Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Itchin' Again and Another Ponder

Backing turned to front over batting, edge of top basted to secure.
"Sea and Sand" is all basted up in a neat tidy package, which makes me itch to get going on the quilting. However, that requires changing thread and set-up and settings on my machine. I'm loath to do that when a piecing project is all set to run through the machine.

Top of quilt is at bottom, pieces added from left not breaking thread between rows.

So as I suspected I would do, I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon listening to podcasts while chain-piecing the rectangles and spacers of the tiles quilt. I've got 3 more rows to go and then I can snip these apart, press, and sew these vertical rows between the long strips of sashing.

Here's your ponder for the day, from another comedian, Louis C.K. It doesn't seem to matter what your shtick is, some things remain the same.

When you thwart what’s real about you in order to keep creating content for financial need, you’re just not gonna make it. You’re not gonna keep going. You have your number. It’s very dangerous to be liked by more people than should like you. It’s bad for them, and it’s bad for you. There’s gonna be a shock down the road for them, or you’re gonna dilute yourself and take yourself to a place where you can’t live with who you are. I think that you make an honest account of who you are and you live with the results. The results will be appropriate to who you are… If you’re saying things just to piss people off, then I don’t know why do it. If you’re saying things just to please people, that’s a short-lived victory. But if you just say the things you believe, and the things you like to say, and that mean something to you — if you stay close to the gut — then everything will work itself out.

My woodworking brother and I had several discussions about this. At the time, both of us were toying with the idea of making a living off our art, yet there didn't seem to be much interest in the sort of art we enjoyed making. We'd look at what was selling and knew we couldn't bring ourselves to "produce for the market" - it just wasn't the sort of thing we wanted to spend our time on, or it required reproducing the same thing over and over for the masses when we only wanted to do it once and move on to something else - every effort a one-of-kind. We both found some solace in experienced artists who said basically what Louis says here - stay true to yourself or even some level of success will leave you empty and unhappy. I find it interesting that he also addresses the idea of being "liked by more people than should like you." There's a pressure to success, to keep giving what appeared to be liked at last - I've felt it. And the worry that if I deviate from what people have come to expect from me, they will be disappointed and turn away. Those thoughts crept in as recently as my entries in ArtWalk. I shooed them away as best I could with a "too bad for them, this is what I'm doing right now and I'm happy and fulfilled with it" pep talk. Lucky for me I don't have to depend on art sales for my livelihood. But even so, with no monetary pressure, it is easy to fall into this trap of creating to please an audience, or perhaps to get a reaction. What about you? Does any of this resonate with you?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Progress and a Ponder

Gosh, I've been having the best time in the studio this week. Before tackling the cleaning of the work table, I rummaged around my various stashes for a suitable backing for the Sea and Sand quilt. And look what I found lurking in my batiks! I needed at least a yard and a half of a full 44 inch wide fabric (to keep from having to seam two pieces together) and by some miracle, I had purchased 2 yards of this. I'd noted the price and where I'd bought it on the selvage - $6.98 a yard at a quilt shop here in my little town, one that was a favorite because they carried not only contemporary fabrics, but also beads and yarns. Unfortunately, it went out of business a few years after I discovered it. But their beautiful fabrics live on in my stash!

Next up - clearing off that work table. I quickly realized I did not have to get everything off it. About a third still has its piles mostly untouched, but the rest has been put away or at least moved out of the way into the closet. Going through what was there was a bit like an archeological dig, some bits puzzling (what in the heck project is this from?) some surprising (this is from last year, or maybe older?), some memory jogging (oh yeah, I left this out because I thought I could . . .). Lastly, the hunt for an appropriate batting in the proper size. It's been so long since I've had to check my supply of anything save Thermore that I wasn't sure I had what I needed. In fact, I must have stocked up during a sale because I have several untouched queen or king size batts, several "craft" or "crib" sizes and lots of partials - all in a variety of fiber combinations. I always hate cutting a chunk out of a big batt - just the logistics of it; it's actually very cost effective to buy the biggest batt rather than buying smaller sizes to come closest to the exact size you need. Look at this - I had a piece of Hobbs 80/20 that was just (and I DO mean just) the right width and not too much extra in the length. Everything got smoothed into place without a hitch, and I was ready to start pinning.

And it was a little past lunchtime so I meant to take a break. But that empty design wall and the pieces for the next quilt beckoned. Oh, just put up the sashing strips (which I'd kept in order - probably makes no difference but I thought maybe the pattern across the fabric might be discernible if I did). Oh, and what if I place rectangles between two sashings, just to get a feel for how the colors might be arranged. Then it was, I think I need to put them up in each row across where they will fall to get a better idea. And by then, I couldn't pull myself away until all the rectangles were in place. Look at my bright beautiful quilt top! Because my fabrics and colors are so different from the ones in the pattern I'm following, mine has a very different feel but I am loving it. (And so what if lunch was REALLY late that day.)

That picture is a bit deceptive though. I didn't bother to put up those tiny 1 x 2-1/2 inch pieces that act as sashing or spacers between the top and bottom of each rectangle. They go in no particular order and I have them stacked and ready to go so I can do a bit of chain stitching when I start sewing the top together. Here I've placed a few so you can get an idea of how they will slightly change the look. Oooo, I am excited! (Can you tell I'm feeling better?)

Excited too about Sea and Sand being on the verge of ready to quilt. As you can see in the top photo, pins are in and ready to be closed, then I'll hand baste around the edge of the top. I may do some marking of the quilting, but I'll be doing some stabilizing stitching in the ditch first - thread all picked out. However, something tells me that this second quilt might just get sewn together first.

Oh, and here's the ponder, a 1982 quotation from the ever irreverent but often spot on comedian George Carlin. Kinda fits my mood these days and certainly mirrors my feelings about the world we've been living in where it is all about tying your worth to how much you can produce in the shortest amount of time at the most profit. Taking a breather is not lost time.

It’s the American view that everything has to keep climbing: productivity, profits, even comedy. No time for reflection. No time to contract before another expansion. No time to grow up. No time to fuck up. No time to learn from your mistakes. But that notion goes against nature, which is cyclical. And I hope I’m now beginning a new cycle of energy and creativity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Little Art, A Little Craft

Let's start with the craft. One of the things I did last week as I was recuperating was finish up this neck warmer . . . just in time for summer! I stalled out on it months ago when there was only a few inches left to go. I knew I'd be facing an edge finish I'd not done before (I-cord which also made the buttonhole loops) and although the variation on a cable stitch was not hard, it required a bit more attention than the pattern stitch on the preceding earwarmers. I was struggling with new meds and syndrome flares for several months over the winter and I'm thinking that I just sighed with fatigue any time I thought of picking it up.

But it is done now, with buttons added that I wish I could remember their original purpose, ones I salvaged when whatever garment they'd been added to was no longer wearable. They live again to please me whenever I button up this soft and warm alpaca yarn wrap.

As for the art part, I've been meaning to share a post found on the blog Paperiaarre. A friend who knew I had an interest in bookbinding pointed me to Kaija's blog knowing I would appreciate the masterful and interesting bookbinding there. But Kaija also does the most fascinating multi-media pieces, some quite tiny, all immaculately executed. I have mixed emotions about mixed media in general, often feeling like I'm looking at hodgepodges thrown together with not much rhyme or reason. Kaija's work appeals and fascinates because it is evident she has spent much time gathering just the right things to put together, using old photographs, text cut from books, vintage beads, lace and buttons, and more. Like me, maybe even more so than me, she is an artist for whom attention to detail is paramount, and her work never looks cluttered. This particular "Mixed Media Monday" post will give you a feel for her work, and features a piece I just love for its simplicity and invitation to let your imagination wander. Such a perfect match of photo and text in "Your Favourite Delight."

To view more of this Finnish artist's work, check out her Etsy Shop.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Back To Work. . .

. . . and cutting has resumed! Am feeling pretty chipper finally and ready to get going on the baby quilts again. I've cut out all the pieces for the second one, except the pattern says a few more rectangles will be needed once I arrange colors on the design wall. But at the moment, the "Sea and Sand" quilt top is on the wall waiting for me to clear the table so I can layer it and baste it for quilting. Details details!

I'm using a pattern from New Zealand Quilter called "Modern Tiles" although I'll have a different name figured out for my version. I liked the way the quilt gave a feeling movement that was almost like water. My fabric for the sashings and borders is a fun undersea pattern of fish, coral, and other such marine life so this seemed a perfect fit, and again I would not be spending time designing and figuring out dimensions. It's so straight forward, with sashings and borders cut at 1-1/2 inches and the rectangles at 2-1/2 x 4-1/2. Then I spotted the instructions for cutting ninety-nine 1" x 2-1/2 inch pieces. And here I thought this wouldn't get fussy! Well, they are all cut, as well as the sashings and border strips, and I am ready to start shuffling things around so it can go up on the wall and the other top can come down.

Did I mention that the baby this is for arrived? Molly is her name and she arrived safely on June 9th. Better get crackin'!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

My Little Corner of ArtWalk

Time to get out the splashy party shoes - POAC'S annual ArtWalk kicked off last night!

Somewhere between printing the brochure and hanging the work at Columbia Bank, I got shifted from the second floor to the main floor. Actually kind of nice as it put me right in the middle of the other textile artists

Third Mondays art group member Cheryl was at one end . . .

. . . and another art group member Meg at the other. Look what has happened to her amazing tree! While I recovered enough from my bout with a virus to attend the reception, Meg had just come down with a cold and decided to stay home and keep it to herself. I wish she could have seen the reactions to her tree. Well, I'll be passing some of that along.

Peeking around the water feature to see where the action was

This actually wasn't a prime spot, being located behind the water feature and elevator. Most people took the stairs at the opposite end straight up to the second floor and its food and wine, then gravitated up to the third floor. My work was hung near the food table at the last exhibit and frankly, I didn't mind the quieter space this time, where I could pull up a chair, and have conversations that could be heard without raising my voice over the socializing crowds. And we were also on the way to the restrooms, so between that and the elevator, we did get some traffic! After the initial first hour rush, I wandered up to the second floor hoping to capture a picture of the fabulous food as well as a bite or two to take back with me but it had all been scarfed up!

As I anticipated, my three pieces looked pretty good grouped together. I always find it interesting to see which piece most people gravitate towards, and especially which seem to appeal most to the men. There's always at least a few guys that look like they've been dragged there by their wives and really aren't too interested in viewing the art; when there's a response from one of them, it's particularly rewarding. "Eisenberg Fountain - Retreat" got more interest and comments than I thought it would, and just like the full-size version, it particularly seemed to appeal to men. One women elaborated on what she liked - its abstract nature, asymmetry and precision in execution (oh be still my heart!). I don't know if she recognized it for what it was, but as in all art, it hardly matters. She LIKED it. "Rift" got nearly as much attention but fewer comments, just long leaned-in looks, often with finger to lip, and occasionally an indication of really liking it too. I suspect the rapt study was trying to figure out what that thing was in there - at least one person inquired about the painted and distressed piece of tyvek. "Family" also got attention, and a few smiles. Renaming it was apparently the right thing to do; one woman pointed at the partial circle on the right and laughed, saying "Oh, there's always an odd one out in a family!" Which is always what I saw in that circle too - old Uncle Bob that we all tolerate and wish he'd stop telling bad jokes. And then there was the young man who came rushing off the elevator, pointing a finger repeatedly at "Family" as he breezed on by. Yeah, I think that meant he liked it too.

I'll have to go back next week to get pictures of the art on the other floors. In the meantime, here are the rest of Cheryl's art quilts in our little corner of ArtWalk. They all feature her hand-dyed and/or hand-marbled fabrics.

Beautiful Garden by Cheryl Lipari

Glamour Girl by Cheryl Lipari

Marbled Leaves by Cheryl Lipari

Fluttering Ferns by Cheryl Lipari


Friday, June 17, 2016

ArtWalk 2016

Opening receptions for Pend Oreille Arts Council's 2016 ArtWalk are this evening, June 17, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. My work is at the Columbia Bank building once again, number 2 on the map below. I have just the three small pieces this year, and you can find them on the second main floor. ArtWalk runs through September 8th, so if you can't make the reception, you have plenty of time to catch the exhibits throughout the summer.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Neighborhood Park

The doc said to take it easy this week (no heavy housework or even laundry - what a pity!) but it would be ok to try a short walk around the block. I gave it a go yesterday when the sun came out, a slow amble to relish the clean fresh air and warm rays on my back. I yearned to continue over to the small park that's been developing over the last couple of years, just to sit and enjoy the view, but that would have definitely been more than around the block and I could feel I didn't have it in me yet. But I'd taken pictures of the park a few weeks ago so what better time to share them with you than this?

I don't know who this McNearney is that the park and adjacent street are named after, but I do know that he donated the land that made it possible for the new animal shelter to be built. The rest of the block behind the shelter had gone undeveloped, just an uneven weedy swath waiting for something. I noted that the kids were riding their bikes at the end closest to the street where I walked, not sure if someone had officially turned this corner into a track or the kids had just taken advantage of the natural terrain.

The next bit of improvement I noticed was that the cross street that ended at the other end of this lot was extended out to McNearney Street, then paved and curbed. Looked all in the world to me like someone was about to develop the land with housing, except the curbing had no dips for driveways. A few months later, trees appeared along the street and I was still thinking this must be for more housing. Guess they'll have to rework those curbs...

Eventually, I noted areas that had been leveled, cleared and seeded, and a few things like this fencing popping up. Could this be a park? I could scarce believe it. Eventually I caught up with someone doing some work there who confirmed that yes, this land had been donated to the City of Ponderay for a park, and it was slowly coming together.

And it has been slow, the additions of landscaping and typical park amenities popping up one by one over last summer. So surprised by the blue bench and water fountain.

On the end opposite the bike pump track, this play area for the little kids slowly came into being. Picnic tables were recently added and I've seen families stopping by to eat their take-out and watch their little ones play. Build it and they will come.

There's a path that cuts along this end of the park, back along a line of cottonwood trees, eventually looping around another bike area and along the back side of the park.

As it loops back toward the play area, it skirts a practice area for kids just learning how to maneuver through a pump track.

There's this lovely stone area I suspect for parents to watch their kids as they work through the practice area. It almost looks like a small stage which makes me wonder if the designers of the park had that in mind.

From this angle I can get a good shot of the blue bench, this time with blue trash receptacle. I'm so intrigued by that blue! I want to sketch this but will have to do it standing or sitting on the ground - no seating available to capture this view.

Here's another view of that train engine in the play area. Kids can climb inside, through, over, while the dinosaur looks on. 

You may have noticed in an earlier picture that there is a rather high berm along the back of the park. Kids can ride their bikes up there too, with challenging ups and downs, no worry of adults shooing them away because they will ruin the hillside. No, this park was built for them.

Another recent and surprising addition (at least surprising to me), is this repair/service station. There's a pump for putting air in your tires and a collection of tools on a chain for tightening and adjusting and who knows what. More of that outstanding blue!

The park was officially dedicated earlier this year, and more and more signage has gone up, more landscaping put in place. Here's another view of the pump track.

And more of that wonderful old-fashioned zig-zag fencing. There's art inspiration there.

I've saved what I think is one of the best parts for last. This spring I noticed signs up at intervals along that path that loops along the back of the park. Encased in laminate, these are stories for young kids, but instead of sitting to read a book, the kids read a "page", answer questions posed at the bottom and follow instructions of how to proceed to the next "page". Even I found this fun to follow, and could just imagine how a group of young kids would respond, having at one point in my life been a library aide who read stories to groups of little ones. The stories change (I think about once a month or so) and there is a notebook at the end where you can record responses to the experience. Such a brilliant idea.

So what was once a weedy dirt heap is now blossoming into a beautiful little park that I look forward to looping through on my daily walks. Curious to know what other additions will pop up, and especially anxious for the trees to grow tall enough to start providing some shade.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On the Mend

Stamped page ready to tangle
Well, that was an interesting week. I think the virus has run its course, and I am mostly upright since the weekend, but still taking it easy as that really wiped me out. No sense rushing back into activity, not wanting to have a relapse, wanting to feel well enough to manage the ArtWalk opening reception on Friday (more on that later). There's plenty I can do sitting down and I did feel up to a little drawing yesterday afternoon. You may remember the small button booklet I've been working in on and off, where I stamped an image on each page and have been going back in to Zentangle around it. You're really not supposed to plan out your Zentangling in advance, but I at least need to be inspired and it took me a long time to come up with an idea to compliment that stamped leaf. But I had finally settled on something, before getting sick, and now I felt up to trying it out.

Finished tangle, colors truer than top photo

I enjoy developing little vignettes with the tangling, and although that wasn't where I thought I'd go with this, it became more fun when I realized I was creating a little landscape of sorts. Some parts are more successful than others, but it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour and get those creative juices flowing again. The most delightful part was how well the fountain pen worked on this paper. I had struggled with it on the official Zentangle tile and feared the ink looked more black than brown. However, on this paper the pen flowed effortlessly without skipping and the color of the ink matched the pad ink used to stamp the leaf on the page. A little thrilled by this.

Thanks to everyone who left messages of concern and get better quick wishes. They truly buoyed me up and gave me something to smile about when I was feeling so very rotten. Love you all . . . 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Sick Leave

Just as well I didn't have the extra week for ArtWalk prep - so far I've spent it mostly in bed with a high fever. Doc thinks it's viral so nothing to do but let it run its course. Explains a lot about how I felt last week and over the weekend. At any rate, it's been lots of sleep, tea and toast, and catching up on recorded tv shows when I've been up to being a bit more upright. Feeling a little better today but the fever persists, so it's back to bed for me.

In the meantime since I won't be having anything interesting to say or show for at least a few more days, go check out this blog post by Elizabeth Barton. It's an interesting read, or so it seemed to my fevered brain this morning. . .

Monday, June 06, 2016


I could feel myself on the verge of spin cycle over getting my ArtWalk stuff together over the weekend. I should do this first, no this. Maybe start on that 4th piece. No, take care of this. Then I realized, just start with the easy stuff first. That would be printing out the contract and inventory sheet. POAC used to send out hardcopies through the mail, and I must admit to mixed feelings about the move to digital files attached to e-mails. I understand it is a cost-cutting measure, and POAC does have a very tight budget. But I do resent just a teeny bit having to use my own ink and paper.

Rift by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2016 11 x 14

Next, get Rift into its frame, since it was already mounted in a mat. I bought these Nielson Artcare metal frames because they have UV glass and archival mat board and mount board. I'm not using their mat, but I did think the mount board liner made sense. Of course, I had to clean numerous times to get the last of the dust specs off the inside of the glass. But I really like the way this looks.

Rift and Family (©2014) by Sheila Mahanke Barnes

Then it was time to dust off the piece from 2014 and make a few changes. I don't think I've ever done this before, but I was never comfortable with the name I gave the piece on the right. Something about it always said "family" to me but my lack of confidence convinced me that name would only make people scratch their heads. Rolling Along was what I ended up calling it and it has never felt right. It's been sitting in my living room for months now, long enough for me to hear it begging me to change its name. So I did. Took off the backing, blacked out the name and wrote"Family" in its place. I think these two pair nicely.

That was enough for Friday. Saturday I tackled getting the fountain sample into a frame. I'd bought some black foam core board not long ago specifically for this, to replace the very poor and flimsy piece of cardboard backing that came with the frame. And now I couldn't find it. Seriously, how can one misplace a 20 x 30 piece of black board? Ah - by placing it on the door side of the closet rather than the back wall of it. Clever me. I usually struggle with cutting foam core (it really shouldn't be that hard - I even bought an Exacto cutter specifically for this task) but this time it cut with ease. I forgot to get a picture of the back before mounting on the board, but generally what I do is lightly glue in a few places the piece to watercolor paper for support, running a long stitch around the outside. I write all the label info on this paper backing before putting it into the frame and adding the frame back. 

In this case I'd used some vellum drawing paper, because I didn't have to cut it to size. Later I realized it didn't have the same stiffness so I pinned it to the foamcore board in a few places. That's a sequin pin. This bit of security should keep the piece from sagging from the weight of the fountain. There's no glass in this frame.

This is how I deal with the requirement to put more personal information than I normally would on the back of my art when it goes into a POAC exhibit. I simply attach a business card and write the name and price of the piece on it.

I decided to add rings and wire which turned out to be the hardest part. The wood in this frame is very dense and hard and I had a heck of a time getting the screws in. But having a wire rather than one of the sawtooth hangers will please the people hanging the exhibit.

Eisenberg Fountain - Retreat by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2016 11 x 14

So pleased with how this looks! And now my three pieces are exhibit ready!

I had planned to work on a 4th piece yesterday - but I didn't feel well at all and was running a fever. To be honest, I hadn't felt well all week and it must have caught up with me over the weekend. So no 4th piece for ArtWalk. And I am fine with that. Today I filled out that paperwork and will deliver it all tomorrow.