Recycled Two

March 22, 2015

One of the art groups I belong to, California Fibers, is participating in a recycled fibers show called Diverted Destruction 8 at The Loft at Liz’s, where we were asked to used recycled materials to make our art. The group has a wide variety of fiber artists, from weavers and quilters to basketmakers and sculptors and dyers to painters and embroiderers. Some defy description.

I’m a quilter though. Really. I do a bunch of different things, but mostly I quilt. So I approached this exhibit with the idea of using different materials to do the same type of quilt I normally make…the challenge being in the materials. The first one is done and photographed (supposed to hold off on putting the final on here) and was made largely of upholstery fabrics from a sample book, not something that was foreign to me due to years of crazy quilting and starting out with some very different types of quilting in the early days, but certainly not how I usually approach the fabrics in my quilts. In fact, some of my quilts have satin, lame, and sequin fabrics in them, all of which were their own special challenge.

The second quilt I didn’t want to do in the same types of fabrics, so when over Winter Break a quilting friend called to say she was getting rid of her excess fabric (wait, what is that?) and did I want any of it, hell, I jumped on that. Mariah’s a mostly traditional quilter, using lots of batiks and fun prints to make some pretty gorgeous quilts. She has good color sense, and batiks have always been my favorite as well, and because I often deal with some awfully small pieces, the off-cuts from her traditional quilts actually come in useful. I brought home two or three bagsful…

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and it’s taken me three months to sort through them into color piles

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and then into bins where all the likes were together. I suck at filing; what can I say?

This afternoon, I grabbed the blacks, whites, and yellows, and sorted their asses…

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Then got all of it in the same room…

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It looks like a lot, but it’s hard with all the prints and colors, which won’t necessarily flow together, to see coherence at this point. Obviously, I’m not going to use all of these. Honestly, I’ll probably use maybe 20-30 of them. Then the rest will go into my stash and people will walk up to my quilts and go, “Oh hey, didn’t I give you that fabric?” Happens all the time.

Mariah had lots of owls…

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Then there was this pile…

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She had a lot of partially finished blocks or trims from piecing, and I just took them because I thought I could use them somehow. I personally hate piecing, so I’m glad to let others do it.

There were these two chunks that I put together, trying to visualize a background…

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Although I think it might be too busy. But maybe…maybe this is Mariah’s quilt and the background should be busy. She’s a young mom of two…that’s what your life is really like…and then the main figure can sit on top of that. It will be difficult to make the coloring work, but let’s say I have 25 years of experience and I can make it work.

Maybe. Here are some more of the pieced bits…one whole block…

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Some more pieces of strips…there’s one pile in the middle of pieces that could make another part of the background. Maybe. She tends toward blues and browns. They’re all in that range.

But then she has this skinny strip of pieced triangles…I like it as a border maybe or a base for the figure.

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although they are a completely different color range. Things to consider. Obviously I’m not making decisions about those tonight, because it’s time to make dinner. I too am a mom with many distracting things in the background of my art self. More later…but this one is definitely coming into existence this week…whether I like it or not.

A Saturday Suddenly Free…Sort of…

March 21, 2015

Well, I was supposed to be leaving for a soccer tournament any minute now, but girlchild is too sick to play, or even to get out of bed, so I guess I am the lucky one who gets to stay home with her. She’s asleep still, so it’s pretty easy, but last night’s whining and nose-blowing drove me out of the living room, so then she started texting me things like “MOOOMMMYYY.” Yup. She’s 17. Anyway, I was planning on getting a bunch of grading done on the soccer field, so I will probably still try to do some of that, and certainly I was going to stitch on birds, but I think I’d rather do some yardwork (seriously, it’s getting that bad), since it’s currently kind of cool in temperature out there. Yes, I realize there’s still snow everywhere else, as boychild reminded me, but we’ve been in the 80s on and off all week, so it is Spring and the plants are going bonkers. But it’s like I suddenly got a free day, a Saturday without any preplanned stuff, except that I am so capable of filling it almost immediately.

Yes, I will do art as well. Don’t panic. In fact, I finished the bathtub drawing last night…

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This one’s all about menopause.

Here’s the first one I did, which still needs a head (ran out of paper)…

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Perhaps it needs two heads. I kinda like no head on the one in the water…It’s a little disturbing.

Then I did this one…which honestly is the one I think for sure needs to become a quilt…

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Wait. Except that’s not done. Turns out about 6 weeks later, I added stuff…

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Because it’s not just about what’s in the bathtub…it’s about what surrounds the bathtub too. I still have ideas for this. I like the parts that are submerged and slightly showing, like the fingers and toes. And not knowing what’s under the water. And I just thought of something to add to the one I finished last night too! Anyway. It’s all distracting me from what I really need to be working on (but that’s not a bad thing…a little distraction like this is beneficial to the artmaking process).

Last night, I sorted the browns for the recycled quilt…

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There’s a lot of them, which is good. Funny…Mariah tends towards mostly browns and blues, like my daughter. We’ll have to see if the quilt tends that way too. It might have to.

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I also sorted the grays, which took like 13 seconds and I didn’t even photograph, because she only had like 5 of them. I have yellows and blacks and a pile of owl fabrics that don’t fit in any specific colorway. So I could stop procrastinating and pick those fabrics for that quilt today. It’s small. It won’t take long. (trying to persuade myself…it’s gonna be a challenge to only be able to use what’s in the box.)

And then I spent over two hours cutting tiny pieces out…

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At some point, I had to stop and do arm and finger exercises, because they were cramping, and the muscles in my forearm were definitely sore after Thursday night’s cutting session. I’ve actually woken up with a swollen hand before. It feels OK today though, probably because of the exercises. We did figure out that the elbow pain from the Fall is not from weightlifting…it’s from moving the quilt under the sewing machine. So I have to wear an elbow brace while sewing. It’s an extreme sport, people. An extreme sport. The pile on the left is cut out. Trash is in the middle. So colorful. Still to be cut out is on the right. I’m over 4 hours in…still thinking 12 hours total, but maybe not? I don’t know. I get distracted and have to take a technology break, check Instagram to let my brain recover from staring at pencil lines on Wonder Under. That’s part of the task time too…persuading the brain not to give up.

OK. Girlchild is awake. Not happy about it, but being upright when you can’t breathe due to snottiness is better than lying down. Gonna get some work done, whatever that consists of…garden, house, school, art. Hoping for some recharging time later…

Why I Need a Robot

March 20, 2015

So. The good news is that the girlchild doesn’t have strep, her face has stopped swelling up like a balloon, the cat is back home and feisty about her meds (might be worms), and I actually had dinner before 9 PM last night. I really need a wife. Seriously. A MadMen wife who has dinner on the table when I get home and has done all the laundry and cleaned the house. Except I know that’s totally sexist. OK, I need a robot wife. Totally. I do. Right now, she’s making my breakfast AND my lunch and she made a nice little surprise dessert for me and is hiding it in my lunchbag, because she knows yesterday was a clusterfuck even though all ended well (OK, except for some seriously tiring and frustrating moments with teens, not all of them mine). Is that a bad thing to wish for?

At some point yesterday night, I started cutting out pieces for the Ventura quilt, but I was sitting there in my office, because I couldn’t sit on the couch, because there was a dead body in there (girlchild didn’t leave until after 8), and I was getting crankier and crankier, feeling absolutely disconnected from humanity and frustrated with my existence and my inability to get truly healthy, let alone to the gym like I was supposed to yesterday (ha! at the vet until 7:30 PM) and wondering how to change all that shit, because someone said something about the evening getting better than the day (well, the NIGHT at that point, because I spent the evening at the vet and well into the night in a texting argument with the girlchild that I kept trying to get out of because there was no point), and I thought…well how the fuck is the evening supposed to get better? Because I’m cutting out 900 tiny pieces of fabric? Because I’m watching TV by myself while cutting out 900 pieces of fabric? I mean, yes, it’s relaxing on some level, it’s very meditative, cutting those beasties out, running the scissors along, considering as I cut, what is the most efficient way to cut this tiny piece out or do I want to wait until I’m ironing so I don’t lose it and where are my tiny sharp scissors and maybe I should take that JoAnns coupon and buy me some better scissors (there are a LOT of things that run through my head when I’m making stuff…it’s like Babble City). What WOULD make it better? Ice cream. Cheesecake. Nope, both unnecessary and fattening. A visit from Santa Claus? Eh. A robot cleaning my house? Yeah. THAT would make it better. How about someone sitting next to me and having a conversation and not yelling at me for being stupid or insensitive (I am mostly not either of those things) or complaining or whatever. And joking about whatever we were watching. Or commiserating. Yup. That would have made it better. I need a robot that can do that. And maybe give me a backrub while it’s sitting there. I get a little of that (the connection part…not the backrubs), but not enough apparently to recharge my depleted personal batteries at the moment.

As it was, I was relieved to have everyone more well than I had thought they were in the morning. And then I stopped cutting and got my sketchbook…and the other bathtub drawing that I tried here…

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I stared at it for a bit, and then I sat there and drew most of a new one last night…

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It’s not done. It needs animals. And maybe a robot! But I got the hands and legs where I wanted them. And it was finer than the other one. And the whole bathtub got in the picture. Yeah. It was really a relief to draw it. It’s been in my head for weeks. There’s another one too. But I don’t know when I’ll be able to draw that one. It’s big.

Before I did all that, while dinner was cooking and girlchild was yelling, I sorted more recycled fabrics from Mariah…the oranges…

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And then the reds…

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Which included one of my favorites…

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I’ve never had the one with the hearts though. I’ll have to find a way to use that in the recycled quilt. Or something.

All folded up and ready to be in the next quilt…

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I’m keeping them separate from the rest of my stash right now, so I can make the quilt from them. Then they’ll go play with the others. It really is a random bunch. I still have browns and blacks to sort…and a few yellows. And I never finished the blues.

Then I settled down and cut out little tiny pieces of Ventura for about two hours…

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Cut out pieces on the left, trash in the middle, pieces left to cut on the right. It’s gonna be a while.

But I got started. And I’ll try to draw more tonight, to finish up that bathtub…and someday, maybe I’ll have enough of the required shit out of the way so I can start MAKING the bathtub series (ha!). And a robot to clean the bathtub…that would also be good. Actually, enough money to rip out one of the bathrooms and redo it with a NICE bathtub, because ours suck and I miss having baths (they are very relaxing), so that robot needs to come with a trust fund and a remodeling routine. Yup. Robots. That’s the solution.

Dropping Balls…

March 19, 2015

What I woke up to (after someone shoved my sticky door open, making a horrible noise and giving me an adrenaline rush that made it impossible to go back to sleep): girlchild has been sick. Apparently that sick included a sore throat (a fact she did not share with me yesterday), which partially explains her swollen face and neck at 11 PM last night when she went to bed. Her dad is on doctor duty, once he finds her insurance card (minor issue). I think it’s strep. Yay! The elderly cat, who is decidedly not elderly when she wants to bitchslap a younger cat who might be in her territory, is apparently bleeding intestinally, and insists on walking around the house, dripping blood everywhere. I can’t get a sub this late. I’m hoping my mom can handle the cat. But who knows?

I’m personally praying to the Goddess of the Mother to keep me from strep, because I don’t have the time or energy for that shit right now.

SIGH. My students told me yesterday that all of us teachers were cranky and had no senses of humor at the moment. I refrained from telling them how close we are to Spring Break, because if I admit that it’s a week and a half away to THEM, they will stop working completely. As it is, I still have about 80% of them on task…for now. They’re right, though. I am cranky. I’m not getting recharged. I’m feeling distant and disconnected from everything and whether there’s hormones involved or not, it’s just fucking with me. I think I need a massage in a hot tub. With cheesecake.

I should be ecstatic somewhere in my head. Why? I finished ironing last night. Whoo! (OK, that was a faked WHOO, but if you fake it, apparently you can make it. I don’t actually believe that, because it’s never worked for me.). And I guess I am somewhat relieved…maybe.

Last night, I ironed a bunch of leaves and grass and blue hair (her hair is the water) and these are the jellyfish parts…

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And I also did goldfish and the sun…

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Those are sun parts. I used oranges for the goldfish.

It got later and later and I got more tired and I kept thinking, “Really, you should be grading. Why are you being so irresponsible?” Fuck that shit. Iron away baby. By the end of the evening, this is what the fabric pile looked like…

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I don’t keep them all neat while I’m working…I just clean it up each night so I can see it all again. While I’m working, I pile. But there’s more yellows in there and obviously the blues are there and I had to add another orange friend (it’s not really orange…it just has a lot of orange in it), plus some purple for the jellyfish, and some pinks for the shell that’s in there, and I don’t remember what else…oh, more green. Because there’s never enough fucking green.

SIGH. It’s done. It took 13 1/2 hours, much longer than I thought it would. I don’t know why. Whatever.

It also took 103 fabrics…

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Which is a lot. Looks very colorful…not sure what it will look like in real life. The larger pieces are more toned down…well, mostly.

And here’s my next task (minus the doctor thing and the vet thing and the sore throat/bloody anus thing, and then there’s the pool motor, which yeah, I don’t know, I’m just running water in there and praying)…cutting all of them out.

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That’s probably another 11 hours or so. Twelve? Fuck, why do I even estimate? No, seriously. Probably twelve. I’ll commit to that. If I do two hours a night (ha!), that’ll be 6 days. Except I won’t do that every night. But I only need it done by a week from Saturday. Earlier is fine. Then I can do the other recycled one. Then my first task of Spring Break (besides cleaning house and trimming the damn bougainvillea and finding some semblance of my happy) will be to iron it all together, so when my sewing machine gets out of its annual cleaning appointment, I can start stitching it down.

SIGH. I know. I said that already. In 18 minutes, I can start calling doctor, vet, and mom. Oh yeah, and going to work. At the same time. I’m sure there’s some ball I’m dropping today. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m fairly sure I dropped it.

A Sliver of a Place…

March 18, 2015

Eleven hours plus…I really wanted to just throw sleep to the wind last night, ignore the fact that my job requires you to be ON at all times and being asleep is not an option, and finish ironing. I am that close. Maybe another hour or so. But I was tired. Huh. Stupid body. What do you mean, you want to sleep? You suck at it. Yes, practice makes perfect, but you’ve been attempting this for 48 years now and obviously you just don’t have a talent for it (seriously, as a kid, I didn’t sleep well either). Just give it up.

Mom brain realizes it’s only Tuesday and I have to survive three more days of school, and lack of sleep makes me cranky, and I’m already cranky with the kids because they think grades are magical things that I bestow upon them, and if they have an F, it’s because I did not bestow upon them something better. It’s never that they just didn’t do the work. It’s on me.

So that was part of the frustration of yesterday that dragged me home behind my car and made me too tired to stand at around 11 PM.

OK, yes, I know. Many people go to bed WELL before 11 PM. It’s a perfectly reasonable bedtime. But when you know you could finish the monster task you’re on by 1 AM? Sigh. Well, obviously I was tired. Annoyingly, I’m still tired this morning, even though I have an extra hour of sleep under my belt. Hopefully I’ll finish tonight (the ironing. Not the sleep).

Last night, I ironed a fox and some thorns and some clouds and lightning. Honestly, it wasn’t much. I added some browns for variety…

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There’s some orangey browns for the fox too. But everything else was already in the boxes. The browns on the left, I didn’t put them away because I need them to hold up against the greens I haven’t yet picked for the leaves that grow on the brown branches (hello convoluted sentence). That’s where my brain balked, because I have multiple overlapping leaves, so I will need a run of greens and I was just too tired to contemplate it. It’s probably a good idea I didn’t, because my brain is sort of offline at the moment. Or there’s too many things in it. Hard to say which. Needless to say, I have a cut on my finger from cooking brainless last night, I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered, and my eyes are still at half mast.

It’s no fun to be annoyed by one’s own existence. I need to clean house, trim the bougainvillea so people can park in the driveway, clean up around the pool, fix the kitchen window screen, cut a piece of glass, buy a frame, hang some art, clean up, put the suitcase in the garage, dammit. How hard is that? The answer is that it all seems to take up so much time and I only have a few things I want to spend time on at the moment, and none of them involves a mop or clippers.

I’m in the 700s, smack dab in the middle of them…

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Although there are some 600s shoved off to the side…mostly roots and grassy bits that I haven’t dealt with yet, and then all the leaves, I think. Then all the big stuff on the bottom is up in her hair…so yeah, I am nearly done. It’s hair and some facial details (lips, eyes) that are not flesh tones, and then the sun on her head and that’s it.

Dammit. Why didn’t I just finish it off last night (you were too tired). Fucking limited hours in the day.

Ah yes. I’m in a mood. An artistic mood. One that tromps all over all the other moods. Except they’re still there. I’m still fighting that low-level depression that messes with sleep and happiness and contentment. I think one of the things that makes me keep creating is that I’m never satisfied…that when I finish one, it’s not enough. It doesn’t fill up an empty inside me, so I have to make another one. No, that wasn’t The One…and there will never be a The One, guys…I know that…there will never be A Piece that makes me think, OH! That was it. You don’t have to make any more art. You’re done. You did it. That was The One. Fuck that. I keep making because it’s NOT the one. Because there’s still something to be said. Because I couldn’t put it all in one piece. Because that one said This and I still need to say That.

AARGH. It was a frustrating day yesterday and I’m still carrying all that inside me. Maybe if I’d stayed up and not slept and finished, it would be OK. Or maybe I would still be frustrated. And fucking tired. Wait. I am tired.

Here’s the bin of stuff to be cut out…it’s going to be very exciting over the next week watching that pile get smaller and smaller…

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OK. Not really. I mean it’s slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, and sure, I get through a ton of stuff on my Tivo, but it’s not thrilling to watch or write about. But then the FOLLOWING week, I’ll be ironing it together, and that surely IS exciting. Plus it will be Spring Break, and Goddess knows I need that at the moment, even if it will be hours and hours of no one being around. There is no making my brain happy. Make art, which mostly has to happen in this solitary place, but you still need people…but not the ones that cause drama and scream at you. There’s a sliver of a place in there where I can exist and be content…if my brain lets me.

Never Really Done…

March 17, 2015

Sometimes I can be really damn efficient…like when I’m not sick and when a bunch of drama isn’t stalking me (have I mentioned that colleges have started notifying and the girlchild is a mess?). Yesterday was in fact one of those days. I picked up my quilt from the photographer after a science meeting, came home and graded an entire stack of crap, made dinner from scratch, exercised, and ironed for two hours. Well done, woman, well done.

I’m 9 1/2 hours in…so this sucker is taking much longer than I thought it would. I was obviously dreaming things though, because the last big quilt had about the same number of pieces and it took 12 hours to iron to fabrics…and I’m guessing that’s how long this one will take as well.

I ironed some sunflowers and this is a snake…

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My snakes are usually green…I’m not sure why, seeing as how all the snakes locally are mostly shades of brown. That wouldn’t have worked on this quilt, though, because the snake goes all the way across her chest (not political or violent!) and crosses a wide variety of leaves, branches, a cat, and a heart…so it had to contrast with all that (and it does…surely it does). I always think of this kids’ book that is somewhere in the house (OK, I just googled “kid book snake turns yellow to green” and got the title)…Verdi.


Verdi is a python who doesn’t want to be green (young pythons are yellow). ANYWAY. Know that I am always thinking of that snake when I put them in quilts, apparently…or at least his coloring.

I ironed a bird next…more feathers…

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I decided to keep it in the brown range, because it sits behind and under a bunch of stuff, and I didn’t want it to overwhelm…although that beak is a bit bright! I was having some major orange issues last night. It took 20 minutes to deal with orange and try to find something that would work. I don’t know why. My orange drawer is really unsatisfying at the moment. Designers go through different color stages. I got some really good yellows and off-whites last time, but the orange drawer needs help.

After that, I ironed a cat and a heart, but I didn’t photograph them. I wasn’t going to go that far, but it was just a few more pieces! Really! (Now you know how I stay up so late.) I finished the 500s and laid out the 600s, so I have a little less than 300 pieces to go…well over halfway, which is good.

Here’s everything I’ve used so far…

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I added a lot of off-whites, browns, a few greens and yellows, some orange last night. I do reuse colors throughout the quilt, so one of the reds from elsewhere was used in the heart, and two of the browns from the ground were used in the bird. The cat’s eyes came from the acacia trees in the elephant section. Simple stuff like that. It’s a lot of fabrics though…and notice, I’ve added almost no blue…just the gray blue in the heron. No worries…the hair is the ocean, so there will be bright turquoises up there to support the water-loving animals. Really, I’ve finished most of the torso…I just have a little grassy knoll on her shoulder to do (grass and roots)…then we’re up in the hair. Hopefully I have some big enough gray/white pieces for the clouds. We’ll see.

Here’s the pile waiting to be cut out…

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The box is getting full. I might need to graduate into a bigger box. I have quilt class Thursday, so I will definitely be cutting pieces out starting then. Wait. Apparently I don’t have quilt class Thursday. Huh. So much for that plan. I need to be done cutting by the end of next week. Cutting doesn’t take as much time as ironing. I lied. On the last quilt, it took 11 1/2 hours. So whatever. Marathon cutting sessions in my future. I have a soccer tournament this weekend. Maybe I can persuade girlchild to drive while I cut. Or I can sit in Starbucks and cut for hours in between games (can you say ugh?). I actually want to grade papers so I can have as little as possible to do over Spring Break. Of course, I always say that and it never really works out that way.

Progress…I’m getting there. Closer to done. For some definition of the word done, that is, because with art, I am never really done.

Ironing Like a Beast…

March 16, 2015

Sometimes stuff pisses me off.

I know you’re shocked by that.

But when it does, I do what my counselor always tells me: take care of yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Now with a normal female, that might mean a pedicure or shopping for a new skirt or chocolate. Eh. I make art. So when life conspired to punch me in the face yesterday, and I was sitting there, grading shit, still grading shit, always grading shit, hands shaking, so angry and upset and frustrated that I was about to cry, I took a deep breath, set a line for the end of the feeling and grading of shit, and decided to make art for most of last night.

Well, except, I also needed to sleep. So I did that too.

I kicked some ironing ass last night. But before I did, I started sorting all the recycled pieces from Mariah’s quilts for the second piece in Diverted Destruction 8, which opens June 27 in Los Angeles, by the way. I figure I’m going to need them grouped together instead of piled on the floor in the living room if I ever want to make a quilt out of them. Here’s pink sorted and purple piled…

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And here I am working on the green.

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Blue is mostly done. I did it while I had pneumonia. Sitting on the floor was doable then. So I have a few more colors to sort, and then I’m done with that. It’s overwhelming to sort these, so it’s better if I just do a little each day. I don’t have very much of most colors, so that makes it more difficult…lots of squares and triangles and strips…but that’s what this show is about. How do we take stuff that normally would get tossed out or put aside, and then turn it into art.

THEN I started ironing like a beast…this is all the flesh in the Ventura quilt…

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There isn’t much, because remember? No nudity, no politics, no violence. So she’s mostly covered. Her face and hands show, and her shoulders. And there’s bits of flesh showing behind things. But that’s it. So to iron the flesh colors, I had to pull pieces from the 300s, which is where I’m at, all the way through the 700s. So now I don’t know how far I am, except that I have 7 hours in. When did that happen?

And then I pulled fabrics for the great blue heron that makes up her left arm…

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Grays and blues, but the blue in the wings had to show up on the background, so that was a challenge. So now it has some purple in it. I’m OK with that. The idea of the heron will be there. And I picked some really interesting wing-feather fabric. Had to fussy cut the bits I wanted, because it goes all over the place into pink and I didn’t want that. Much. There’s some turquoise in there too. I left a little of that.

Anyway, so that got me to the end of the 300s, but half that wing was in the 400s (all the pieces from 435-485, basically…who numbered this thing?), so again, no idea how far along I am, but maybe have something over 500 pieces ironed? Maybe halfway? It doesn’t look like halfway, but what do I know? It must be halfway. I spent 2 1/2 hours ironing last night and then had a very hard time stopping. Made myself stop. Still tired this morning though…here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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You can see the fleshy run and the heron is all on the left. Next up is sunflowers I think…and then a cat? Or the heart. Not sure. Yes, she’s covered in plants and flowers, but there’s still a giant anatomical heart. This is all for a show where I have to jury in, by the way. So I might not get in. And I will only have one entry, because every single other piece I have has nudity, politics, or violence (or all three) in it. Sigh.

Here’s pieces ready to be cut out…filling up the box.

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Two weeks until Spring Break…and I’m still on schedule. Miraculous.

Here’s a chair that Kitten has destroyed…

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And now inhabits. I’m not fixing it until she’s gone. There’s no point, unless I use bulletproof fabric…and I’m not even sure that would stand up to Kitten claws.

Luckily, she leaves my fabric stash alone.


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