Proof of Recovery…

February 18, 2015

So there’s really only one way to prove I’m feeling better, that I’ve finally gotten over the nasty hump of this illness:

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Yup. Making art again. So even though I was still running a nasty fever Sunday night, even though I thought I was better Saturday, even though I spent most of yesterday wondering if I’d be well enough to go back to school today with only half a lung functioning (I’ve coughed up the other half…into the sink…I saw it), I am finally on the mend. I’m still coughing. I’m still not well. I’m still not completely physically back (there’s no way I’m hiking in the next week…I’m aiming for the gym on Saturday morning, and taking it easy), but I can stand to trace Wonder Under. So that’s where I’m at…and some angelic soul found me Season 5 of Walking Dead, the bits that aren’t on right now, so I’m watching that while tracing. I got in a good two hours tonight…not how I really wanted to spend the hours, but it will do.

I should have been grading papers. But I went to work today AND I graded for like 6 hours yesterday AND I spent an hour and a half tonight moving files around and sending them to my students, so I don’t feel bad. I worked more hours in the last two days than I got paid for, as usual. The universe owed me a couple of hours of artmaking. And now I feel better about progress on these quilts.

Kitten even came out and held down the paper for me…

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cuz that’s really helpful, Kitten. Really helpful. I had all three cats in the room at one point. Not bad.

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They weren’t easy pieces to trace…two hours to do just over 100 pieces…most of them flames and waves, very convoluted and complicated pieces. I do like me some flames and waves, that’s for sure.

Girlchild was allowed back on the field on Friday (long story…she’s a bit of a thug, apparently)…I think I was mostly conscious during that game…

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Tomorrow night is Senior Night, so her dad and I have to stand out on the field and listen to them read the statement I wrote (after the ex sent me a starter paragraph to destroy) about the girlchild…and she said I should make her cry. Unfortunately, it means I probably will too…dammit. It’s strange knowing it’s the LAST season…a relief in some ways, especially with high school soccer, which has just been an incredible trial to all of us. The coaching…the girls…it will be a relief, truly, to leave that behind. But realizing that next year at this time, she won’t even be around…that’s a little harder to stomach, and that’s what will make me cry out there, plus the part about how she refused to put her hair in a ponytail for the longest time, just cuz she was a stubborn little girl. Don’t know where she got that from.

So I guess with one day of actually feeling good, I’m a little crazy running a lab tomorrow (it’s an easy one) AND going to soccer afterwards…but it’s not like I have a choice. This is life and it keeps coming, and you can spend days and days in bed (I did), and life will still be there…and so will the art. My FFAC quilt made it to Florida and I received one from Jette Clover, which I am infinitely pleased with, and need to get a frame, so I can get it on the wall, along with a bunch of other art that just needs to get hung. I do feel bad that I kinda lost two three-day weekends to being ill, but so be it. Moving on. I received applause today from my classes for announcing that I refused to grade anything over my birthday weekend, so all their makeup work was due next Friday…I don’t know if they were applauding me for putting my foot down or for reaching another birthday…it’s hard to say. And most days, I can’t remember how old I am anyway…which is truly sad.

So back to our regularly scheduled art events…looking forward to making more. Which reminds me, sounds like I will have a show at Grossmont College with one other artist, a sculptor, in 2016…my first…um…it’s not a solo; is it a duet? Hard to say…so you locals will have to come to the opening and support me, because this is going to be kind of scary for me…I have no shortage of pieces to fill the space, of course. Someone asked me how many quilts I had made, and I said “over 50″…but you know what? It’s 94. And there are a couple that are made but not “finished” for a variety of reasons…and yes, that includes all the birds and some other smaller things, but that’s a lot of art quilts. Those are the art quilts…not the baby quilts or the ones that hang on my kids’ walls or the landscape quilts that I made for a variety of bridal showers and donation events and my sister-in-law that I never really cataloged. They’re not all awesome…but there’s a lot of them. So here’s to making 94 more…

Iron out the Puckers

February 11, 2015

Whatever that fluke of physical nature that slammed me the last few days has finally settled into a normal, voice-killing cold, always good in my profession. I don’t feel uber-bad, though, despite runny nose and phlegmy cough, so I did manage some art last night. I was feeling like it had been days (it pretty much had), and that never feels good, sick or not.

I started by stitching down the two cancer hands…

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Which took no time at all. And then I sandwiched and pinbasted them, so they are ready for quilting. That also shouldn’t take long. Maybe tonight? Maybe not. Multiple meetings today. There may be nothing left of me by nightfall.

Then because the machine was already set up for stitchdown, I went ahead and decided to do the upholstery piece. It’s scary, because you know it WANTS to fray. You can see it in the edges…they’re ready to pop free and wander off somewhere.

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So I set my zigzag stitch longer and closer together (if that makes sense) to try to tame the savage beast.

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And it freakin’ worked. Mostly. And my machine went through the multiple, heavy, sometimes still sticky layers with no issue at all. The thread only broke once.

You can see it’s almost a satin stitch on the back…

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And it’s puckering like crazy…my camera is giving me trouble…the display is apparently gone. I’m sure I did something to make that happen, but I don’t know what. I am apparently very hard on cameras.

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So stitched down doesn’t look a whole lot different than ironed down. That’s good. There’s some puckering, but I was able to iron most of it out…violently and with steam, lots of it. I think the rest will come out in the quilting (knock on wood). I didn’t have the energy (it was after midnight and I am actually sick) to sandwich and pinbaste it last night, but maybe tonight. She’s kinda scary looking. It’s the neck I think.

I did finish sorting all the batiks for the other recycled piece, but they are in piles on the floor…not very conducive to picking and choosing. So I will have to sit down for a while and sort through each color pile for each piece of that color and fold them all up together, because that’s how I like to keep fabrics. Anal, I know. What can I say? Some parts of my life are utter chaos, as was apparent yesterday afternoon and evening, so I control the few things I can, and fabric appears to be one of those things.

My FFAC quilt is ready to mail…I made a label for it last night and packed it up. I didn’t have a car yesterday, though, so I couldn’t mail it, and today I am booked through 5:30…I can’t remember when the post office closes, but I think it’s 5. Because working people? I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder.

Today I start a brand-new, never-been-used assignment with my kids…seriously hoping it’s not a clusterfuck. It could be! That’s the wonder of new technology though…you have to experiment to find out what can go horribly wrong. And then you move on. Meditative breathing might come in handy there…

Meditative Breathing, My Ass…

February 10, 2015

OK, so I know I’m sick with something. I have a cough. I have phlegm. It’s green. When I took Sudafed, I felt better, less shaky, less dizzy, less spacy. There are some other symptoms that are cold-like or flu-like. Then I’m having chills or hot flashes almost constantly, but no fever. I even got up last night and checked my temperature AND blood sugar to make sure it wasn’t that, because I couldn’t sleep. I felt not only like I was on fire, but like I needed to get up Up UP. Like something was really wrong. I hate that. I needed to be out of bed. So I did what (some of) my ancestors would do. I got up and made a cup of tea (the rest of my ancestors would have had a beer, before they were diagnosed with diabetes). Yes, I realize caffeine and a hot drink when you’re hotflashing do not make any sense, but since the slow, controlled meditative breathing I’m supposed to do wasn’t working for shit, I went for comfort tactics, and I stayed up for an hour plus reading blogs and slowly drinking tea until I yawned again. Then I headed back to bed, where the hot flashes and the distinct feeling that something was wrong continued. More meditative breathing. A cat attacking my head (I guess I was breathing wrong). Finally fell asleep after 4 AM. Not good.

I hate not being able to trust my own body. There are too many meds messing around in there. Too many things that could go wrong. I know if I go to Urgent Care about the nonstop hot flashes and chills, they will just blame menopause or whatever virus I have, and maybe that’s what it is…maybe it’s all about hormones gone awry and there is nothing else that is making me feel so wacky crazy. Ask me again about intelligent design? I guess if God were a middle-aged man and he was trying to get rid of his aging, menopausal wife so he could date a younger woman, this is how he’d go about it. Make her look crazy so it would be OK to dump her for the cute young thang. Get his teeth done. Color his hair. If that’s the god you believe in, I wish you luck.

Dear doctors: it’s not a hot FLASH if it never stops. Please look up the definition of flash and get back to me.

Anyway, despite all that crazy (and it does feel like crazy, even in the broad defining daylight of morning, a morning where you have to go to school and be fully functional), I did stitch a little last night…

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All I did was stitch them down. I wanted to get so much done on my day off yesterday, but I felt like crap most of the day. I did manage to go to the chiropractor, so either the headaches were the neck being out of whack or they were early stages of this weird malady I have, because they are gone.

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Although I did have a heating pad on my neck while I did these. I also graded papers, but I didn’t get very far. I didn’t eat very much either. Probably not a good thing.

I had this photo on my camera of the entire fence in front of SCRAP…

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Little samples spelling out the name.

And this picture of the girlchild…

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I think she actually headed it, although it’s hard to tell from this photo. Soccer right now. Sigh. It’s a clusterfuck.

Anyway. The car is going in today (all the dash lights flashing along with the Check Engine light), so I have no ride home (yet…have three contenders for the job). I feel like crap. I’m still hotflashing. I’m full of green phlegm. I feel completely off. And it’s an assembly day, so school on speed. Fun stuff. Meditative breathing…my ass. Oh, I’ll DO it, but you know it won’t stop the crazy or the hot. Meds. Removable layers of clothing. I got this. I’m not happy about it, but I got it.

Hello Friday…

February 6, 2015

Hello Friday. I’m glad you’re here, although you will be long and full of tests and whiny kids who didn’t study because they think grades are magical things that happen to them and there will be soccer and a plane flight and lots of girly squealing on the other end…wait…no…this is me and Vickie…we don’t girly squeal…we guffaw and snort and make rude comments. So there’ll be lots of that. And maybe I’ll be allowed to sleep…who knows? But there will be lots of food and a musical and hanging out with Tanya and Ethiopian food and maybe some SCIENCE and some art supplies and who knows what else.

But it’s Friday at least, and although I will get absolutely no art made today, Saturday, or probably even Sunday, that’s OK, because I will be feeding the artist’s mind with all the experiences and laughter and goofiness and serious discussion that it needs to be what it is. To do what it does.

Plus I have Monday off, so I can catch up!

Who am I kidding? I will never catch up. Seriously, I have three assignments that need grading from last week, can’t hand any of them off to my TA because they’re too complicated, and I’m about to get four more today. Really I should take all my grading with me (not happening). Or I should stop assigning things.

I am looking forward to coming back and getting my focus on…it’s been off this week for a variety of reasons. I need to stitch down, sandwich, and quilt the two cancer hands. I need to stitch down (although it will probably fray like a bitch) the first of the recycled pieces and pick fabrics for the next one, because they are currently in piles in my living room. I need to start tracing Wonder Under for the Earth Mother from Ventura (seriously, I think that’s her name). That’s next week. Ha! Because I won’t have 7 assignments to grade, 2 soccer games, a union meeting, and god knows what else that hasn’t even hit me upside the head yet?

Yeah. Whatever. I can do it.

And I’m taking my sketchbook on the plane. I’m hoping to sit beside some conservative businessman and draw scary boobs with eyeballs in them. Wait a minute. I really do like that idea. I have not done that. How have I not done that?

Hey Vickie, can I sit at the breakfast table with your kids and draw? She’s gonna say yes.

Meanwhile, my FFAC donation quilt will be winging its way to a newish art quilter in Florida, while mine comes from Belgium…

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I’ll post pictures when it gets here. Could be a while. I can handle waiting. Then maybe I will hang art in the living room, ignoring the girlchild’s edict of no nudity. My house. My rules. Ha. Like that works.

In other cool news, Earth Stories is now traveling through the middle of 2017…

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It will be in Athens, Ohio, May 23-September 7, 2015; San Jose, California, November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016; Huntington, West Virginia, June 25-October 2, 2016; and Erie, New York, January 20– June 11, 2017. Plenty of opportunities to see it…I’m aiming for the San Jose one of course.

I fly places once or twice a year…my quilts? They get to go all over. Lucky beasts.

Ironing Her Down…

February 4, 2015

My hand hurts tonight from cutting the upholstery fabrics for two nights running…it’s harder to cut through than cotton quilting fabric. And my scissors probably aren’t great.

There’s the trash…

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Here’s the upholstery fabrics I used…texture really was the only pattern.

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I had all the pieces ready to cut out on Monday night…

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Oh yeah, I had two cottons…white because there wasn’t any, and black for the pupil, because it was going to be tiny and the nipples are bad enough in this stuff…

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I started cutting stuff out Monday night (and almost finished). You can see the seam in the arm.

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I did find a background fabric that works. I usually pick them first, but because my fabrics were limited, I started with what I had for the body. I figured I could thrift shop a background fabric if I couldn’t find anything in my house. Which yes, of course, meant that I would be carrying around cut-out body parts, like boobs and things, to local thrift shops. I don’t always think these things through. There it is…it’s purple…it’s a Jinny Beyer tiny dot print probably from the 90s. ANCIENT. Or vintage. You decide.

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What’s left in the box is what I had left Monday night at 1 AM, when I decided sleep was in my best interest. Sometimes I think these things through…not last night, though, because I was up Way Too Late. I blame the full moon. I blame it for lots of things.

Tuesday night, I finished cutting pieces out and then started ironing.

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This quilt only has about 150 pieces, so I could lay them all out at once…

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The textures were interesting. Here’s me ironing the eyeballs separately. Then I can lay them on the face at the same time and make sure spacing is right and they don’t look kittywampus.

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I was going to go to bed around midnight, like after I had ironed a whole bunch together, but then I realized I was almost done, so I didn’t stop. This is what causes my sleep issues. My art. The part of my brain that thought that was a good idea.

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And here she is on her background.

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Looking much pinker than she is in reality…she’s more the yellow tones in the upper picture.

The bitchy bit is going to be the stitchdown, because I think it’s gonna fray like crazy. I debated putting tulle over it, but I don’t think that will stop it and it will just annoy me. So I’m just gonna go balls out and stitch it down. I don’t know when that will happen though, because I’m going to be gone for a few days and I’m way too tired tonight (see last night’s excess for explanation) to start anything that involves a needle going up and down very fast near my hand. I’m going to finish this post, print one thing for school, and go to bed. Well, first I’m going to have to rinse the girlchild’s dishes, because although I asked her to do it before she went to bed, I don’t think she did, so I will have to do that so I can run the dishwasher. I was gone for 13 hours today and she couldn’t manage to get the dog from her dad’s house and feed both the beasts. Ugh. She needs to go to college. I love her dearly, but she needs a reality slap upside the head.

And I need more sleep.

Tomorrow Is the Day

February 3, 2015

Tomorrow is the FFAC donation day…10 AM Central Time (that’s 8 AM Pacific time, if you’re time-challenged like me)…email as directed. Here’s Virginia’s instructions and my piece, which could be yours (artwork is randomly assigned). I just need one person willing to donate for this thing to work…

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1 Day – 100 Artists – 100 Patrons – $10,000
This Wednesday
, February 4, 2015
Opens 10 a.m. Central

How The Fundraiser Works

1. On February 4, the first 100 people to contact me (Virginia(at) beginning at 10 a.m. Central will be given a link to donate $100 by credit card directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.

To be fair to all, no e-mails time dated before 10 a.m. Central will be opened. I am not responsible for the vagaries of the e-mail system.
Please note your donation to the ACS will be credited through the Forest Lake Area Relay For Life. Why?

2. Each donor will receive an artwork from one of the 100 generous and talented artists listed below. Assignments of artwork will be made using a random number generator by someone other than me. Artwork will not be shared here in advance, but may appear on artists’ websites or other social media before the event. See ourPinterest board for previews of many artworks. Thanks to Deborah Boschert for maintaining the board.

3. The artwork may be any size as long as the minimum retail value is $100. Artwork smaller than 8×10″ will be mounted to 8×10″ or 9×9.” The artwork will contain fiber and may or may not be stitched. The artwork may or may not be made specifically for this event.

3. Each artist will receive her/his patron’s e-mail address to arrange shipping. Artwork will be shipped directly from the artist. Please note this is an international roster of artists. Please thank the artist for not only donating the artwork, but also shipping it to you.

4. Each artist would love to receive a low res photo of the artwork in situ from the new owner. This is not required, but the best photos may be shared here after the event.

Questions? Contact me at Virginia(at)
or here is a series of Q&A about the event.
If you would like to be sure your Request to Donate does not go in my spam folder on February 4, send a trial message today.

Special Note: Our goal of $10,000 will make Fiberart For A Cause’s donations to the American Cancer Society a nice even one-quarter of a million dollars and FFAC will be happily retired.

To Fray or Not to Fray

February 2, 2015

Some cats are sweet. Some are just annoying. Some stand in front of the computer screen while you’re trying to watch Walking Dead and iron at the same time, and if you move them, they squawk and jump back up, and then try to stand on your fabric AND your Wonder Under all at the same time.

I want you to guess what kind of cat this is.

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I decided at some point last night to just jump in and start ironing fabrics with the upholstery samples…I mean, I have to start somewhere. It may make me nervous, because it’s outside my normal practice, but it’s going to make me nervous no matter what. So get on with it.

I needed a variety of shades of one color to do the whole human body. The only color I had enough variation in was an off-white color.

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But I didn’t have enough of each texture in that shade for the two largest pieces in the quilt, so I had to piece them…and I had to piece a couple different types of texture together to make it work. They were about the same shade, though, so I think it will work.

I know they look different on the back, but that’s because some of the fabrics have a lining-type backing on them. The other fabrics have a sort of rubbery backing that comes off a little when I iron. Does that worry me? A little.

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Sewing them together was an issue, which yes, does in fact worry me. I didn’t rip on this one, but cut the seam right off and tried again, because the stitches were too damn small and buried in the texture. And then I lengthened the stitch as well.

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Here’s the piecing I did for the other large piece…

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All the other pieces were much smaller, so I put together a run of medium to dark values, just like I normally do…

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I finished all the body parts except for eyeballs, lips, nails, and hair.

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So there are a couple of things I’m thinking about…first of all, I think these are going to fray like crazy. I’m hoping the Wonder Under will help a little with that, plus the backing on those that have it. Otherwise, I think that will just be part of the piece. I’m thinking of embellishing the seams and some of the pieces with stitching, a la crazy quilting. I’m also considering painting over this, but I haven’t decided for sure. I think stitching through the whole mess is going to be a disaster. I might have some issues with the weight and strength of the rayon thread I usually use, and my machine might balk at the coatings on the backs and the general thickness. That’s why I’m thinking I need a cotton background…like one if Mariah’s leftover pieces? Or a random tablecloth. There’s always a trip to the thrift shop. I have some old sheets too.

Tonight, I’m hoping to get the rest ironed to fabric and start on the second one. Or maybe cut these out. Who knows? I need to grade papers too, so it’s not a free night. They never are…


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