Now This Is Apparently My First Life as a Woman…*

August 30, 2016

So I realize that showing you piles of cut-up pieces and the trash resulting from the cutting is very exciting, and you, like I, can see the subtle difference in the size of the pile from yesterday to today and that interests you as much as it does me. Uh huh.

But that’s what I’m doing. Coming home. Walking two dogs that were very enthusiastic about walking until we actually started doing it, and then were very eager when we finally turned around to head back to the car. So eager at that point that they forced me to run. The car! The car! Where is it!

Yeah. The excitement was palpable. (A thesaurus was used in this post. I originally had the word excited or some variation of it at least 10 times. It’s early. My brain not so worky.)

After dinner, I got to sit and be repeatedly attacked by a puppy who apparently didn’t get tired from the hike. After significant interaction with said puppy, I was allowed to cut things out for a significant number of minutes. Seriously, I’m at about 5 1/2 hours. Honestly, I don’t know how close I am to done. Not much in closeness, I think. The to-do pile is still hugeish…

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But I’m down into the hair, which is right before the fleshy bits…so I’m getting there. Wherever there is. I suspect I’ve got at least another two nights of doing this. The hand is sore today, but not too bad. I’m going to run out of things I know I want to watch though. Or maybe I should look more closely.

Pile of stuff that’s cut is on the left. The box with the trimmed bits, which the puppy at some point head-butted into the air and all over the couch, is on the right. That too was exciting stimulating.

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It was an exciting tumultuous night. Really. It was. I’d like to be ironing this together before the weekend. I don’t know if I can actually pull that off, but if I keep staring at the calendar and panicking, maybe I can make the days longer just by the force of my own will.

I’m trying anyway.


I used to make clothes and other household items, but they’re pretty boring. I’d rather do what I do.

*Laurie Anderson, Oujia Board

I Slipped Away*

August 29, 2016

Every Sunday, I make a list of all the stuff that needs to be done to get me through the week: lunches, dinners, sometimes even breakfasts when I feel like I need control of that (this week? Yup.). Then there’s the stuff I have to prep for school: update the website, send out a parent email (those haven’t started yet), prep for the week, write warmups etc. I grade papers. Yesterday I even set up the gradebook, because that’s a thing. I grocery shop and run errands if I need to. Laundry. And then, sometime usually after dinner, I get to do what I want. It depends on how efficient I was during the rest of the day. Certainly I woke up yesterday with all of it weighing on me, and then I tried to book through as much of it as possible. I’m sure I forgot something, though.

But I did get to the cutting stage last night. I had to tire the puppy out first, so he wouldn’t try to help…

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I threw all the balls for him for a long time.

All the stuff I’d ironed last, all the tiny stuff in the brain cloud above her head, had to be cut out first. I don’t even cut out the tiniest of them, not until I’m ready to iron. But they were all small anyway.

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Doesn’t look like much, but it was about 150 pieces.

It got easier after that, bigger pieces that didn’t require tiny scissors…then medium-sized pieces that are the meat of the thing.

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I got through a good chunk of them, almost 3 hours of cutting, and surprisingly, my hand doesn’t hurt today. But there’s still a ton left. I didn’t even get to the flesh pieces. They’re all piled in the box in backwards order of when I ironed them. So all those inner body pieces, the hearts and lungs, that’s what I’m cutting out now. I’m always amazed that I can look at a little piece as I’m cutting it and know what it is…because they don’t really usually look like anything. But I drew that piece. And then I traced that piece. And then I cut it out of Wonder Under and ironed it to fabric, and now I’m cutting it out again. Somewhere my brain has an inventory of all those pieces, and it knows what each one is. Which explains why I can’t remember anything else some days.

I keep staring at the calendar and then the due dates, and getting a little hyperventilaty. No, that’s not a word. But it should be.

I think I can finish it, but I’m not sure. And there are two standing right on top of it when I finish.

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I didn’t mean to have so many due dates on top of each other. I’ve already ditched another one and revised one of the ones I can’t ditch. But that one got doubled up when I wasn’t looking. Long story. A collaboration I need to get started on…and then one I’m going to simplify…which is what this pre-drawing is for.

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I’m going to draw it bigger, but then I think I’m going to be taking some short cuts. Using a real sheet. Not quilting it maybe. I can quilt it later, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be quilted for this show. I need an old sheet first though. Thrift shop. No pattern, solid color, gray, blue, green, but muted. I think.

Anyway. The brain is working on it. The rest of the brain needs to get to school and figure out the teaching part. Which includes a 2-hour staff meeting after school. I wish they’d figure out that the second hour is a waste of time, because we are all completely checked out. I guess I can grade stuff. Then maybe I won’t have to do that tonight at home. Plan.

*Boston, More Than a Feeling (I never knew the words to this one…always thought it was “I see my derriere walking away.” Which makes no fucking sense, I know. But whatever.)

Pouring Down All Over Me

August 27, 2016

Finally was able to name this one…

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

I’ve been calling her Earth Mother 2016 since I started her in April. I knew I wanted to do another Earth Mother. I’ve done a few over the years. Well, more than a few. So I named it Holding It All In…because that’s what it felt like. Usually titles are much easier than this. It took me over two weeks after finishing it. Most quilts name themselves during the drawing stage or as I’m working on it. I listened to a bunch of music, looked up quotes about earth mothers and nature and the planet. I wrote down some stuff to try to stimulate my brain. Finally I just put the picture up on the screen and stared at it, let my brain wander around with the image. Took about 10 minutes. Kinda funny. Because otherwise she was gonna be Yet Another Earth Mother and that’s a shitty title.

The one I’m working on right now already has so many titles. I will have to choose.

I didn’t get anything done last night. Sometimes that happens. It’s OK. I make art almost every day. Sometimes my brain is on another quest. I’m going to finish the fabric choosing today. As soon as I get back from picking a background for the owl. I need to get ready to leave honestly.

I came back last night to Kitten in the damn fabric box again. My fault for not covering it. She was not happy when I did that. Sigh. Because there aren’t other boxes filled with fabric that cats have sat on in here? I can point her to another one that three other cats have sat in besides her. But she doesn’t want THAT one.

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I sent one dog to her dad’s to play. Two is easier, but only slightly.

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OK. More accomplishment of art stuff will happen while you’re not watching.

*Peter Gabriel, Red Rain


Tell Me Why It’s So*

August 26, 2016

Hey. First Friday of the school year. I’ve almost survived the first week. It’s gonna be a challenging year. Which is why I’ve come home every single day and launched myself into artmaking as soon as I could. I’ve walked dogs and gone to the gym and done some ball throwing and general lying on the floor so dogs could check in, but mostly, I’ve come home and made art. Luckily there’s been food in the fridge, so I haven’t had to do a lot of cooking.

And some time Wednesday night, my brain released most of the crap about AQS and their statement (I had already released the censorship part…it’s just irritating stupid crap that I will keep running into as long as I make the art that’s in my head). I’m in serious Fuck You mode on all of it now. I briefly considered making a quilt of a certain AQS high muckymuck with a penis coming out of her head, and then I grew up and continued on.

OK. I still have that image in my head, but I don’t have to make that quilt. Honestly, I don’t have time. And I don’t care enough about it to do that. I have a million other deadlines I’m dealing with right now, and I want those quilts NOT to be reactions to this, although the censorship angle…it works for a show I’m hoping to be in next Spring. So maybe that’s where I go. I was going that direction anyway. Honestly, so much of my work is feminist and/or based on women’s lives and experiences, that all this focus on a penis that was never there is kind of a slap in the feminist face. Or a highly amusing, ironic event that got my work some eyeballs they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. So there we are. Come for the imaginary penis! Stay for the real art!

This is how I keep my head straight. Well, as straight as it ever is.

Yeah, I saw SAQA’s statement. I saw it ahead of time. I honestly think they are trying to make all this work. I really really don’t want them to pull the whole exhibit because of this. And I am still concerned, because I think my work will still be an issue…and I know that because it’s pretty recognizable, there are probably jurors who will see it and think, um, do I want a Nida quilt in this show? And they’ll decide no. But they probably would have said no anyway. So thanks to the jurors who say yes. And I’m OK with the jurors who say no because it doesn’t fit. Because that happens. But yeah, the gut is still concerned. The brain has a tiny bit that worries all the time. Well. A not-so-tiny bit. I’ve told it to shut up and have a margarita and get back to me when it wants to worry about real shit, like paying for college.

I do exhibit in art shows too…but that’s a challenge as well. So. I guess I’m up for some more challenges. Bring it.

If it seems like I’m ironing all the time at the moment, it’s because I am. I have not organized this for two days. Wait. That’s not true. I organized it right before I started ironing because I couldn’t find anything.

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And it’s messy again. That’s my real issue with cleaning.

Kitten sat in the box and squished all the pieces down. I kicked her out, turned around, and she was back in it. Sigh. So it looks like less than yesterday, but I did all that detail stuff…hearts and veins and tattoos and lungs and hair and I don’t even know what else. A knife.

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I still have a rocket to do (they keep showing up in the last few quilts)…and the top part of the main figure’s face, because it’s not flesh colored. And then the clouds and everything (fucking tiny pieces) in them. So I realized this morning I really only have about 150 pieces left. I can do that. Not right now. Even though I’m already exhausted. And it’s morning and I have to get through a Friday with 140 7th graders on their first real lab day. Yeah. I’ll be FRESH when I get home. And after I go hang out with gamer buddies and maybe play games. Uh huh. No really. I usually do work on Friday nights too.

It’s a big quilt. Not as big as the last one. Taller than I am. Not that that means much.

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My students make cover pages for each science unit, and I always do one too. The girlchild says this is weirder than usual. The snake happened because I had this empty space and the kids said, “you’ve been talking about snakes getting loose all week…where’s your snake?” So I drew one. But he was up in the air, so he needed wings. And then he was too fat in the middle, so he must have just eaten. Probably shouldn’t fly so soon after eating.

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I kept calling the mad scientist female, and they were convinced it was a man. Oh my. Well we will have to change some of that shit this year. Yes children. Girls SCIENCE. That’s why she has pink pants. Because I would never wear pink pants, but in their minds, a male never would either, so they HAVE TO SEE HER as a woman. And I didn’t even give her boobs and a uterus. Ha! Yes. I think that hard about what I teach and how I teach it.

So today, we will science. And hopefully I will have more patience than yesterday.

The dogs aren’t helping. This is a brief moment of quiet truce. Otherwise it’s been chaos.

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I love making art. I love drawing. I love picking fabrics. I love ironing it all together and seeing the image appear. I love adding the stitching line and waiting for the official photographs. I love coming home almost every night and coming in here to iron or sew, or sitting on the couch with a pile of pieces that need to be cut out or with a binding that needs sewing. That’s the shit I need to remember. I love all that more than I love mailing it off for a show. Really. I do.

Thanks again for all the comments. I’m buried and overwhelmed with trying to answer all of them, but know that I’ve seen them. And they mean something to me.

*Tom Waits, Tell Me

Living Life Gets Hard to Do*

August 25, 2016

In a different place today, in my head. Those late-night conversations I have while I’m trying to fall asleep don’t help. Last night was better, because I know I am just going to keep making art the way I do, drawing what I want (I can’t tell you how many people are demanding I do more penises now…and if they come up? That’s fine. Come up…heh heh heh…see, I AM a middle-school teacher. But I really am gonna just draw like I normally do, without all y’all watching over my shoulder), making the quilts that I want, trying to meet all my deadlines. That’s what I need to focus on. Not the crazy. Hear the good and ignore the bullshit that major companies make up to make themselves look better (by the way, AQS, it didn’t work. I still think you suck. And I’m not the only one. You didn’t count on some introverted antisocial quilter from East County being louder than you. Thank you, internet.).

Whatever. Actually, some part of me wants to enter every AQS show from now until I die, but I don’t have a lot of extra money and I don’t want any of it going to them. I’ve never entered an AQS show. I don’t plan to start now.

SAQA has contacted me, and they’ll release a statement soon. I think they really are trying to change some of the stuff that has not been great in the past. I think one of the best things about this was the people on the floor at Grand Rapids who took a picture of my quilt and were showing it to the viewers and telling them it was banned. That warms my heart.

Someone asked about my exhibition plan…and I always have one. I always enter some, like Art Quilt Elements (got into that this year), Quilt National, Visions (those are always long shots), Quilts=Art=Quilts. I don’t always get in. I look for the SAQA shows that are going to travel, especially the museum ones. I don’t even enter the regular IQF show. I can’t enter my local quilt show, because they have some clause about “family friendly” or whatever it is now. I don’t live in a particularly progressive county. We have a SAQA regional show in a local performing arts center, and it’s always a toss up as to whether I’ll have work that can show there…I didn’t this year. I don’t always plan to have a smaller no-naked quilt lying around. So none of this was expected. I live sort of on the edge of quilt world and art world.

I’m trying to get this next quilt done, despite all this and the stuff at school and dealing with the kids being gone and the herd of dogs I’m now managing. It’s a better place for my head than out in Wonder Land.

I finished laying out the last of the human figures, the biggest one, but also mostly hidden by the figures in front of it…which is an interesting concept in itself.

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This is what a piece of fabric looks like when I’ve tried to fit them all on there. This one will have a lot of little pieces left, but not a lot else. I should design a quilt with a lot of little people in it to use up all the little pieces of flesh color…

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I tend to use the same flesh colors over and over until there isn’t enough of it to use anymore. I have one flesh fabric that I bought yardage of way way way back, like when I started art quilting. Seriously, it’s in my first real art quilt, back in 1999 or so. But usually I only buy 1/2 yards, so there isn’t a lot of it if there are big flesh pieces in the quilt. It might not do more than two quilts or bodies.

But I still hadn’t done all the inner pieces, all the non-fleshy bits. It was a ton of pieces by then. An overwhelming pile.

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But I put a dent in it…an eyeball here, a lightning bolt there. Until I was too tired. About 2 1/2 hours last night, I think. I’m in the 1000s, but I still have a bunch of filler pieces to do. So I’m getting close to done. I don’t think I’ll finish tonight, but I might get close.

Here’s the box…glad I moved to the bigger one.

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Because it’s almost full…

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Kitten keeps adjusting music and video by lying on the keyboard.

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Apparently she doesn’t like Gillian Anderson’s British accent any more than I do.

OK. Artmaking in the brain. Because the rest is too much chaos, even for me. (That may include my job, for which I need to leave rather soon.)

*Maroon 5, Sunday Morning

More Than This*

August 24, 2016

So AQS finally felt enough pressure (thank you all) to make a statement about pulling my quilts (although they only talked about pulling the one). I’m confused because it doesn’t match anything I was told. Well, except that they removed it. The statement is below…I’m not exactly sure where it’s posted in real life, because it wasn’t sent to me by AQS. Nothing has been sent to me or communicated to me from AQS directly.

“After receiving numerous complaints from attendees about a quilt in the SAQA exhibit, AQS removed the quilt from the People & Portraits exhibit at the Grand Rapids QuiltWeek event.

Prior to removing the quilt, the feedback AQS received was not limited to one isolated comment. Attendees reached out to AQS staff at the show and via emails and phone calls to our office.

Despite the removal of this quilt, AQS was able to display more than 700 other quilts at the show for viewing by the general public in Grand Rapids.”

This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach. I’m amazed by their disrespect toward me and SAQA. And I’m worried that this will hurt me and other art quilters in the long run. I wonder if there were no comments during the other four QuiltWeek events or if I was just kept out of the picture. I remember the feeling in my gut when SAQA told me this exhibit was traveling with AQS. I think I have quilt show PTSD at the moment. So I guess any traveling show I’m in, my work will now get pulled if it goes into one of the quilt show circuits. Thanks to the Mancusos for not reacting that way back in 2011. Appreciate the respect.

Here’s a post by Virginia Spiegel that explains why I haven’t been sleeping for the last week. As I’m sitting here working on the next “controversial” quilt, I’m wondering how this is going to affect me. I have a piece in SAQA’s Turmoil exhibit that will hopefully travel after it shows in IQF Houston this year. Or maybe it won’t. I’ve already been warned that my Earth Stories piece might be too controversial and pulled from some venues (it deals with free birth control and Planned Parenthood, giving women who WANT it the power to control how many children they have and how often).

Will the work I’m making now ever be in an exhibit? I hope so. But if it’s not, I blame AQS. I blame the woman (what I was told in the beginning) who saw an imaginary penis. Shit. I blame the country’s attitude toward women at the moment and controversy and anything that isn’t pretty. Don’t get me wrong…I love me some pretty art and beautiful quilts. But that’s not all there is.

I really really tried last night to get my head into art so I could sleep. The last part was a failure, but I got a lot of ironing done (and know that there’s some shit at school as well right now that is incredibly overwhelming and stressful, so that’s not helping with the sleep part.).

I lay pieces out by the 100s…I think these are the 600s? Or maybe the 500s.

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When I’m dealing with figures, I try to do all the flesh pieces at the same time, so I know what is what color. This is the 2nd figure, the one in front. Some people are going to look at her and be disturbed. AND THEY SHOULD BE. That is my intent.

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Then I laid out the 3rd figure, who is just behind the 2nd one, so mostly hidden, except for head and shoulders.

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I haven’t ironed all the inner non-fleshy bits though…I still have to do hearts and lungs and hair and anything else that wasn’t basic flesh color. I’ll do some of that tonight, I think.

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I’m in the 700s, but there are probably close to a hundred pieces that aren’t done prior to that (hearts etc.). So maybe halfway done. Shit. It’s taken 11 hours. Not a fast process, by far.

Here’s what I’ve used so far…lots of flesh colors. The pile that’s not in the boxes is for the last figure, who does still have arms and shoulders and head showing.

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Here’s what I have ironed down so far.

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I’d like to be done with ironing them down before the weekend, if not before, but I’m not sure I can do that in two nights. Not if it’s another 11 hours. I did iron for 3-plus hours last night. I kept waiting to be tired. Honestly, I was also watching the last episode of Happy Valley and couldn’t stop. Great show.

On top of this, I’m currently dealing with an extra dog. It was more than I needed yesterday. It took two of us humanoids to manage dinner, and I won’t have that help for the next 4 days. Too much stress. Maybe they’ll be more mellow tonight.

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Kitten is fine though. Irritated about the extra dog, because she’s a cat chaser, but…

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She loves me even though I brought the interloper in.

Shit. This week. This month. I’m going into full hermit mode soon. OK. Maybe I’m already there. I hear all of your messages though. I’m trying to NOT hear all the other messages out there in the world.

*Roxy Music, More Than This

Open up Your Folding Chair Next to Me*

August 23, 2016

Not sure why I’m not sleeping at the moment. The adjustment from my summer hours to my school hours? I went to bed early (for me) last night and then couldn’t sleep. Seems pointless to try sometimes. It’s not really hot at the moment. I know I’m stressed, overwhelmed, and that doesn’t help, but I did a 3-mile walk with the dogs yesterday. It should have helped. It just made my feet hurt.

So now I stand all day at school and come home and walk three miles and then stand next to an ironing board. Really I should thank my feet for any portion of that, and realize when I wake up the next morning that I am hard on them. Sorry feet.

So we walked…

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And it was good. I appreciate the kids kicking my hiking butt into shape this summer. The hilly hike was easy…ish.

I also spent some time on the floor with dogs…

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When my feet were hurting at the ironing board. Today, I get a third dog. Introducing chaos to chaos.

So what stopped me ironing the night before was getting to the first figure in the quilt. There are four overlapping figures and I kinda had to pick all the flesh colors at once to make sure it would work. So here’s the four runs…actually, that one darker brown got used in the last run as well. Those two figures barely touch, so it will be fine.

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While I was trying to pick those out, Simba was launching himself at me with all the toys he could find. It was not helpful.

I transferred the ironed pieces into a larger bin, because I realized the smaller one was almost full and I was barely into the ironing. I did Figure 1 (super small guy…no penis) and then started on Figure 2, but it was late and I was tired. I did her bones, but then quit, because she’s the front figure and very complicated. Lots of pieces…only some of them below.

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I have her fabrics laid out here and I’ve started placing all the fleshy bits.

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I’ll finish her tonight. I hope.

I didn’t clean up the fabrics last night because I have two flesh runs I want to keep out and the white pile on top is the bone colors…not sure if I’ll change those from figure to figure. I could.

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A new friend posted this…


I laughed a lot. I talked to my mom last night and she’s written AQS two emails, admitting that she’s my mom, but hey…she’s actually still an AQS member! I gave up on them years ago, mostly because I grew out of needing to see their magazine. Now I like to see art quilts, but don’t need how-to stuff really at all.

Anyway, late to school…the computer was being a pain this morning…and the internet. Probably going to have to deal with the latter issue sometime soon. Ugh.

*Regina Spektor, Folding Chair


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