Big Hands, I Know You’re the One*

October 19, 2016

OK. I’m officially over all these dogs. Scissors chewed up. A drawing by a kid chewed up. One monster stalking my trash can in the studio, trying to surreptitiously sneak shit out of it (Swiffer things, dumbass. Gonna sweep for me?). One big dog peed in the hallway because she’s scared of the dark, even when I escort all the dogs outside for pee excursions. I have a pack that follows me everywhere. There is barking in the small hours of the morning (that’s just one of them…the other two are smartly snoring away on a variety of beds). I can’t even find all the toys to entertain the little bitey chewy animal. Hence the scissors. Bastard.

I didn’t grade last night. Nope. Nuh uh. Did not.

My theory was that I would quilt (because I had the right color of thread) until I was done, and then if there was time, I would grade all the things turned in late. Except then the quilting took almost three hours. And it was after midnight. So I gave up on that plan.

I still think I did the right thing by starting with the quilting.

Morning reminds me that I didn’t get enough sleep. Like I didn’t know that already.

Outlining everything first.


There aren’t a lot of pieces on this one, so it didn’t take long…


And then I started quilting the background.


At one point, I was looking at this vast expanse of white that had to be filled in. Boring! But I powered through (turn the music up louder, bounce a little in your seat as you quilt? Whatever makes you keep going…there was the voice telling me I could be done tonight.).


Because there’s still a lot less quilting than there was on the last piece.


While I was doing this, Kitten kept trying to sleep on the quilt. No. She was squawking at me. And then went over to the bookshelf and kept trying to pull file folders and stuff out of the shelf. I finally cleared her a spot, put a towel in there, and watched her happily curl up in there. Who knows why.


A good hiding spot.

So there it is. And it’s almost done, because at least for now I am not binding it. I want that unfinished look. Like mom didn’t have time to finish it.


So moving on to the nightstand. Maybe this will all make more sense when I have pictures from the installation. Or not. If I ever decide to make it a wallhanging, I’ll have to put a sleeve on it, but for now, it doesn’t need anything else.

I also need to do some drawing for the next three shows. Yikes! The deadlines keep piling up.

As for the dogs, tonight I’m going out. Without them. And I’m ditching them all weekend. By then, maybe I’ll miss them. And one of them will be back at her own home. Where she can pee wherever she likes.

*Violent Femmes, Blister in the Sun

Using Your Headphones to Drown out Your Mind*

October 18, 2016

Artmaking is the core of my existence. It really is. I’m not happy without it. If I look back over the years, when I was just out of school, first married, I made art a few days a week. I actually had a studio downtown for a while, which was nice, but still…I had a life outside of that. I went places. I hung out with my husband. I worked on the yard. Walked the dog. I still did art…probably a good amount, because I made about 6-10 new pieces a year (this is before quilting, so screenprints). I entered shows and got rejections and acceptances and shipped stuff all over the US.

Then the kids came along and that kind of put a minor wrench into it. It was a lot harder to find the time, so I shifted from screenprinting to making quilts, because I didn’t need big blocks of time and I could carry parts of it around with me. It wasn’t a quick shift. It took a long time to figure out how to do what I wanted to do. Sometimes I think I’ve figured too much out about the how…it’s not a challenge any more. And then I remember all the images I want to make into fabric, and I tell myself to shut up. I do about one piece a year that’s a challenge, usually for this feminist artist group I’m in. So I’m good. I usually get significantly frustrated with the process and feel some relief at going back to what I usually do. So I guess that’s good. “I’ll never do THAT again,” is often how I feel after one of those.

Now the kids are at college, gone 3/4 of the year, and even though I do have some social stuff, I mostly do art. Yeah, I’m an introvert, so honestly, at the end of a school day, I need fewer people around anyway. I need some quiet space.

So I have two for this feminist group at the moment…the fabric one is going OK…not TOO out of the box…I pinbasted the top part…batting and a backing even. Like a quilt. Going onto a bed…


So I’m making a quilt of someone sleeping on a bed. To go on a bed. Weird.

My cat…because she’s there almost every night…I’ve always had a cat in the bed.


Here she is modeling for her next cameo


Oh yeah. And before I did all that (and made dinner and graded stuff), I walked the dogs. It was nice. Not hot (unlike what it will be later this week). We got the whole three miles in. Only one horse (two of the dogs go a little bonkers at horses…I have to stand off the trail and rein them in).


I found yesterday very frustrating. I’m getting a lot of that this year. Some difficult kids. Trying to build a relationship with someone who acts like an idiot most of the time is a challenge in itself. I’m not sure I always have the patience for it. Sometimes I’d really just rather find a job that doesn’t follow me home and stress me out. Then just make more art.

*Regina Spektor, Eet

I Can’t Do Much from Way out Here*

October 17, 2016

Yeah. I took the weekend off writing. It really was just that I ran out of time. I regularly take Sunday off, but Saturday started with places I had to be, things I had to do, and I never got caught up enough to write. I got a lot done, though…so I guess that’s good. I’m still a little panicked about deadlines and having too much to do this week, but I’ll survive. I’m a few steps closer to being done with what has to be done.

I had ironing to do on Saturday…but Kitten really thinks of the iron as her own space heater…


I was trying to figure out how to attach the sheet to the background fabric and keep the bottom free, but also leave the possibility of finishing the top as a wall quilt.


For this show, I want it to hang free…but I don’t know if I want that in the long term…


So I figured that out, marked the fabric, cut and washed the background, and then headed off to the Visions opening (more on that later), plus band watching. I draw in bars a lot…this because I like the music, and I do sometimes dance, but I’m often in there for 4 hours or so, and that’s a long time for someone like me to just SIT there. So I draw.


I did two drawings…I don’t think this one is done…


Nice shadows though.

Sunday, after spending most of the day dealing with household stuff and a ton of grading (I think I described it as grading until my eyes bled), I finally got back to the problem…So I didn’t want a visible stitch line, because I want it to look like the sheet is just pulled up. So I started with Wonder Under underneath…


And once I had it attached, I hand-stitched the top and the folds…


Because if I want all that to hold when it’s hung on the wall, it’s got to be more than Wonder Under…you can see the stitching on the back…


Then I laid out the pieces where they belonged. I had to put another layer of white under her butt so the sheet wouldn’t show through so badly.


And then I did the stitch down, which took less than an hour, compared to the two hours it took me to get it all on there today.


I got it all stitched down…here’s the back.


I don’t even remember what my time estimates were before, but the ironing took a lot longer than I thought, mostly because of the sheet. Hopefully tonight I can sandwich it and start quilting. This is a crappy busy week, though, and I still need to draw on the nightstand. Sigh.

I’ll figure it out. I always do. I think I’m OK on time, actually, so I should stop panicking…but this week feels tight already. Starting with today, because I didn’t prep for today’s lab AND I have before-school duty…so I really need to be at school early. I’d much rather make art…honestly.

*Freedy Johnston, Save Yourself City Girl

You Can Ponder Perpetual Motion*

October 11, 2016

Aargh. I feel like this year is going to burn me out quicker than most school years, and not because of the kids (that’s usually what does it). I’m trying to do all the things I’m supposed to do to handle that, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Yesterday I had a ton of professional development, although honestly it just felt like another way to make me do more work than I’m already doing. It’s enough to write curriculum from scratch…but to then have to do all this supplementary stuff on the curriculum I just wrote is killing my brain. When I got overwhelmed (and irritated) in the morning, I started drawing. Unfortunately, this is on the back of some crap I’m probably going to need later (and they told me I would need yesterday, but did not).

This is what it looks like when Nida is overwhelmed in a PD…


And it’s not because what they were saying was hard…honestly, I’ve seen most of it before, but then that just irritates me, and then they assigned some really vaguely worded homework for when we next meet, and I just don’t fucking care about their little projects that I have to jump through a hoop for. Let me plan. For god’s sake, let me get some grading done, because I’m buried. Stop telling me I have to do more.

This year. Damn. There are 17 other things I need to manage today that are school-related besides the two additional things that were assigned yesterday. Bastards.

So by the time I got home, I was antsy as hell. I just needed to like RUN somewhere (and my knees don’t go along with that much). I’ve been having a person issue with one of my walking routes with the dogs, so I didn’t want to drag all three dogs through that route…but I needed somewhere close. So I drove to the ex’s house with two dogs and picked up the third dog, and walked their butts off. Mine too…we needed it. OK. I needed it more than they did.

But I came home and dealt with grades, because I lost my prep period yesterday and didn’t have time to get them done. Plus I’m constantly trying to catch up.

Then I sanded this sucker for the nightstand project…in the dark. On the deck. With the dogs. Listening to the yelling down the road from a major accident…I heard it happen and then the yelling started. Sirens. They were yelling about a rollover. Scary stuff. It’s the turn I make onto my road and once a car barely avoided my ex with both kids in the car, taking out a mailbox instead.


Tonight I’m hoping to start gluing shit on it. Not really shit. You’ll see. The holes on the bottom are a bit of an issue. Trying to decide what to do about them. Quick fix. There’s metal screens in there. I don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with the holes. And I’m not great with a power saw. I have a piece of wood that’s too wide…but it would just be one cut.

Then I settled down with scissors. I thought I could finish cutting these out last night, but I was too damn tired.


I’m maybe halfway done. Another thing to try to get done tonight. And grades. Always grades. In fact, I should be doing more of that right now…sometimes I do feel like a perpetual motion machine…

*Creedence Clearwater Revival, Up Around the Bend

Find Out What We’re Made of*

October 7, 2016

OK. Better. A little. I made art. It’s amazing what that daily dose does for me. Well and a counseling session. Mindset needs to flip about some stuff. Trying to do that without feeling more stress about it. That might be the hardest part.

So first of all, I delivered this commission, Owl 3.0, last night…


To its rightful owner, Julie…who has been around me and my art for a long time and is one of my two Number 1 Fans.


We stitch every month together at a Barnes & Noble…this was my name on the cup last night…


Creative spelling. Or just hieroglyphics.

I worked on one of the Sue Spargo blocks. These are very relaxing to do…and more appropriate in the space than trying to cut Wonder Under out.


Although with 105 bullion knots just in the flower, I think each block might take 8 months to do…


I really do like to hand embroider. I just don’t do much of it any more on my own pieces…no time. Maybe that’s something that should be in the solo show. Somehow. Because I still have no time.

I’m followed everywhere by this pod of mismatched dogs…


They mill about and occasionally settle…I don’t know if you can see the Golden on the floor under my feet.


She put her bone on the coffee table for safekeeping. Seriously. From the puppy. Who is on my lap.

I finally settled them all enough that I could start cutting out the Wonder Under for the piece that was supposed to be done last week. And I was getting emails about it yesterday…for photos of the piece in progress. Well. Um. Here they are.


Lots of doggy interaction going on…


But I cut them all out in less than an hour…


I even sorted them into two bins (there’s only 200 pieces). So if I have any energy or brainpower tonight, I can pick the fabrics. Certainly I should have them done over the weekend. Cutting pieces and ironing down next week…which means figuring out the construction issue…by next weekend. I’m quilting this, but not trimming and binding it. Not for this show. I might decide differently later on…but for this show, it shouldn’t be.

So that will make it easier to get it done. A little. I also need to make a slide show of my work for a presentation tomorrow night. Which is a little nerve-wracking. But I guess I know about 5 people in the group…so it won’t be totally like standing up in front of 40 people you’ve met. Just about 35 people I’ve never met. It’ll be fine.

OK. Progress. My brain is in a much better place this morning. Those alpha waves save my ass…

*Bruno Mars, Count on Me

Crazy Thoughts Have Quick Wings*

October 5, 2016

It’s funny that lab days at school are tiring, but days when I make them write are even more exhausting…I’m still walking the room, but now it’s to get them on task and focused and understanding the instructions they didn’t listen to in the first place. My patience wears thin. I’ve got that 10% who got the thing written while I was giving instructions. And the kids who wrote it yesterday, even though I told them not to, and then had to rewrite. I’m OK with them. And the 10%. But the 20% who didn’t do the prep work and now are saying they can’t write it? Oh man. Therein lies the challenge. And I was observed yesterday as well. I hope she enjoyed it. I definitely worked for it.

So the hardest part of my day sometimes is trying to find the energy and the brainpower to stand up and find my art materials and do the next step, especially if it’s something I really don’t feel like doing. I had spent some time grading and hanging out, so it was a late start. I was exhausted. Really. So I made a cup of tea and set up the light table. Because no way was I doing nothing last night. Writing this post every day helps me stay motivated, because I hate admitting I didn’t do shit yesterday. Although I can’t avoid that sometimes. But I also know this thing needs to get done. And it will only get done if I DO IT.


It only has about 200 pieces…more than 200, because I used about 5 numbers more than once. I think. So this is not a complicated quilt…I made sure of that, although it’s construction will be different in some ways, so that adds to the complexity. I’ve been thinking that part out in my head and I’m not sure I have it solved yet, but I don’t need to do anything different until I start the ironing-together process…and I’m a ways away from that step.

The thing is, I got to about piece 100 and I was so incredibly tired. My brain was tired. My feet were tired. My legs were tired. I paused and took the dogs out to pee (which with my parents’ dog here for the next three weeks is quite an endeavor…at least two of them at any one time are scared of the dark, so I escort with flashlight all the way out into the very scary yard).

And then I came back and mentally steeled myself for it. Dammit. Because I should be able to finish it in one night. The reason I get so much done is that I must have incredible will power to get through the shit part.

Tracing Wonder Under can be very meditative, but it can also be boring as hell and even annoying. Last night it was mostly boring and I was so tired. But it’s done…in a little over an hour.


All that mental drama for an hour and a bit of tracing. Now I can cut it out (probably in one night)…I do need this one done quickly. I’ve been putting it off because of the construction stuff. But I’ll just have to figure that out. The problem doesn’t go away because I don’t want to deal with it. Gee. I think I tell my students that all the time. Sheesh.

There was a lot of doggy drama last night, but eventually the old lady went off to sleep, sprawled on the floor somewhere, and these two started playing…


Wait a minute. I have a puppysitter. That might be cool. If they weren’t all so annoying about food and walks. And cats. I have one cat I haven’t seen in a day. She often hides…and it’s funny…she doesn’t mind other dogs…isn’t even scared. But she does not like Katie, my parents’ dog. So I often don’t see her when Katie is here.

Every year, I find the money to buy a SAQA auction piece…it’s how I support the organization. Plus I get some cool art. I’ve admired Bonnie Jo Smith’s very simple, graphic work for a while, so I’m really enjoying this piece…plus the idea of swimming upstream is something that appeals to me. Or maybe it IS me.


That link is being fussy, but it worked earlier. So hopefully it will work again, so you can read about the series. So now I need to get this up on the wall. And get my butt to work.

*Jem, Save Me

Just Tell Me What You’ve Got to Say to Me*

October 4, 2016

I’m in a mood. It’s a mood caused by adults. Well…and a really slow loaner computer at school, because my computer is dying and I have to use a shitty loaner. But mostly adults. School politics drives me bonkers. Mostly I just avoid it, if I can, but I do have my students’ backs…so if they want to challenge things a little, I support them in that. I’m disappointed that adults who work with children can’t also have an intelligent discussion with them. So I guess this is my opportunity to discuss free speech and censorship with my homeroom. Maybe I should thank the adults for allowing me to do that. Yeah. Thanks.

So I left work yesterday and tried to get out and hike…we eventually got there for a shortened version (got dark too early)…


I love these hikes at the end of the daylight…I really do just dump all the shit in my head out on the path. And then I can focus on whatever I need to. Usually.

So I finished grades. Because they’re due today. Always a good thing. To get them done on time. Because that’s part of my job. Just like encouraging critical thinking is part of my job.

And then I put a binding on the owl…


And then I settled down for the hand-sewing, a glass of wine, and an hour of training on integrated pest management.


Yeah. You read that right. Some of the dumbassery teachers get to deal with. Blurry pictures of cockroaches. No explanation of how to get rid of prions. Blaming us for mice in the classroom. I don’t have any damn mice in my classroom, but thanks. Telling me all my materials had to be in plastic containers. Who buys those containers? Teachers do. With their own money. I had to take a quiz. I got 100%. I actually missed one on the court-mandated reporter quiz, because it was really badly written and I got confused by the words. I love badly written teacher materials. Like typos in professional development powerpoints. Those are my favorite.

Adults. Seriously. Need to get out of my way today.

This is the crooked, highly shadowed photo, because I need to take another one later in better light. But this one is good for seeing the quilting.


That was kinda fun to do. Anyway. It needs to be ironed and dehaired and then Julie can have it. Well. She’ll be paying me for it, which I highly appreciate. This piece was commissioned by a friend, and she very patiently waited for it while I got my act together. It’s actually the same owl that’s in here…

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

On her right hip (on the left because you’re facing her).

And apparently I have to say this too. Trying to copy my work is against the law. If you want an owl quilt, you have some options. You can look at about 100 pictures or more of owls and then draw your own and make your own quilt (what I did). Or you can buy an owl quilt that either I or some other hardworking, underpaid artist made (what Julie did). One of us who works while you’re asleep because we’re that driven. Now if I made patterns of this (which I’m not going to do), then you could buy a pattern and make your own and then not sell it, just use it for personal use, because selling anything made from a pattern is usually also against the law, depending on what the pattern says. And I say this because artists’ rights are another thing that is often ignored. You don’t have a right to my image because I put it out there on the internet. You have a right to exercise your own creativity and make your own stuff, or to financially reward the other artists who are doing that. Choose wisely.

Oh yeah. It’s gonna be one of those days. Wish me luck. Patience. I need some of that too.

*White Town, Your Woman