children. Marble is not a good material for headstones because it weathers terribly. Stones that are flat on the ground are slowly but surely covered over with grass. 

Husband and wife. William was born in Germany.
Anna is the only great grandparent that I remember.

The Patrick Nolan who died in 1925 is my great grandfather. His son, Patrick J., died earlier than he did.

We really wanted to find the gravesite of our grandmother Sadie, who died of breast cancer in 1940. In my Mother's genealogy papers was a plot description from Calvary Cemetery. In this plot nine people had been buried, including our grandmother Sadie, grandfather Frank, and great grandmother Margaret. The first day we were there we hunted all over and all we saw was a large grassy area. This was most upsetting to think that all traces of these people were gone. On our return the next day Tom told us that there definitely was a grave marker on this plot, so we returned to the area. This time when I called Tom, he stayed on the line while I gave him names. Not far enough, then too far, okay right block. Now move south 4 plots. Then we see it. It's a marble monolith about 5 feet high and extremely weathered. We can barely read the names, but there is enough to know this is the right one.

The plot listing tells the sad story: Infant of Patrick Nolan, died October 14, 1885. Mother Margaret died 2 days later. Childbirth was a very dangerous event in the 19th century.

We spent 4 days total and I have about 40 pictures. I'm discovering new relationships and have even made contact with a second cousin I had never knew existed. It's odd to have memories of the same people and places, share some genes, and yet be virtual strangers. Imagine visiting the old countries and finding cousins there also! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Quilt National 2013

Finally! After waiting nine months I can post the image of my quilt that is now in Quilt National 2013. It is titled Post No Bills and is the result of a "what have I got to lose" feeling when the piece was not cooperating with me and I didn't like what was happening on it. Big graphic black X's, I mean, haven't you wanted to do something like that on a piece that just wasn't working?

Post No Bills
25" H x 45"W

The opening was this past weekend at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio and 69 of the 85 selected artists attended, along with the 3 jurors. This is my second acceptance in Quilt National and this one was just as exciting and humbling as the previous one.

The sign that greets you as you walk in the door to the Dairy Barn. 

A few days before the opening I had a terrible dream. I went into the exhibit and the quilts were hung very strangely - three high, with one above the other, and they used clothespins. Sort of like they had been hung at a state fair. But worse than that, I walked 'round and 'round, and I could not find my quilt. Not a very good situation. So, just to prove that it is actually hanging there, here is a picture.

The catalog is very well done. The pictures in the catalog never capture the essence of the work, but this one comes fairly close. And the colors are mostly true. They have changed publishers this year to DragonThreads and the catalog will not be available on Amazon. You will have to purchase it directly from the Dairy Barn or DragonThreads for $29.95 plus shipping.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Donation to SAQA Auction

Today I put my donation for the annual SAQA Benefit Auction in the mail. It's a continuation of my Scribble series, now up to 18. The background fabric looks like it's monoprinted on a gelatin plate with the impressions of a furnace filter (the turquoise blue circles) and a thermofax screen taken from a picture of a fence done with curlicues. Not totally sure about the monoprinting, it may be screen printed with thickened dye.

The Benefit Auction is the main money raiser for SAQA and I have donated every year that they have had it. That gets me a bunch of stars on the listing page. This year they are putting all the quilts on a pinterest page, I guess so that people can repin them to their own pinterest pages. I have a pinterest page, but I don't think there is anything on it. Occasionally I get a notice that someone is "following" me, and all I can think is that they are going to be pretty bored because I have not gotten into the pinterest thing.

I have been spending lots of time in my garden. In previous years, my garden was not very interesting since it was in deep shade. I grew lots of impatiens, hosta, and ferns. Last year all my impatiens died, due to a fungus, and so I had no color at all in the shade. (This year the garden shop is not even selling impatiens.) A few weeks ago we decided to take out the maple tree that was shading the deck and garden. It was a very messy tree and dripped sap and all kinds of other junk all summer long. The huge up side of taking this tree out is that my former deep shade garden is now a full sun garden. Yippee! There are so many more interesting plants available for a sun garden and I want them all! And because I had an electrical outlet put on the outside of the new garage, I was finally able to put in a water feature - this little fountain. I bought a fountain kit online, but it would be easy to construct this just by buying the parts locally. The only semi-difficult part would be drilling a hole for the tube though the rocks. The water drips over the rocks and down into a 5 gallon bucket buried underneath the stones. 

It makes the most pleasing water dribbling sound and I love it. I decided I needed a second water feature, but didn't have another available outlet that I could use. Guess what - they make immersible pumps powered by solar panels. Of course, this means the pump only works when there is sun shining, but I found one that has a battery that will store energy. I installed it yesterday, and even though it was a mostly cloudy day, the pump ran for the rest of the day and even after dark. It was still running at 10pm, so that's pretty cool. I hope to gets lots of bird visitors.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Open Studio

To celebrate the completion of my new space, I had an Open Studio yesterday. The weather was perfect and I was pleased with the turnout. I rearranged the tables to allow for open space in the center of the room (love those rolling tables!), put out lots of food, and hung some work. In addition to inviting lots of fiber friends, I also invited neighbors on the street who had to suffer through the construction and look at the spot-a-pot and huge dumpster for several months. As I suspected, they were all very curious as to what we had constructed.

Everything is ready and waiting for the guests to show up. Several years ago I made a life sized doll, but she got tired of living in a dark bedroom and moved to Philadelphia. This is her new-born sister, as yet unnamed.

The doorway into the inner sanctum.

The space is all set up. Lots of food available, but everybody must have been on a diet because only a few people nibbled here and there. Cookies and fruit and veggies left over- I wonder which will get eaten first?

Everybody exclaimed about the light, and it is wonderful. It's as bright as day inside no matter what it looks like outside. 

I'm showing off my closet space, and received lots of oohs and aahs. If my calculations are correct, there is more than 600 cubic feet of storage. I had to accommodate for the sloping ceiling, so everything is arranged by height, but it is all being put to use. 

Smiles all around.

All in all, I think it was quite successful, and I'm thinking about another one in a year or so. Maybe I can recruit some other artists in the area and we can have a studio tour. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

EXPO 2013

Every other year my local quilt guild, Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild, puts on its show. I always get involved in this, and have been in charge of hanging the show many times. I think this is the 4th time. Hanging the show involves planning where each quilt will be hung, hiring the pole and drape company, supervising the actual hanging, and also supervising the take down at the end of the show. It's easier now than the first two times I did this because we hire a company to come in an set up the poles and drapes. We used to rent a hanging system from another guild. It was made of wooden poles and used sheets as drapes. It was adequate, but looked home made. Getting it set up involved renting a truck to get the poles, getting volunteers to load and unload the truck, getting volunteers to set up the poles, getting volunteers to take down the poles, getting volunteers to reload the truck, drive to the storage facility, and unload the truck. This was a daunting task, not to mention physically challenging. We're not getting any younger. It costs to have this company come in, but when you figure the cost of renting the hanging system and renting a truck, and the huge hassle factor, it's worth every penny. And it looks very professional.

If you are in the Baltimore area the weekend of March 16-17, I hope you will take the opportunity to visit our show. There will be more than 300 quilts on display, plus multiple opportunities to spend money. We have vendors, a members' sale table, silent auction, and a room full of fabric remnants for sale at bargain prices. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I have been taken to task by several people for not updating my blog. They want studio pictures and more. So I have been guilted into updating this. It would just sound whiny if I tried to make excuses, so I won't.

It is very difficult to get back into the swing of things when you have been away from it for so long. I spent many days organizing my studio and putting stuff away, hoping that I can find it again when I need it. I just couldn't seem to get into an art mode, so I made some sock monkeys, some pillows, and some curtains. Then I decided to give myself a kick in the pants by doing some surface design. I have not done any deconstructed screen printing for a very long time, probably several years, so this was my choice. Dug out the notebook with class notes and thought it would be a good idea to review the DVD that Kerr Grabowski did.

I know I moved that DVD over to the studio and there aren't that many places that it could be. Still, it took several days of thinking and looking before I located it.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this DSP was to find out if my studio was warm enough for the dyes to batch without having to add extra heat. They need at least 4 hours of 70 degree heat, preferably hotter and longer.

I worked on the first pieces and let them batch sitting in front of a south facing window. The studio itself is only about 64 degrees, according to the heat pump control. But with direct sun in the window, that spot gets warmer. Batched them for at least a day, then washed them out and they came out as expected.

I had an idea - I could batch the fabrics in the powder room and put a little heater in there. That would jack the temperature up way above 70. Did that for the second set of fabrics. But they did not turn out as expected - all were a lot lighter than I thought they should be. 

There are a lot of factors that could have caused this. Maybe I didn't put enough dye into the print paste. Some of the fabrics were from the first session and I was over printing them, so I had to put the soda ash fixer into the print paste - maybe I didn't put enough in. Or maybe I was using print paste that had exhausted already. 

I did get some great markings and after putting my original expectations out of my mind, the fabrics all turned out great. Or mostly great, and certainly useable.

Here are pictures of the studio. All along the left is my design wall - 4 sheets of 4x8 insulation covered with fleece, 16 feet of design wall. 

I have 3 work tables. For the one in the front I took a large piece of cardboard that the table was delivered in, covered it with rug padding, then felt, then plastic. Makes a nice print surface.

All three tables are elevated and on wheels. This turned out to be a tricky project. I've used pvc pipe in the past to elevate tables, but the pipes sat right on the floor and splayed out. This wouldn't work for putting them on rollers. Turns out that the tables legs fit snugly into 1" diameter pvc pipe, and so they could be seated vertically in a support with casters on the bottom. Then we discovered that the tables were slightly different in where the legs attached and how wide apart they are, and one was slightly splayed. Each set of rollers had to be custom made. I named the tables Amy, Beth, and Carol and wrote that on both the tables and the rollers. 

Looking towards the sink area. I love having this right next to where I'm working. So much easier than my old studio. And much brighter.

And now to a Before and After set of pictures. The Before pictures are from a Blog Post from June 27, 2005. I had just come home from QSDS and did a major clean out and reorganization of my basement studio.  See the pictures here.

This is what it looks like now - new paint job, new carpet, furniture. All of the grandkids toys have been moved down here and also the tv. This is the new play area. Still looks a little spartan, but there is lots of space for doing acrobatics.

And have you ever seen such a clean and un-cluttered basement? All my wet studio stuff was back here, plus lots of power tools, and a fair amount of junk. A ton of stuff went to the studio, another ton of stuff went to the garage, and two tons of stuff went to the dump. With new walls, a newly painted floor (that you can actually see), and lots of light, it could be an operating room. 

Let's see how long it stays that way.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What I Found

In all the cleaning out and moving, I found lots of old stuff that I had forgotten about. In particular, many old quilts. Some of them weren't worth saving, so they are gone now. But then I came across a piece that I made when I turned 50. As I remember, it was a pretty traumatic event. Now, as I am about to turn 65, I would much rather be turning 50 instead. This piece is titled Oh No! 50! A little bit of editing with paint and now it more accurately reflects the times.

The signature required an amendment also.

This makes me wonder where I will be and what will I be doing in 15 more years. Sort of a scary thought.