Listen to the Body

May 28, 2016

Ah the challenges of the end of the school year, and your college-aged kids coming home, and a puppy in the house, and all the things that need to be done. The puppy now has been neutered…although it was problematic. Poor guy had one undescended testicle…I wonder if that’s why he hadn’t been neutered yet…they were waiting or they realized it was more expensive to do? It’s done now. But he’s not a happy camper…

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He does have plenty of people around to love him and help him maneuver with the cone, although all he really wants to do is lick his butt, and he’ll have to wait 2 weeks for that joy. He mostly slept last night…a very different puppy to the one we normally have.

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We all went out to dinner at the Indian place…oh my golly, I forget how good that place is. I don’t go at all when the kids are gone, unfortunately (I should order takeaway)…and I usually get multiple meals out of one dinner. Yummy.

Then we came home and rallied around puppy for a while, until the kids went off to bed or room and I started tracing Wonder Under on the newest quilt…which currently is called Earth Mother 2016…I’m assuming I’ll come up with a better name eventually.

I didn’t get far in the numbers, because the whole bottom section is a giant half Earth and the pieces are pretty large.

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So I traced the entire Earth part and got partway around the edge of it until I thought it was pretty late…and I knew I had multiple places to be this morning, so I needed to sleep. I didn’t have the mental energy to do a lot else last night, even though I brought home a huge pile of grading for the three-day weekend. One of the things that sucks about being a teacher is that every single three-day weekend is during school and you end up grading through at least one of the days. Sundays are already trashed by lesson planning etc on a regular weekend, so it’s nice to have one extra day, because it means I will try to treat at least one day of the weekend as a real day off…no grading, no errands, no cleaning. Just relaxing and reading and hiking and hanging out. If that works.

But I do hope to get more tracing done on this over the weekend…around the grading and the artist drop-offs and pick-ups and artist talk and all the other stuff. And right this second? I need a nap. Sad but true. Massive headache plus tired. Not a good mix. Might be worth setting the timer for 20 minutes and putting a pillow over my head. Just a quickie. Listen to the body…it’s telling you something.

Big Numbers…

May 27, 2016

I stayed up late to finish numbering. I know you find that surprising. I really was going to stop at midnight, but I really really (notice the two reallys) wanted to know how many pieces she had. So I numbered…for a total of 2 hours and 33 minutes (not all last night, mind you)…and she has 1954 pieces. Not bad. Less than 2000. I guessed right. So now I can process that in my head…make sense of it. Everything will take longer than the last couple did. And I’m OK with that.

I like having summer quilt projects with big numbers…lots of pieces. It’s like books you really love…you want them to be big, thick tomes so they take up a huge amount of your brain and time to read. I like to have big hefty quilts that will take up a huge chunk of my summer creating time. It’s somehow easier. I used to only make big quilts in the summer, but now I just make year round.

I started numbering at the bottom and went to the top. I try to be logical, but I was tired last night, so when I start tracing and ironing stuff, you can remind me that I probably wasn’t as logical as I’d like to be. You can see how big it is here.

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I number in sections…one leg, the other leg, one arm, the other arm. The head is often last…some cactus there and an octopus.

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I try to make it easier when I can…number all the background pieces and then the stuff that lies on top of them…a bat, the tail of a snake.

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Midnight likes to lie on it while I’m numbering, until I poke her too many times and she gives up and goes somewhere else…stares at me balefully from the couch.

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Here’s one of the crazier sections, although, again, while I was drawing, I tried to make sure I could trace all the petals of those flowers as one piece…and the pine branch above it is a little nuts, but not as crazy as it could be.

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I even marked a couple things as embroidery or beads (the tips of butterfly antenna do not need to be cut out of fabric). Does it have a lot of pieces? Well, yeah, but that hasn’t worried me before. Last year’s big summer quilt had 1850 pieces in it, finished the drawing in mid-July and the whole quilt by the end of September, with that 17-foot woman done in the middle of it. Plus surgery, the start of school, and taking girlchild to college. So I did OK. It was 164 hours total. So tracing on this one will probably take about 22 hours…My goal is to be done with ALL the Wonder Under, tracing and trimming, by the time school gets out in three weeks. I think I can do that.

And yeah, I know a lot of people think I’m crazy for making quilts like this, using all the tiny pieces, but I like the process and how it looks in the end, so I am going to keep doing it this way. I do have more problems with my hands than I did when I was young, so I realize I might not always be able to do quilts with this level of detail in them, but until that happens, I’m going to take advantage of the hand years I have now.

OK. I’m actually a little excited about this quilt now. Next stage. Tracing is meditative. And I do have two more major drawings to do before the summer is out…

Over the Hump

May 26, 2016

The household is full. All kids have returned home. Boychild is even skinnier again. Says the new jeans from last summer (winter?) are falling off again. He goes to college and loses weight. Bizarre.

They were all in bed before me, though. The girlchild didn’t sleep well the night before and the boy, well it was 2 AM his time.

Me? I was in the mood to deal with the damn drawing. First I filled in the hole with passionflowers…

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They popped into my head because I was searching for vines and I remembered these at a friend’s house. I used to have one bush here but it died. In the drawing, I wrapped all around the last bit of the space. Total drawing time was about 13 hours. It took 33 minutes to fill in that last space, done yesterday afternoon instead of doing any grading. Or cleaning. It was a long day of frog dissections followed by a doctor’s appointment. I was tired. I needed to draw…

Girlchild on the couch, Midnight on my drawing. It’s OK…I’m not drawing where she’s sitting.

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But they are lying where I need to be standing.

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I tried to photograph the whole drawing, but it was dark by then…

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Wow, that’s a crappy picture. Sigh. I’m still not sure about the big empty space on the right, but I’m thinking about it as I number the piece. I may add something before I finish.

Yes, I started numbering. Because I wasn’t tired yet. Well, that’s not true. I was tired. I just wasn’t willing to stop yet…

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I didn’t number the whole thing though. I got to about the middle of the torso and piece 536. My rough guess is between 1500 and 2000 pieces. We’ll see how wrong I am…maybe I will finish tonight.

I’m glad I finally made it over the hump with this one and finished the drawing. It was kinda kicking my butt. I just got stuck and couldn’t get it done. I think it was more about all the other things I was trying to get done and worrying over, and then I’d get to the drawing and I was too tired to suss out how to finish it. I have two more drawings I need to get started on…both for November due dates, so it seems like plenty of time, but not for two. I could easily do this one and one more big one before November, but I’m not sure about a third. We’ll see.

But first, I have to go to that place that gives me a paycheck (give? I work my ass off for that). The last unit finishes today, and then we start human reproduction after the long weekend. That unit is kind of easy, although hard on the voice. At least I have their attention. This is one of the units I get to keep for next year…although it will be harder to teach it without all the body systems and genetics stuff before it that we usually teach. We’ll have to think about that.

Because It Was the Right Thing to Do

May 25, 2016

Well. May is kicking my ass. My artistic ass, that is. My tired ass. Again. I really thought after yesterday got revised (plans change…) that I could kick the graded assignment out, get it done super quick, and then finish the big drawing and start numbering it. That really was my plan. Except my dinner plans got changed, and I figured that out (hallelujah for the stash of leftovers I usually have), but then realized I hadn’t finished the boychild’s room. You know. The boychild who is coming home today. I mean, it’s not until 9 PM, but I have a chock-full day already and I’m tired…so I gave up and went in there and finished.

Because it was the right thing to do. I read all these stories about famous male artists in the past and how someone handled all their household stuff and they tell women you can’t be a REAL artist if you have children, and I hate that shit because I don’t believe in it. I’ve been a real artist for years AND had kids and they have just internalized the crazy mom sewing in the middle of the night as normal. Like the light table in the living room. We don’t notice it any more. It’s a work space.

I have to admit that some of the “finishing” the boychild’s room included picking up a pile of papers that I’m not really sure where to put and just piling them back in the office. I will need to deal with the mountain to the left of the computer at some point. Just not today. There’s also some fabric I just piled up to be put away later. But he has a place to sleep. And it’s clean…some black cat had shed an entire cat-full of hair on his chair.

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So there. I achieved something. It just wasn’t artistic or part of my day job. The boychild will be happy about it though. So that counts.

I did go to Costco yesterday…I have been avoiding it, but the toilet paper issue was about to become, well, an issue. I don’t buy much at Costco, but TP and cat litter are the two things I will venture in there for, so with my plans shot to hell, I went there after the chiropractor. It’s usually less busy after 5 PM, so it’s quicker than a Saturday run.

But because I was in a mood, I bought these.

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Notice Midnight’s stare. Do I need more storage? Of course I do. I always do. But maybe not. Right now, I have a lot of my handsewing living in the plastic Rubbermaid boxes, but I use those to sort stuff too (you’d be floored by how many of those things I have, both here and at school). Anyway, it’s not particularly efficient for storage. I’m hoping these are better.

Perhaps I will spend the whole week after school gets out cleaning house and organizing shit. I’m notoriously flaky that week. Need to recover and all.

So the drawing itself is obviously not done and I wonder if I should start another smaller one that’s less stressful. I have this one…

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And this one…

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Sigh. No. I should finish the big one. Then one of these can happen in between this big one and the next big one. I finally wrote down all the deadlines I’m considering for the next 8 months on a post-it and put it by the computer so I could be reminded of my goals. Because my tired school brain keeps forgetting. Old-school paper style. There are 6 things on it. One of them is a collaboration and one is a small coloring book page, so not a whole quilt. The others…one is this big piece that I’ve been drawing since early April. Then potentially three more big ones. Insert laughing here. That ain’t happening. Granted the due dates go out to November, but two realistically. Or draw something smaller. Less complicated.

Anyway, in other news, I will be back at Gallery D in Barrio Logan on Sunday from 1-3 for the artists’ talk on the Feminism Now show, so if you’re interested in hearing from all the women who made the work, show up!

email invite


May 24, 2016

I’m listening to this right now…

That word misfit. “All I had to do was be a voice to the story.” Telling the story can save your life. Funny that word misfit. I used the word “alienated” when I was living in Britain, because I so obviously didn’t belong, but honestly, there are times now, here in my own country, when I feel the same. Anyway. The art. It saves me.

Puppy was a barking beast Sunday night, so yesterday was full of my tired and student crazy. Some days you just wonder what’s going on in their heads. Classroom management is a moving target. Behaviors are awesome, and then they degrade into looney tunes.

So I was exhausted enough to nap briefly on the couch when I got home, with girlchild on the other couch, a cat on my chest, a dog perched on my hip. Then I managed to get my butt off the couch and take the big dog for a fast walk…she and I booked it around the 3 miles. Girlchild is still recovering from her existence, so I left puppy with her. Funny that one of the things I was looking forward to when I got home was the girlchild cooking, but I cooked last night. And then spent another hour trying to get the boychild’s room done…he comes home tomorrow. No, it’s still not done, but it will be. I’m close.

So what to do after that? Between projects…your brain just sort of flails a bit. Does a lot of “I don’t wanna” and “Don’t make me…” until I make it. I need this drawing to be done so I can go on to the next stage. An hour later…

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I added a homeless woman, a series of cocoons and butterflies of unknown origin, and poppies. The right side is probably done. I think I might have something on the left wrap around the column in the middle, but I haven’t figured that out yet. There’s a space above the butterfly that bugs me.

And once that’s done, I’ll spend an hour (at least) numbering it. That’s probably not happening tonight. But maybe. Today is the start of frog dissections, so it’s two long hard exhausting days. I’ll be glad when it’s over. I love showing the kids the parts and how they all fit together, but the managing of all the stuff and getting through the whole lab with enough time left over for clean up makes it a difficult day.

But the good news is that I’m close to getting the next project started…although I’m half debating doing another smaller one. No. NO. You are going to do the big hard heavy one and then you will feel better about getting the next one on the list done, and maybe you’ll have time for a small one in between. Seriously, this project is daunting. It feels huge. Except it probably isn’t any more huge than the big one I did last year. So whatever. Just do it.

What’s Next?

May 22, 2016

So the first kid comes home today. Her room was relatively clean, but I didn’t wash her bedding after she left because I did that when she left in August and then her cat puked all over the clean stuff. So I waited this time, and sure enough, there was puke. Damn cat. So I just need to make her bed. So the cat can puke on it.

Boychild’s room is the one where I dumped all the stuff from my office. I spent about 3 hours dealing with it yesterday, and I’m down to a manageable pile. He comes home Wednesday, so I have a little more time.

So it seems I spent most of yesterday doing my favorite thing (cough)…cleaning. Seriously, there were many hours of it. Then I finally sat down and started sewing a binding on the most recent quilt, still unnamed. In fact, both of the last two, finished within hours of each other, are unnamed. Working on it.

This was the view last night…quilt on my lap, sewing binding. Simba right next to me (better than earlier when he was ON me and trying to bite the quilt. Um. No. Then Midnight sprawled further down on the couch.

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Here she is finished, a little over 34 hours to make her.

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Need official photos, but think I will wait until the next smaller one is done. Plus the embroidery on the orange one.

Here’s the next one hanging up. I could start quilting it today.

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Quilting is pretty brainless for me. Easy peasy. Don’t have to think or plan and really do anything but move the fabric around under the needle. Try not to hit the hand. This quilt top is so old, I don’t know how old it is. Might be 2006. Might predate the world. NO! I found it…May 12, 2006. It was on my old blog. Yes, I’ve been blogging since the dark ages. Why do you ask?

It’s my art journal in many ways. TEN years to finish a quilt. Yeah. Well. Shit happens.

Speaking of finishing, the section in the middle is all I have on this drawing before I can (deep breath) NUMBER it and determine exactly how crazy I am.

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And since it’s next on the list, I should do that this week too. I know in general what I want in there. I just don’t know what that looks like or how it will fit. That’s the issue. It’s OK. I’ll get there. And this one won’t take 10 years. The other quilt sat around because it really was just a mental experiment, something to do when my brain wouldn’t settle down on anything. It’s like a drawing, but freehand with fabric. This drawing has been sitting around in this state for a while now, since May 2. It has 9 hours of drawing in it…well, more than that, because the first bit was in a sketchbook. So probably 11 hours. For those who have seen this quilt…


Wise Choice…for the Earth Stories exhibit…it was a 13-hour drawing. Anyway. Moving on. I have about 17 errands (again, must be a weekend during the school year) and grading to do, plus I’d better make the girlchild’s bed. After all that, I can decide what to work on next.

Pushed Out of Line

May 21, 2016

Some things about my life have changed drastically in the last 5 years, and some, not so much. I still love to draw when I’m out in the world, at a restaurant, in a bar, whatever. The quilt I’m about to finish was drawn on a plane. The big ones don’t usually start in a restaurant or somewhere like that…they start on the couch, TV on, legs up, surrounded by furry beasts. I like the ones that are small enough to go in the larger sketchbook. This huge one that has occupied the light table for weeks now is overwhelming. Exciting, but overwhelming.

So last night, I was watching a band and I had eaten my food and was watching really bad dancing by old people (OK, some of them are my age, but they are old dancers…). So drawing seemed the logical thing to do. I started one but it was awful. And then I did this…

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She has mountains in her hair. And that’s a mighty cool plane there. And trees on her boobs. Someone said that the people sitting around me must be scared. Mostly they ignore me. Sometimes they stare and then get embarrassed if I catch them. Occasionally they tell me how cool it is. But whatever. That’s not why I do it. I do it because I’m out listening to music and hanging out and it’s relaxing. So a Friday night after a hard week and a particularly difficult day…makes sense to get the pen and paper out. If I’d stayed home, I would have graded stuff, and really, the drawing was a better option.

When I got home, it wasn’t quite bed time, so I pulled this one out. The binding was done, but I needed to sew the sleeves down…

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So this drawing was done somewhere between 2010-12 in my smallest sketchbook, probably at a soccer game or in a restaurant, waiting for dinner. I enlarged a bunch of them back in 2013 because I wanted to make some smaller quilts, both because they’re faster and because I needed some for shows that don’t want big work. I’ve been working my way through the smaller ones, but I cut out three at the same time…this one, Nakedman, and (shit, what was the third one…). Funny, I know there were three. Nakedman was finished in February 2013. Eyeball Tree might have been the third one, finished in June 2012…which would mean I enlarged them in 2012. Believable. I have a blog. I bet I could check that.

Found it! June 2012…there were originally FOUR of them, Eyeball Tree (2012) and Feeding Time (2011…uh oh, revise the timeline again) were done and so I moved on to the second two, finishing Nakedman in 2013. So the drawings are probably from 2010. And in 2011, I copied stuff (sheesh…), and then I made one in 2011, one in 2012, one is 2013, and now one finally finished in 2016. Seriously, it had been hanging around in the studio, ironed onto the background, for three years apparently. So I stitched it down, quilted it, and bound it…and it’s finally done. I don’t know what I think about it, and it doesn’t have a real name yet, AND it needs embroidery (those are salt and pepper shakers). So I guess it’s not QUITE done. Close though.

Sometimes quilts get pushed out of the line and then I never finish them, or it’s years later. This is one of those. There’s another one ready to quilt that I don’t even think exists in my task managing app. This last one was in there, minus the first two parts. So I could guess the timeline. But the other one must be much older. It’s before I was drawing patterns. I guess the good news for them is that I eventually get around to finishing them, even when they get pushed out of line.

Anyway, so that was last night. Today I have a ton of cleaning to do because both kids are coming home in the next few days. Plus the house is just a mess. And grading. And some other time-consuming stuff. Hopefully I’ll get some art time in as well, because it makes me feel better. Less stressed. Happier. All good.


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