Mahna Mahna*

September 29, 2016

Ah. Hello morning. Painful. Yesterday. Sheesh. I’ll talk about it later. It could have been worse. Currently the little yappy dog is barking at the Mexican parrots in the trees outside. OR there’s a mountain lion at the door. Let me check. Nope. Just parrots.

So with yesterday being a bit more crazy and stressful than usual, I came home and eventually got the dogs harnessed up and walked for three miles. Sometimes that’s what you have to do for sanity. Just walk out the toxic shit. So I did.

And then I came back and graded for a while, because grades are due next week, and besides, I’m a teacher, and all we do is lesson plan and grade stuff. Oh yeah. And teach.

My brain was mush. Truly. I thought about drawing. Nope. Brain not into it. I thought about starting to trace Wonder Under, but I was physically tired, so standing sounded painful. I came in here and submitted the coloring book for review. And then I remembered the owl. Poor thing. He’s been lying around for ages, waiting for a human interaction.

Seriously, I’ve had the background fabric since August. And this is a commission and she’s very patiently allowed me to get other shit done. So last night, I ironed him down…

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I should tell you, this guy is tiny…maybe 8 or 9″ across.

Then I stitched him down.

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It’s so nice to work on a small easy project after a big complicated one. Everything is so fast and easy.

Then I sandwiched and pinbasted…

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And then I acknowledged my tiredness and went to bed.

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So he’s ready to be quilted…although I don’t think I have the right thread for the background, so I’ll have to think about that. I don’t have time to get any today…so it will have to be tomorrow.

This spider was attached to the outside of my car (apparently…I didn’t see it when I got in) from school all the way to my ex’s house, where I pick up the dog. When I was driving, he was being thrown around so much that I thought he was dead. I’m calling it a he? That level of strength…obviously a she.

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I’m fascinated by spiders, but they do creep me out. In the house, they die…by cat or puppy or shoe or water. I don’t care. I protect my boundaries (yes, I know they are still here, living in the corners, but if I SEE one…that’s it.). But this one, I took a stick and gently knocked her off my car (at my ex’s house…not mine) and let her live, because first of all, I just drove her 3 miles away from her first home (unless she was on my car from my house to school as well) and second, because she’s tough as hell for surviving that ride. She deserves another chance. But not on my car.

*Cake…or the Muppets…or Sesame Street, Mahna Mahna


I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good*

September 28, 2016

So instead of just working on the next project (which actually has two parts), I decided to do two at a time. Not really. But last night, I did work on both. One isn’t due until December, so it’s not a rush at all. But it needs more drawing, and sometimes I feel like drawing more than I feel like anything else, so it’s good to have it at a stage where I can do that. The original drawing has actually been lying around for a month or so.

Anyway, after a long parent meeting in a foreign language where we tried desperately to get dad to understand that this kid needs help way beyond our personal abilities (I really hate the law sometimes…I get why it’s there, but it can hogtie us), I came home and actually napped. I always worry when that happens…although I remember coming home from school on the days my mom did her nursing volunteer work and she’d be flat out on the couch, the book folded open on her chest, sound asleep. So maybe being almost 50 and on my feet all day, and then in an hour-long intense meeting, maybe that’s a legit reason to need a nap. I only got 12 minutes, though, so don’t get excited. Because dogs. So I graded. Because I need to catch up. And I entered another show. Because that’s why I’m doing these crazy deadlines.

So I knew what I needed to figure out next…is that figure going to be big enough for what I want? There’s only one way to find out…fold out the damn cot…lay the drawing out…

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So there’s an argument for life size, which this is not. But I can visualize the sheet and I think it will be what I want…so back to the drawing board. I cut out the cat that was on there. And then I found one of the cats I did last year that I liked. There’s the original drawing, obviously too big for this.

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Meanwhile. Dogs. Sigh. They need more people around them. I did throw things for them…not as much as usual, but a little.

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So I drew a new cat. Much better. And more realistic…

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Not that realism is what I’m usually going for. And then I drew a new baby.

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I think that’s much better. So then I numbered the whole thing…and there were only 200 pieces. Wow. Seriously. That’s doable. Even with all those tiny baby parts.

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So now I need to trace it on Wonder Under…but I also need to finish the owl first. So tonight, that’s what I’m going to do. Assuming I don’t fall asleep on the couch. I’m also going to try to get the coloring book into a final stage. Ugh.

So then what next? Well I had this other drawing, the one for the December deadline, and the cat had puked on part of it before I taped it together, so I didn’t know if I’d need to recopy part of it. So I was already standing and cutting and taping…why not keep going?

One of the problems with this drawing was that giant scary bird. That thing needed to go.

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So I taped the whole thing together, cutting out puked-on pieces of paper and giant scary-ass birds. And I got this.

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She’s not done. Obviously. Well, maybe to me. But if I feel like drawing, she’s there waiting for me.

So yeah. Gotta go deal with an early school meeting. And the aftermath of a local shooting that will hit national news…and rightfully so. Another WTF moment. I wish I could figure out what would fix all that crazy. I’m pretty sure we can’t just move all the clueless people who can’t see the light to an island somewhere. But I guess in El Cajon, you don’t call the police for help, unless you want to get shot. Sigh. Giant-ass sigh.

*The Animals, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood


This Is Heaven to No One Else but Me*

September 27, 2016

Still in that weird wiggle space in between projects. I managed to go enlarge a drawing I did a while back that was a pre-drawing for the bed project…

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It’s at 300%…the sheet is going to be a real sheet…which ought to be interesting, if she’s lying on it. I need to redraw baby. I need to probably redraw cat (although I might just use one of the drawings I did when I made all those cat quilts). I need to decide if it’s big enough. I can’t decide whether to go more life size or not. This is a bit smaller. Hopefully I will decide tonight. It might require me to open the cot back up.

Actually, that was the last thing I did last night…first I sewed on three quilt labels…well, I think I sewed one on the night before. Then I dehaired two of the quilts and cut slats and dowels and rolled them up and got them all ready to ship. Plus made labels for that and the boxes I’m sending to the kids. Kitten was not helpful.

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Then I came out and colored the cover for the coloring book…

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The point is not to color the whole thing. This is not my drawing…it’s Kathi McCord’s. She doesn’t have a website at the moment, but she draws awesomely. We picked her for the cover.

I was too lazy to get up and sharpen any of the pencils, so I only used stuff that had already been sharpened.

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Then I went back in the office and uploaded all the corrected pictures and the cover and it all checks out. So hopefully tonight I can figure out the last bit of it, the part where they actually MAKE the damn books. Plus I have two extra pages I can’t figure out how to get rid of, thanks to the damn template they gave me. Whatever. I’m looking forward to making my own version of a coloring book, if it turns out OK. I hope it turns out OK. It would suck if it doesn’t.

Anyway, there’s progress. I do need to do a ton of grading still (always), so I know that will be happening tonight as well. I do pay the price if I go all out on an art quilt for days on end. I need to find a balance, but always feel like it skews toward work more than art. Which sucks.

What I really want to do is draw. Huh. Time. Sigh.

*Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere


Maybe I Have Been Here Before*

September 26, 2016

I seriously thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish the last quilt in time. Although I did the first drawing in June, I didn’t start tracing Wonder Under until August 9, the same day I finished the binding and inking on the last one. I meant for this one to be smaller, but I think it ended up being about 39″ w x 73″ h (I should check that before I roll it up with the others)…and had over 1200 pieces. Finished September 23, which wouldn’t be that amazing if I weren’t working full time…as a teacher…at the very start of school. I remember I used to leave the big quilts until summer, because it was too hard to focus on them during the school year. Of course, some of that is because the kids aren’t here any more, so I don’t have to worry about their school and personal stuff as well as my own (or apparently sleep or food). That helps. But still…I kept mentally planning the quilt out, each stage, how much time I would need, and I never got it done on time in my head.

I’m not sure knowing I can do that level of crazy is a good thing. I let a lot of balls drop, and now I’m trying to find them all, get them back in the air. And I have drawings clamoring to be made as well. Aack. So the panicked feeling of not having it all under control is still there.

But here she is…

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

I have a name, but I’m not sure I like it yet. Still mulling it over…

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The overlapping arms…

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Yeah, she’s scared.

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She’s not…

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It’s got a lot of detail in it, although not as much as the last one…

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On Saturday morning, I had three places I needed to fix…one was this arm…I’d forgotten to outline the right side of it…

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And then last night, I started on the three labels I need to make. I have to ship two quilts in the next day or so…

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Making labels and sewing them on has been on my to-do list since Labor Day…which was just like yesterday, right? I swear, September just flew by.

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Saturday, I had 7 errands on my list…and I did them all in one huge loop. Two of the things on there I’m still working on…

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And Saturday night gave me this choice. Trust me, I really wanted bears, but my group voted on beers.

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I’m tossing the sketchbook in the car to copy the drawing for the next one. I’m going to have to cut out one part of it and redo it, but I was going to redraw the whole thing, and that’s not necessary. It’s a good base drawing. And I have a sheet for the bottom part. It’s all gonna get done on time…although technically I think it’s supposed to be done this week (not happening). Whatever. I’ve finished 7 quilts so far this year…on one, the top was already done and it had been lying around for ages. But of the other 6, only one was small. So I’m rocking this year. Good thing.

*Rufus Wainwright, Hallelujah (one of my favorite songs in the world)


I Bleed It Out*

September 24, 2016

OK. So I’m in this weird place between pieces. You know when you finish one, take a deep breath (and I can’t do that yet, because there are three things I need to fix on it, plus I have to do the final iron and dehair for the photographer…once I finish this post), and then you’re flailing a bit…like WTF do I do next? Man I wish I had time for that sentiment at the moment. In reality, I have one that technically is supposed to be done next week (ha! It’s OK…really, I don’t have to finish it until the end of October), another collaboration with the same deadline (also not happening), and then the deadlines mellow out. A bit. Not really, because I have that awesome solo show next July and I need to make things for that. Before March. I think. And there’s one for December, but honestly, December sounds like it’s a million miles away at the moment. It’s OK. I know it’s not. But my brain is resting a bit with the lack of urgency. Don’t worry. It’ll get back there. Plus I have school kicking my butt.

But you know that place. You fold up the quilt you just finished and you pat it once or twice, look around the studio and think, oh god, this place is a mess, and start to tidy. And then hopefully by the time you’re done, the next project is nicely settled in place, ready to go. I know for most of you, that’s not how it works. You take days, weeks, sometimes even months between projects. But I was talking to my counselor about this, that the one thing that saved me after the last breakup and the kids leaving for college was my ability to MAKE…and not just to make, but to throw myself so deeply in it that I was lost, that I couldn’t even feel the bad shit weighing on me. It was the one place I found peace. And it’s often hard to leave that place…to go out into the world. Even though I know I need to do that…not just for work and food, but to socialize, so I don’t hermit more than I already do.

So I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my online quilt art friends at Quilt National, because some of the ones I’ve never met will be there…but also hopefully to make it in time for the opening this time (my flight got canceled last time). Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I have three quilts this weekend that need labels and two that need shipping right away. The other can wait a week or so. And the school workload is crazy. So that. Plus finishing the coloring book. And I don’t even know what else is on the list I started writing last night.

So I sat down last night and finished sewing sleeves on.

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I got into the habit of sewing on bottom and top sleeves on all my quilts…they hang better that way. In fact, in the photo below, the quilt you can just see the bottom of? It needs a bottom sleeve so it will hang better. Maybe someday I’ll do that, but since it’s pretty much aged out of the exhibition circuit, probably not. There’s a black cat in that photo too. Basically whenever I sit on the couch to sew or cut, I get surrounded.

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I knew this quilt would need ink. I just like how it separates sections.

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Some just have a little ink. Some none. This one had an hour and a half of ink.

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That’s kind of a lot…but hands. Overlapping.

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And I debated the rocks…but couldn’t stop.

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You can’t just ink one. Anyway. She’s done. She has a name even, but I’ll wait until I have official photos. I think it’s been a while since I updated the Recent Work section on the website. Oh yeah. Like April. OK. So that’s on my list when I get these photos back.

What’s funny is that I always try to make a new quilt for Visions and Quilt National when they come up. I don’t really worry about whether they get in, because it just motivates me to make a big complicated quilt every year. Really, every summer, I do it anyway. But in the old days, when I only made one big one a year, that was my motivation. For the big shows. The big shows I never get into. So I made one for QN. And it didn’t get in. Which is totally OK, because the one that did was made for ANOTHER show, and it didn’t get into that one. So it all works out in the end.

The dogs in the morning…waiting for me to get my act together and put them where they belong for the day.

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And because I know you wanted to see the branch that came down in the night…in the daylight…it ain’t small…

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Gotta do something about that. Probably soon. Sigh.

Oh and I hadn’t opened the most recent SAQA Journal (been a busy month). Someone had told me about the cover before I received it (Jill Kertulla’s baby being born), which is awesome. But then I looked and the Turmoil exhibit was in there. Over the years, I’ve kind of gotten used to having exhibits in magazines and NOT being in there, although a few have popped up. But usually the nudity throws them out.

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But not only did they put in Jill’s Baby Quilt above, but they put in my Goddess of Never-Ending Chaos. Full on vulva shot folks. I wonder if SAQA gets complaints.

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I hope not. I guess we’ll see how this exhibit travels. At least mine isn’t alone in it’s female part goodness. Hopefully that will help. I won’t be in Houston to see this exhibit, unfortunately, but maybe it will come out to California some time.

OK. I need to really finish that quilt (just need one line I missed and two places that need to be sewn down better. And then prep for photographer. And then head in the game for the next one.

*Linkin Park, Bleed It Out


Hello Ohio…

September 23, 2016

So it took me a while to process this, but I got into Quilt National. In fact, I read the email at school and thought, wait a minute, what? Because I had just looked at all the upcoming deadlines and notifications, and figured it would be a while before I would know anything. And this is the coolest part…it’s a quilt with multiple female organs in it. You know, boobs! And uteri! It’s not a pretty, easy quilt. So I did a tiny happy dance in the halls at school, and then flipped the bird with both hands at AQS. Well not really, because there were kids in the hall. But mentally.

Now I just need to figure out how to get to the opening. Minor issue.

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It’s cool though. I’m really happy. It’s one thing to get in once with a quilt that has no nudity in it (I know, you didn’t even know I had those…), but to get in a second time with two angry Earth Mothers? I’m good.

Meanwhile, this quilt is going to the photographer tomorrow and I’m still sewing bindings…

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With all the animals around. Actually, I finished the bindings and I’m on the sleeves…

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But I hit some exhaustion line again last night (must listen to body)…

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Although looking around me, I’m the only one NOT asleep. So yeah.

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More murals…there are two here. The one on the right is by Cinzah. It’s about “the impact of the global shark finning trade on shark populations. An estimated 1000,000,000 sharks are killed for their fins every year. Over the past 15 years, shark populations have decreased by 60-90%.” So extinction?

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Plus his sharks are adorable.

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I think so.

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Especially these two.

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And this guy…

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The other part of the mural is by n30n3, an artist from Mexico focusing on the importance of ocean exploration and discovery…

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It’s a really long wall…

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And the light was difficult…

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So that’s two today because I missed one today.

Now I’m going to go teach about elements and keep doing a little art dance.


We Can Dance if We Want to*

September 21, 2016

It’s still raining. This confuses us here in Southern California. Constant water from the sky? The world is ending? It’s good for the plants, though, so I’ll roll with it. And honestly, I was in a training all day yesterday and will be again today, so I don’t have to deal with students and rain, and that’s a good thing.

The training is for the sex ed program I teach every year. This is my 3rd run through the training, which has now stretched to two days instead of one. And honestly, I don’t need it. There’s a few things they’ve given us that might be useful, but one of those is the notebook with all the updated stuff and some videos online. You could just hand me those. There’s a few new topics and we’ve finally been given the OK to blatantly talk about birth control, instead of sneaking it into the questions at the end of class, so that’s a plus. Besides, really, I’m OK with sitting through two days of training just to guarantee that the teachers who blow this stuff off are actually going to be required to teach about LGBTQ issues. So there we are. But otherwise, yeah, this is going to be my 15th year teaching this unit. Not scared of it. We’ll revise a few things, but otherwise…and the idea to split the unit into 7th and 8th grade, I brought it up with my district…so what do we think we can wait until the end of 8th grade to tell them about reproduction and protection and all this stuff? Because for some of it, even the end of 7th grade is too late.

So that’s what I’m doing all day. And yeah, I graded last night, although I have to tell you, I’m a little frustrated with kids not following instructions. The first unit is kicking butts left and right. OK. So when I hand it back, there’s going to be some discussion.

And then instead of finishing a whole class of grading the unit, I gave up. I really wanted to get the binding on last night, so I cleaned the floor again (muddy dog footprints from the rain) and got started…

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Unfortunately, she was a bitch to trim. Part of it was that the hills etc. weren’t exactly straight. When I iron stuff together, shockingly, it isn’t always perfect. But I fussed with it for a while and finally got it where I needed it to be. I love the quilts that trim perfectly the first time. This was not one of those.

I got the binding and sleeves on, top and bottom. These quilts hang better with a slat in the bottom as well.

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That blue and yellow star fabric has been in my stash for a million years. Seriously, since the 90s. People always want to know how long I’ve been doing this. I took my first quilt class at the age of 23 in 1990…and I moved into more arty quilts pretty quickly, although I think my first official art quilt wasn’t made until 1999. I was futzing around with techniques before then. Even then, I made quilts completely differently. In 2000, I actually hand-appliqued an entire (small) art quilt. It took forever. In 2001, I got to the system I use now, mostly. I started small with very few pieces…and now, well, I’m a little crazy with piece counts and size.

Anyway, I pinned everything back. Yup. I still sew them by hand. I have a few quilts where I didn’t, and I prefer how these look. I’m a little old school sometimes.

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I started hand sewing them. And I emailed my photographer. This one will need ink too.

So the rain thing is really upsetting Simba. Every time I’ve tried to put him out to use the facilities, he’s run back to the door. I guess water is terrifying. Amusing, since I bathed him yesterday…damn fleas this year are heinous.

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After his bath, he ran around psychotically, rubbing his whole tiny body over the carpet (well, I guess we’ll be killing the fleas in the carpet too)…and then settled down behind my dinner companion (it was safer there).

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Poor puppy.

This is the next mural in the Sea Walls excursion from last weekend; this one is still in the North Park/Hillcrest area. It faces someone’s house…probably nicer to look at than a blank wall…

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This one is by Gloria Muriel, whose murals I have photographed before. I haven’t found online yet where the artists explain how their work is related to the ocean project, although this is obviously water…nice water molecule shown on the forehead…I only know some because I saw stuff on Instagram.

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Anyway. Nice mural. Yes. I still want to grow up and be a mural painter. So there.

I do need to start getting serious about the next quilt project though. Aack.

*Men Without Hats, Safety Dance