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…

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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


Holding Hands While the Walls Come Tumbling Down*

August 20, 2016

So. A coupla things. I am behind on responding to comments. I’m sorry. It’s my first week of school. I’m a little overwhelmed. By all of it.

Second, I don’t think SAQA should pull the whole People and Portraits exhibit from the two remaining AQS shows. I think the artists and their family, friends, fans, and future fans deserve to see the amazing work in that exhibit, and I would never wish for their work to be pulled because of mine, even if mine being pulled is a crazy thing. I hope SAQA keeps up the banned quilt commentary in Chattanooga and points people to SPOOL Quilt Store to see my two quilts…because it’s nice of them to show my work and they deserve the extra business.

Third, someone objected to my calling out Fox News in a previous post. It comes to mind that maybe most of you don’t know that my work has been involved in previous kerfuffles, and every time, I’m hopeful that it will never happen again, because the world will become more tolerant and wonderful and amazing, like I want it to be. Yeah. I’m like that.

Fuck that. I have a legitimate beef with Fox News for reporting my work in the No Place to Call Home exhibit as pornography or inappropriate or any other host of words they used, when one woman called them because she was shocked I had shown a vulva in my work (she probably called it a vagina…most did), and had them come to the show and interview her. The Mancusos left the work hanging (although apparently someone put a piece of fabric over the offending vulva in Virginia), and let it continue on the quilt circuit, where there were no loud obnoxious complaints. Which is how it should be. That was back in 2011. And it reminded me that I had a brief moment of Oh Shit when SAQA announced the current exhibit was traveling with AQS. Because yeah. It’s happened before, but for a real thing, not an imaginary one.

And Quilters Newsletter Magazine reminded me yesterday that my quilt Disrupted (from the Sightlines exhibit, another SAQA show that traveled all over) had a complaint after they published it in their magazine in the December/January 2012 issue. The woman said it was like something out of Playboy magazine. QNM supported me across the board with months of positive letters about my work. That quilt got pulled from a museum in Missouri because something about school children. They did pull it before the show opened, though, but no one told me about it, which is a whole ‘nother issue that I believe has been remedied. Which is a good thing.

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That’s Disrupted. I’ve never seen anything like that in Playboy, but then again, I don’t really check Playboy out, so maybe it’s changed since I last saw one in oh about 1988, because I did this art project then using porn magazines. When I was in college. A million years ago. Maybe it’s gotten more arty, more surreal (please don’t give me shit for giving Playboy shit here).

So this is nothing new. And no I don’t like Fox, but I do like QNM. And no, I don’t like AQS. Or Playboy. But I love Mapplethorpe (look him up if you don’t know). So if you object to something I say, feel free to ask me why I said it, instead of calling me out on it. I’m a deep thinker, a reflective person, and if I call out a person or a thing, there’s usually a damn good reason for it. Just ASK. I can’t re-explain the last 10 years of my quilt life every time I post. And yes, I’ve been blogging since 2004. I also don’t like Trump or anyone else who badmouths women or children or refuges or people of a different race or any other made-up construct that people use to create hate and divisiveness.

In other news, I lied. I have a quilt with a shitload of penises in it. I totally forgot about it…it’s called Absolutely Nothing and it was made for an exhibit called Women at War

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Oh yeah, that’s a woman and she’s standing on a pile of men, who all have penises. OK. I think I only count four penises. But still. Them’s not imaginary penii. Them’s the real-ass thang.

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I had something to say with this quilt too. Shockingly. What’s amusing to me is that I’m cutting out fabrics for a new quilt right now and I’m doing more of those stacked rocks…and I think I’m using two, maybe three of the same fabrics. In the rocks. There’s no penises in the new quilt. Sorry. Because I don’t usually do a whole lot of penises. DAMN. There’s five. I suck. Five penises. OK, sometimes I do a lot of penises. Once.

Yeah. The title comes from the song War…what is it good for? Absolutely Nothing. Say it again. Plus all those woman-at-war-in-society issues.

What I really wanted to show today (before I went off last night and typed all that because I couldn’t go to sleep until it was all out of my head) was my newest quilts, one of which is huge, one of which is just plain weird but needed to be finished, and one of which reminds me of sending my daughter to college.

This is the huge one. It’s not named yet. It’s obviously an Earth Mother, but I’ve used that title before. I’m still thinking about it (no, I don’t need help. Thanks.).

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She’s got a ton of detail going on in her…

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And she took me most of the summer to complete…

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She’s like the Earth Mother for Ventura of last year, except without worrying about nudity or politics, like I had to for that one.

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Because yeah, I put a homeless woman in there too. It’s a big problem here in Southern California…and it’s not that I want to get rid of them. I want us to help them, help those who want homes, help those who want stability, realize some will need to live out on the streets, but most do not. Stop pushing them out of our communities because it scares us. Open our community arms and take them in and care for them. All the things an Earth Mother should do.

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This is the weird one…it’s called No Service. It’s been hanging around as just a top for so long that I couldn’t take it any more and finished it.

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And this is the one that reminds me of my daughter…hence the name Earth Daughter. That and she’s obviously a smaller version of the Earth mothers. I drew her on the plane after I left my daughter at college for the first time. Three-thousand miles away from me.

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She’s not very big, but she still has all the plants growing in her.

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One arm tree, some thistle, sunflowers, and cactus arm. Yeah. That’s my kid. A 4-leaf clover for good luck.

Anyway. I have a ton of school and art-group work to do this morning, but then I’m hoping to iron more on the new quilt. I did start last night, but I’ll save that for later. Plus whatever the owl background decision ends up being. And that’s where I’m letting my head stay for a while. And then I’m gonna go hold hands for a while.

*Tears for Fears, Everybody Wants to Rule the World


Out of the Doubt That Fills My Mind*

August 19, 2016

Rough night. Dropped boychild at the airport after the first day of teaching. Too much standing and talking after a summer of…well I did stand a lot when ironing, but it didn’t feel as bad as yesterday. And the talking. And the interactions with people. I know, it’s funny that I’m a teacher and an introvert, but once you get to know the kids, it’s more like dealing with friends or family than just being bombarded with a million new folks. I can see some of the kids feel the same way after a nice quiet summer of doing whatever they wanted. Plus not getting to pee when you need to…that’s always an adjustment.

So I’m sad to send my own kids back to college, but it is what it is. This is what they’re supposed to do. I do miss them pretty horribly today though.

I’m rushed this morning, so this will have to be fast. I’m still amazed by all the commentary roiling around the internet about the quilt with no penis. I have never heard from AQS…I suspect I never will.

Meanwhile, back here in my studio, I keep making stuff. A friend liked an owl buried in the middle of the most recent Earth Mother (I’ll post her pics tomorrow) and wanted it pulled out on its own for a commission. I’ve spent all summer kinda flaking on it, mostly because I wanted to make it a certain way for the Earth Mother and I wasn’t sure it was gonna work for a piece on its own. So I waited until I knew she’d seen it in those fabrics etc. and she was OK with it (she was).

Yesterday, I finished cutting out all the pieces (and promptly lost one…like a boss)…

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And then started ironing it together…

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Here’s all the wing pieces lined up in order for easy ironing…

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Two wings…

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See the internal debate was that striped fabric for the wings…and I decided it worked.

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Now she just needs to pick a background color. I photographed it on a bunch of backgrounds last night, but I don’t have time to resize them all this morning, so I’ll hopefully do that for her tonight and let her choose.

And then I can start picking fabrics for the new quilt tonight, after I walk the dogs, figure dinner out, scan all the coloring book drawings that are coming in for something you’ll see in a bit,…oh…and I forgot. Probably collapse on the couch at some point. Timed naps are useful.

By the way, this owl has no penis. In case you’re looking for that.

*Howie Day, Collide


Back Off…I’ll Take You On*

August 18, 2016

Sits down. Throws toy for dog. Takes a sip of hot tea, even though it’s been over 100 degrees here for days. Back to the school routine. Alarm at 6:30 AM. Brain already awake, worried that I’ve forgotten something. Trying to remember to eat, because my body has to get retrained on no bathroom for 4 hours, no food until noon, standing for hours, talking nonstop (at least for today). Saying the same thing 5 times to 5 different sets of faces. I know how tired I’ll be at the end of it. Voice scratchy, feet aching. And mourning the loss of more freedom. BUT. A paycheck this month. It’s been a while. That will be nice.

Girlchild Face-timed last night…not to see me and the boychild, but to see the dogs.

The quilt saga continues, in a crazy wonky way. I got an email yesterday morning that AQS had shipped both quilts to SAQA. Their reasoning? Not overtly that they were worried there would be complaints, but because everyone else in the exhibit had 2 quilts and now I only had 1. Um. That’s because of You Guyz. Surely I can send another one? Oh no. A friend said maybe they were worried my quilt would be lonely. Does she look lonely?

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Fuck no. She doesn’t. She’s got this. Strong woman. Can hang alone.

I posted about it, after I sat alone in my classroom (I had to be at school yesterday, even though I was mostly done setting up) and cried a little. Cried because my kid is gone, the other leaves today, I’m frustrated that I keep banging my head against all these solid rock establishments…the quilt world, the Quilt Police, the art world, the anti-art people, the anti-craft people. This is crazy. And it hurts.

I make most of my work completely alone, mostly in my head. I’m fairly isolated from a community of makers. I belong to one quilt guild, but they’re awfully traditional. I don’t need to take classes. I live out in the boonies. And honestly, I’m an introvert, not much of a joiner, not a socializer. I’d really rather be in my head with my drawings and the fabric.

So I appreciate all the people checking in. Last night, at some point, I stopped trying to answer all the emails. I’ll try again after school today, because some of you have written some truly nice and funny stuff. I did get one email from a woman who interviewed me for a podcast last night, and as soon as she gets it ready to go, I’ll post all that info here, so you can listen to me and figure out how to pronounce my name right. I just know y’all are going around saying it wrong. (like it matters) But it was really nice to talk to someone who had seen the quilt in Grand Rapids before it came down and wanted me to talk about what happened. Total stranger before that, but sort of cathartic to get it out.

In other awesome yesterday news, Maddie Kertay of BadAss Quilter’s Society fame and owner of SPOOL in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was willing to exhibit the two quilts during September, so I got SAQA to set up shipping directly to her. So if you are going to Chattanooga to see the AQS show (and I really don’t want people NOT to go because of this…go see and celebrate the other artists there. They deserve it.), then stop by SPOOL as well. Maddie wrote about the issue here. And my quilting friend Judy Kurpich wrote about it here. Sometimes other people’s words are better than mine.

So yeah, the world is coming out and supporting me, and that’s cool.

And I keep going. Making. Because it’s what I do to stay sane.

I said I was going to clean up the office/studio, and I did…

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I forgot to photograph the piles when I started. There were many more of them. All the fabrics from the last quilt, plus the stuff my SIL sent. They all needed to be put back in the drawers. It took about an hour to get everything straightened out, and at that point, after being on the phone for quite a while, I was tired. Honestly, too tired to start picking fabrics for the big quilt, although I did set up for that.

See, she’s ready to go.

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And then I remembered I had this easy little guy, the owl from the most recent Earth Mother…a commission. So I had just picked up that quilt from the photographer on Monday. I pulled it out and realized I had just put all those fabrics away. Dammit. Sigh. So I found them again…

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And I laid out all the pieces (there’s only 103)…

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Ironed them all down…and started cutting them out.

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So I’m almost done with that. Hoping to maybe iron it together tonight and then give the future owner some background choices. Then maybe I can get my head around the big one.

So this sugar packet has been lying in the driveway for weeks. It’s the girlchild’s. I’m leaving it there until she gets back.

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Empty nests. Suck.

At school, I was kinda done with everything, and pacing around because of the email about the quilts, and not very focused, but I was supposed to try to draw this spiral of life thing that I do in the classroom…so I started…

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This is what I usually do with the kids…to show what we learn in 7th grade versus all the other grades, and how they’re all connected.

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I brought it home to work on it, but that didn’t happen.

This did. Kitten and Simba are wary of each other.

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In the end, Kitten comes up and sleeps on the keyboard, thus altering Google Docs forever. I come in and my school calendar has 7800 equal signs in it, because she was lying on that key.

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She doesn’t care about all that.

To school. My job. Art when I get home, after I take the boychild to the airport. Then it’s just me and the menagerie and my art.

*Trapt, Headstrong


The Phallus Debacle

August 17, 2016

Today’s title from the girlchild, who was objecting to my using the word penis over and over again. So this is what she’s calling the penis kerfuffle. And there, I used it twice. Sorry kid.

Just a quick summary, for those who don’t want to go back four or five posts…this quilt, I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, was pulled from AQS QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids, MI, due to a viewer complaint about a penis that isn’t actually in the quilt.

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It’s supposed to be shipped back to me, and there’s a possibility of it being shown at a quilt store, SPOOL, in Chattanooga, TN, during AQS QuiltWeek if I can coordinate shipping.

My second quilt in People and Portraits, a SAQA exhibition traveling with AQS QuiltWeek, is Fully Medicated. SAQA asked AQS for a guarantee that they wouldn’t pull it if someone complained about it, and AQS is still thinking about that. I’m hoping a bunch of emails and comments from the rest of the world help remind them that they are in the public eye and persuade them to keep it hung.

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Still no penis. But plenty of other stuff, sure. Maybe pill bottles set you off. Hard to say. I personally have issues with red and yellow used together.

I completely appreciate all those who are being supportive of keeping art out there in the public eye, even if it offends a few…or many. I heard that SAQA was showing my quilt on an iPad and telling viewers it was banned. That makes me laugh heartily, and I appreciate that too. It’s been a roller coaster of a week, what with both kids leaving for college (one is here until tomorrow…the other sent 17 homesick texts this morning at 4 AM), starting school myself, trying to deal with all the stress of change at school, and temperatures of over 100 degrees. I have a migraine this morning (not a good thing) and I’m moody as hell. Blame the censorship, blame the kids leaving, blame my stupid hormones.

I am still making. I am just looking at what I’m doing, though, and thinking “What if this never gets shown anywhere?” Because that’s what goes through your mind when you butt heads with the world like this. I’m going to keep making the art, because I don’t know how to stop…but what if I never get into another show because of it? And I know that’s not going to be the case, but that little voice in your head is worried.

So thanks to all of you…

Sigh. So last night, I did manage to sort the Wonder Under for the next quilt…I start with a box for each 100 pieces…

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And then I stood there with the fan on me directly (because it was still 90 in the house)…and I sorted.

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For about an hour? Not so bad. The last one took more like 2 1/2. There’s a lot of big pieces in this quilt. I really did try to simplify. I just suck at it.

Tonight, I’m hoping to come in here and clean up from the last quilt and all the shit I’ve been doing in between (fixing pants…organizing crap) and start picking fabrics for this one. I figure it’ll take about 15 hours to pick…so hopefully by the weekend some time? Maybe? Then trimming those…by the end of next week? Maybe start ironing next weekend? I’m really trying to get this one done on time…so it’ll be a stretch.

I have to be at school today to prep, even though I’m mostly done. I’d rather be here working. But then, that’s a daily thing.


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