Take a Break

I just got an email about a call for artists: the gallery is charging $40/entry for an online exhibit. Online. No catalog. Just online. This after two rejections last night. It’s OK. Rejection is part of the game. If you enter, you will be rejected more often than you are accepted. It’s normal. And more people entered than they were expecting. So there’s that. But I’m not willing to turn around and shell out more money (yes, every entry costs money, and not a small amount of it…remember shows with $10 and $15 entry fees? Proof that I am old.) for a show that only exists online. The gallery is nonprofit…usually entry fees pay jurors and provide food and drink for openings, plus keeping the gallery open and staffed. What is this entry fee for except the jurors? It’s not even on the gallery’s website? I don’t understand.

I get to this stage every once in a while, where I’m tired of paying out fees for themes that are just difficult for me to get my head around or for show after show where I can’t get in. It’s OK…then I just make a bunch of work and then eventually something gets in or some new opportunity pops up that doesn’t cost me any money (those are always nice, aren’t they?). I say that as I’m working on a piece for a show with a theme and probably a fee. Ah well. I’ll finish it and then see where my head is at. Right now, it’s hard to know where my head is at. The man is planning to start hiking again tomorrow. He’s been icing his knee (and his beer) at Kennedy Meadows since Friday, trying to decide whether or not to keep going. The knee has not stopped hurting, mind you, despite the rest. Meanwhile, I’m in a bit of limbo over some projects that need to start and scheduling some things, because I don’t know if I will need to (a) still meet him at Kearsarge Pass or (b) come pull him off the trail again. So I do cross things off the list and let a few things just sit there, waiting. I’m still tired…still occasionally grinding my teeth…still in recovery mode. Not sure when all that improves.

Actually, it kind of helps to write the blog and realize how many things I’m working on…so on Friday, I continued outline quilting on the 20-year-old quilt…

Which will eventually need a better name…but I did finish the outlining…

And started the background quilting, which is going to take a while. But it’s started.

I also did some ironing to fabric on the current quilt made for a themed show that will cost money to enter. This is my view while ironing, watching a recorded Zoom of something textile-related.

Can’t remember what. Picking out the sky fabrics here…this was Friday night, I think?

I lose track. Actually, I think it was a Zoom meeting. I had two on Friday and then I watched the recorded talk.

And then on Saturday night, I finished the rest of the ironing for this quilt and organized all the fabrics by color…

I used 99 fabrics and it took 9 hours and 45 minutes to pick them all and iron them to fabric. In general, this is a very muted quilt. The bright colors are in a few small locations. It’ll be interesting to see it all ironed together.

Then last night, I started trimming the pieces…

I haven’t gotten very far…the top left box is all trimmed. The bottom box is to-be-trimmed. It’s gonna be a while.

On Saturday night, when I was done ironing (which was pretty early), I finished up the hand-stitching on this piece, which I’ve been working on for a very long time. How long?

Hmmm. Looks to be around January 11 of this year that I started this. Not bad…I thought it was last year. Only 6 months. Honestly, it’s been almost done for a while. And it’s really not even almost done…everything is just stitched down and I got rid of all the pins. I actually want all of these (there are four now) to have a lot more hand sewing.

I did the first one, bottom left, in February or so of 2020…and the other two after that. They are from Anna Maria Horner shipments, using only the fabrics she sent that month. Hence the crazy combinations. I like them though. It’s a different kind of challenge. There are 6 shipments a year, so I didn’t finish last year’s quite, and now I have two…no three more this year. One just arrived and I cut the background fabric out already and it’s waiting…although I think there is a cat lying on it. Maybe someday I will finish these. Who knows. Maybe they are like sketchbook drawings…just little workings of the brain when other stuff is too hard.

On Saturday, I also went to an actual in-person meeting (outside, in a park, where I got sunburned again in a weird pattern on my back because I thought it was all covered up, but I was stitching and so I was bent over and…duh). It was one of my quilt guilds…and I worked on Sue Spargo’s Homegrown, finishing the third of four blocks for March.

Look! People! In a group! I know. It makes me nervous unless it’s outside. We’ll see how that goes in the future.

Ah yes, and I finished stitching hangers and a label on this one, so it’s off to it’s new owner later this month.

Took forever to finish this one…mostly my fault…combined with school and sewing machine issues. See, I did do a lot…plus bought shelves for the deck for plants to block the neighbor noise and view…working on the plants and pots part. Need more of both.

On Saturday, I hiked a little over 5 miles…it was hot. This is a kite…a bird kite, not a manmade one.

It’s a bird I only see at Sweetwater. Looks like a hawk but mostly white and a little gray. Stared at me.

I didn’t see anyone else out there. Granted, I was hiking during the dinner hour, I think, and it was warm even then.

There’s a lot of flowers still blooming.

I like hiking by myself mostly…

I do listen to music…

I wanted to go further, but the parking lot closes…

Sweetwater River Trail? Or Reservoir? Not sure.

Finally got to the water.

And then headed back…I like this succulent, although I’ve never been able to get it to grow from a cutting.

I don’t take it out of wild parks…just from side of the road bits where I can pick a leaf or a stem.

Maybe I should just figure out what it is and find it somewhere legit that costs money.

Lots of cat pictures…Nova cleaning Luna while I was trying to nap.

I did not nap. Luna then got cranky and started a fight.

Not nap friendly.

When I got back from the hike, Kitten decided my hat was a sleeping space.


Nova checking out the living room last night…

So today…I’m in a Zoom, watching some art stuff, plus trying to write this. Then I should quilt some more, cut some more, walk some more, and IDK what else. I have a list. Fill the hummingbird feeders. Do some yard work. I need a list for that. I should do that. I should just take a break from expectations, right? Yeah, I’m not very good at that. I’ll keep trying. Without the fees and the rejections, yeah? Don’t enter; you won’t get rejected. But if your work needs to get out there, then you will have to take that chance, spend the money, get it out there.

Good Wontons

My to-do list is still long, but it’s all house- and yard-related…and art. All good things and/or things that need doing. Calling an electrician is on my list for today. Not my favorite thing to deal with, but we’ve accumulated some electrical needs over the last year and I think it’s time. Installations and replacements…need to get done. We’re also rearranging the plant material on the deck and adding some new shelves to try to block more of the neighbors’ pool and kid noise. Probably not really possible to block the noise, but I want to try. But it means I need a lot more plants and smaller or shallower pots for the shelves. I’m starting by looking around my own property…I have lots of empty pots lying around and just need to find, move, add dirt, and locate plants. There’s plenty of work that needs doing…just trimming and weeding would take tons of time…add in planting and moving shit around. I also need to clean out my closet this summer. Really not looking forward to that. Everyone I know did it during COVID, but I didn’t feel motivated. I don’t really feel motivated now, except that I need more room and there’s only one way to get that. Get rid of stuff! Not a bad plan.

Last night was the first one with an empty house again…boychild at his dad’s, man on the trail. Just me and three cats, who were surprisingly quiet. Right now, one of them, Ms. Adventurous, is kamikazing through my fabric in the office as I type, tryna make trouble. The dogs aren’t here yet, so she’s just exploring. For Luna, exploring means knocking stuff over. This room needs organization and cleanup for sure. I have a remodeling plan for this room, and I technically could afford to do it this summer, but I’m not dealing with remodeling this year. Maybe next summer. It needs a new floor and shelves and the wallpaper gone and the popcorn ceiling gone. Lots of work. The work is moving everything OUT of the room (oh god) and then moving it back in. Terrifying thought. Not one I can handle this year.

So artwise, I have a list that I have kept copying over and over, every day, into my bullet journal since my machine had to go into the shop in March. I was on a roll and then I wasn’t. Then I had a deadline and everything else got pushed out of the way. One of the things that got pushed was this little commission…this is the one my machine died on.

All it needed was the quilting and a finish. So I finished the quilting on Monday night…

And I trimmed it and finished the edge as well…I just need a hanging device on the back and a little label, and it’s done.

There are two more here that are in various stages that need finishing…one at the quilting stage and one at the stitchdown stage. So that’s one of my goals for this week. Not necessarily finishing them, but progressing on them at least.

Then obviously I’m working on the next deadline…

It’s another climate change quilt. I’m a little obsessed, I guess. It’s also pollution and general human wastage of the land.

But because of the design, I need to keep all the colors muted. This is very hard for me.

I have to keep reminding myself to put down the bright colors. There are some small sections that will be bright, but mostly this is a muted quilt. The pieces are small…so it doesn’t look like much. I’m actually not sure how far I am, because I keep pulling from later bins. I know I’m in the 100s, but have ironed a chunk of 200s, 300s, and even a few 400s. It’s looking good so far, at least in my mind.

Kitten likes to sleep in the green fabric drawer.

No, that’s not the only green fabric drawer. There are way too many green fabric containers.

Kitten basically follows me wherever I go. This is when I was reading on the couch.

She’s kneading the blanket. She’s very happy.

The other two are adjusting to their dad being gone again.

They’re back to sleeping with me at night and finding me for food reminders. Hey lady! Feed me. Pet me.

We also walked the little dog…

It was hot. You can tell by his tongue shadow. More of that to come, I’m sure. We leave the old lady behind. She likes walks but can’t go very far.

It’s summer, so it’s all about exercise. Here was my second trip to the gym since March 2020.

It’s nice. I missed it. Yes, I’m still wearing a mask. Don’t trust people or variants. So yeah, my exercise plan for the summer is gym, pilates, and hiking. All good.

And on Monday, the boychild and I made one of my favorite meals, time-consuming as all hell.

Can you guess which pan I did and which pan the boychild did? Hint: I’m not neat at anything I do.

They taste good either way. And I get about 4 meals out of my batch. Totally worth it. I just don’t generally have time for it during the school year. Tomorrow, I’m doing lasagne from scratch…same deal. Lots of time in it, but tastes so good. And then I can freeze it and eat it on those nights when I’m the only one here. Maybe not ALL those nights, but some of them.

Good stuff.

OK, it’s late morning now. I did eat and do some stuff this morning…not that I remember what I did, but I did it! I’m still in recovery mode, y’all. It takes at least a week after school gets out before I relocate my brain and start to function well. I have more errands today and even book club tonight. More ironing of fabrics will happen, more reading, more quilting hopefully, and more plant-related stuff. All trying to remember what it looks like to NOT be an incredible stress monkey because of my day job. The last year completely burnt out my brain. I need a break. Planting things and fixing things and ironing things and sewing things…all help. So do good wontons.

This Is My Day Off

Yeah. Some president gifted me this day so I could have extra time to grade stuff without having to try to do it during the work day. I do that too. Kids are completing work, asking me questions, typing in the chat, fucking around on Roblox or YouTube INSTEAD of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m answering questions, typing in the chat, shutting down Roblox and YouTube, but also encouraging everyone to finish ALL THE THINGS, all the while trying to grade the easier, less-brain-encompassing assignments on the other computer. Jumping between tabs on a slow-ass Chromebook the school gave me. The teacher Mac is slightly faster, but not by much. I need a third one that works at the speed of light. What are they giving me instead? Another monitor. So I can have two laptops and two extra monitors to WATCH things. And try to bounce between things, which is already an issue for me. ANYWAY. I have found that there are some things that need my full attention for grading: anything for an academic grade that is more than two sentences OR anything that is artistic and requires some sort of holistic analysis of effort and craftsmanship. Cannot do either of those while doing anything else. Usually I need a rubric up on one screen and the document/photo on another. Big screens. Not tiny Chromebook screens. Also can’t do late work particularly easily while teaching…too much bouncing between screens and printouts of gradesheets. So last night, I graded 62 of the 97 pieces of late work that had come in during the last 8 days. I’m still behind. I’m always behind. And now I have an admin semi-hounding me so she can check in with a parent. Sigh. If only the sweet dingbats would turn work in on time. Life would be so smooth.

We’re hiking today. And I’m cooking some semi-complicated dinner (is it? I don’t know if it is…I just know it has lots of ingredients). We’re getting a late start…I didn’t push for an early morning…no need. So there’s that. I’ll grade some more later today, hopefully get my bread started (I keep mistiming it), and get some more art time in.

Friday night, I ironed some pieces from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month to fabric and thought I was missing a piece…

I have plenty of fabric, so I found a green that was similar (minus the dragonflies) and used that. The block of the month is from 2018, so I knew I probably couldn’t get a replacement piece. It’s OK, though, because the next day, during my guild meeting, I figured out that the piece of green was folded under and I just hadn’t noticed. There was plenty of dragonfly fabric there.

It’s possible that I shouldn’t do anything on Friday nights that requires brainpower, y’all.

The rest of Friday night I spent putting fabric away from the last quilt and from some monthly shipments I thought I would use in a certain way and decided to just throw in the stash for general use.

I don’t keep a lot of fabric separated…just some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I need for a quilt I don’t seem to be working on at all. Awkward. But I bought them specifically for that quilt and there’s a ton of Fassett fabrics already in my stash, getting used regularly.

This meant I could start picking fabrics for the new quilt. Good plan. Cleaning is pretty brainless. I like the feeling of clearing the slate for the next piece. Remind me to pick fabrics I haven’t used lately in this new one. I’ve already blown that, I think. Whoops.

Saturday morning was my guild meeting. They are very activity-based, challenge-based. I don’t know how many challenges I can handle besides the real-world ones. I have done a tiny bit of wool quilting for the UFO challenge, but not much. I spent most of the meeting trying to get those Spargo pieces cut out and pinned down.

That space under the computer is useful. Then I did some stitch down on the 4th Applique Stories piece.

It’s relaxing to do this…

Just a different way of putting things together. Maybe someday I’ll finish one. Who knows…it could happen. For a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, I stitched through staff meetings and trainings. Now I work through them, planning, posting shit for classes, basic grading. Sad but true.

I love how flowers always make great boobs.

And hearts…certainly not what the designer intended, but I’m OK with that. I’m continuing with this series into 2021. We’ll see where it goes.

After the guild meeting, I needed to be outside. Too many meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.

I find I don’t get outside enough. And it looks like Spring…recent rains make things green. We came home and I did more outside, watering some, cleaning some, finding the speaker that got lost back in May or June last year…it was under a chair pad, and kudos to Anker, it still works.

It didn’t even need to be charged.

The man and I went out for dinner…facing away from everyone.

It’s a bit of a risk, but one that keeps us sane. We stayed home when the governor told us to, which is why the numbers went down. Probably they’ll be back up in 2-3 weeks because of the Super Bowl, unfortunately. Stupid people and parties.

Speaking of challenges, the SIL has issued one.

Definitely needs doing. Then I’m supposed to pass it on, keep passing until someone doesn’t want to any more, and see how many marks get done. I haven’t had time to pull my own stuff, but it’s on the list. Then maybe I’ll mail the card to the girlchild.

Poor Calli…post Super-Bowl dumbasses shooting guns, we think. Super loud. She doesn’t like it.

She’s old and somewhat deaf, but not deaf enough.

Last night, I finally got around to ironing the small owl commission together that I’ve been working on…

It’s the owl from the last quilt, just by itself. She likes owls. I think this is the third one I’ve done for her? Not sure. Maybe second. I’ve done a lot of owls. I recorded the ironing of it for my Patreon…well, at least most of it. It’ll go out to them next weekend, after I process it.

I toned down the background slightly from that in the original quilt. Something this small needs a different focus than in the big quilt. It’s ironed to a background now that will never be seen, so I’ll do stitch down sometime soon (damn, gonna have to pull that wool quilt off the machine to do that! Or finish it) and get it quilted and bound.

Then I started ironing Wonder Under to fabric on the newest piece…

Didn’t get far before it was midnight. Time slips. But it’s a start. Like I said, I wasn’t very good about picking new fabrics so far, but this was the sand and the sky. I guess I can try harder for the rest of it.

OK, ready to hike! Or something. Then do things.

That’s on Me…

OK, business stuff. First of all, I loaded three more quilt photos on Society 6 here…if there’s something you see on my Gallery or Recent Work page that you want on a poster or a cutting board (really?), let me know. I’ll see if I have the right resolution photo for it. There’s also a link in my sidebar to Society 6 (or you can just search for my name). Wall art is 30% off until midnight tonight and I think your first order is also 20-30% off, if you’ve never used Society6. Just to be straight up, I don’t make a lot of money on the stuff on there, but it is a cheap and easy way for y’all to be able to own my work without being fabulously wealthy. I’m OK with that. When you win the lottery, you can come back and buy the original. You can tell your rich friends to go buy one. Seriously, I just had a phone conversation with a financial planner about my future retirement plans, and I’m panicking (it will be FIIINNNEEE).

Second, I’ve had a couple of commission requests in the last few days. I do commissions, usually small ones, and I’m usually pretty up front with the fact that I’m not cheap. I can’t be. My time is worth something, whether I’m copyediting, teaching, going to conferences (yes, I’m getting paid for some of my time there), or making art. I’m going to respect that and charge for my time. So if you came to me and said, “Hey I’d like one of your quilts, about this size, with these kinds of things in it, and I have this much money”, I’d suggest you go look at my Gallery and Recent Work pages, because sizes and prices are on there. I keep track of my time using an app, so even if a quilt is small, if it’s super complicated with a lot of pieces, it won’t be cheap. This one, And Then There Was One, is smallish…only 16 x 24″, and it’s priced at $2760 because it has 819 pieces and took over 56 hours to make…

Fussy stuff. It was not a commission. But this one was…

It’s only 8×10″ and was a simplified detail from my Mammogram quilt…

Which is 39“ w x 52“ h and $2900…relatively big, but not a whole lot of pieces.

If you’re still interested in a commission, know that my schedule is tight on a good month…right now, I’m running out into November sometime I think. Maybe longer. So I’d put you on the schedule, and then I’d do a drawing for you, usually for a drawing fee. That kind of depends on whether we have a past working relationship…some of my commission people are repeat users. I trust them to pay me. They trust me to hit the range they asked for. The drawing fee is just because once I’ve done that, you might decide, nah, I don’t wanna do this, and I don’t want to be out my time.

If you’re OK with the drawing (and I’ve edited before at that stage for the client), then I will start on the piece, usually with 50% down payment on the estimated total (includes the drawing fee; also depends on previous working relationship). I make the quilt, finish it so you can hang it, and then send it to you. You have a period of time to decide whether you really want it or not. If you don’t, you send it back, and we’re done. I’m partially paid for my time, you didn’t have to pay for all of it, I still own the quilt and can do something with it…maybe…depending on what it is. It is a bit of a risk for both of us, but that’s the wonder of commissions. If you like it, you pay me off and hang the quilt on your wall. Fini! Anyway, feel free to ask me about commissions. I’ve done a few that are pieces of larger quilts…one owl that someone really liked (actually all of my bird quilts are from larger quilts and can be remade) and then that part of the Mammogram quilt.

All that affects my ability to make my own art quilts, so that’s what I’m working on next. I’m debating how to handle it. There’s a show I was planning on entering that has one theme, but I could subvert it to this other theme in my head, but I probably wouldn’t get in. Probably wouldn’t get in anyway, just because I’d already changed it up and away from probably what the juror/curator are thinking. And I want to work with the ideas anyway. So let’s do it! I had started a drawing last week that I really didn’t like, but it was a way to play with the ideas…so last night, I taped big paper together (dangerous…I usually draw too detailed full size and that’s why it’s better to draw it smaller in the sketchbook and then enlarge it) and started sketching stuff out.

So the original unliked drawing is on the left, the larger paper and the revised drawing on the right (they don’t have a lot in common), and then my journal with all the words I had floating around when I was trying to think about all the ideas I wanted to corral in this space. It’s a start. I’ll hopefully work on it tonight some more. I’m gone a good chunk of next week, but if I’m going to get a quilt done by the end of the August, I need to get a significant bit of it done in the next month…before school rears its ugly head. Plus I have a copyediting job coming up.

Meanwhile I’m financial planning and trying to refi the house plus dealing with a road redo and dogs and appointments and all that. I don’t feel relaxed. Nope.

That’s on me.

Dogs. Stitches out Wednesday, then we can bathe her. She’s doing OK, but is definitely recovering slowly. He’s fine. Just a dick.

Well, we’re trying to keep him from licking his leg. She’s not licking anything, so she gets to be cone-free. Ironic, because he has no stitches and she has two batches of them plus shaved legs and side.

This thing is taking so long! I spent another 2 hours last night and did NOT run out of the blue (oh yes, I almost did)…I’m always closer to done but not actually done.

I’ll be stuck in a car for 2+ hours on Sunday and again on Tuesday. Please let it be done. Please let me get a couple more drawn before I leave. I rescheduled one of tomorrow’s events and I’m blowing off one tonight. I need time to get stuff done.

See my neighbor? He’s kind of a dick too.

But cute. Didn’t seem to care that I was out there. He wanted a drink of water. OK cool. You do you.

Today has gone by very quickly. We’re going to walk one of the dogs later, when it cools down a bit. I’m unapologetically ordering pizza for dinner. Cannot deal. I’m going to do some computer stuff that needs doing, try to draw for embroidery, and hopefully get some of the big drawing done. I should probably look at that hellacious to-do list as well. Damn thing. Rules my life.

Again. That’s on me. I can admit it. I can’t fix it.

Mahna Mahna*

So the girlchild got stuck in Paris for about 5 more hours than she was planning, which sounds like an awesome thing, unless you’re stuck in the airport and haven’t slept in 24 hours or more. She just left for Madagascar, 11 hours long, but she has the whole row in the airplane to herself…I suspect as soon as they hit altitude, she’s stretching out and drooling sleepily for as much of that as possible. It’s a horrible feeling, not being able to lie down when you’re that tired. So sometime tonight, I’ll hopefully hear from her again.

Meanwhile, I’m sick. I guess your body holds off all the crazy sick around you (all my students are sick) until you release some of the stress by putting your kid on a plane…and then that’s it. Not true, actually…I must have been exposed Friday or Saturday. Oh well. It was gonna happen sometime. It’s not the crazy flu everyone’s been having…feels like a bog-standard cold. Woo hoo! While teaching! And setting chemicals on fire! I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to go to the chiropractor. Unfortunately, because I think I needed it.

Instead, I cleaned up all the girlchild’s leavings…we had boxes and plastic wrap and those stuffed-with-air bags that Amazon uses. I sorted it all and recycled most of it. And then went around finding her left-behind bags and water bottles and all the stuff she borrowed from my dad that she didn’t take with her (she did take a lot…just not the 20-year-old lotion…Dad, if you’re reading this…I threw it out. It smelled really awful. I’ll buy you a new one.). And I did some grading and some school tasks. I even made dinner from scratch, but it turned out weird. Dunno why. Probably did something wrong. I’m not an awesome cook like she is.

Then we watched Ghost in the Shell, which was OK…still don’t know why they cast white people in Asian characters…that shit is stupid.

It’s been a while since I worked on the SJSA blocks, and I’m almost done with the last one…

IMG_1011 small

Gotta decide what to do with the gunshots…

IMG_1012 small

It was really cold last night…

IMG_1010 small

Simba is super cranky at the moment. All his favorite people left and he’s stuck with us. We don’t sit still enough for his liking.

Girlchild texting me from over the Atlantic Ocean…

IMG_1008 small

No such texts on this flight…batteries are dying.

So there were a few small changes I needed to make to the commission drawing…I re-angled the “perfect”…it was bugging me…

IMG_1014 small

The original poem was about a boy…but this quilt is about a girl…so one request was to change the two gendered words…

IMG_1015 small

And then these screws are like what is used in scoliosis surgeries (and perhaps other back surgeries), but they weren’t exactly like what was used in hers, so I had photos of the screws to change them…

IMG_1016 small

So I did…I just cut out the space and put new paper in and redrew…just a few things…

IMG_1018 small

Easy fix…

IMG_1019 small

Straightened out…

IMG_1020 small

And then, I numbered…because I couldn’t stand it anymore, not knowing if I stayed within my own boundaries. I knew I tried, but I often suck at that.

IMG_1025 small

Because the piece needs to be under a certain price, I aimed for something the same size and complexity as one of the bathtub quilts, because they are under that price. I figure cost by keeping track of my hours. It’s the only way that makes sense to me. Some big quilts have fewer pieces (which affects the time) than some smaller quilts. So I can’t do it by the inch or foot, like some quilt artists do. This works for me. Plus keeping track of that shit for the last 15 years or so has made me better at estimating time.

Not perfect, just better…

IMG_1027 small

I wanted to be under 800 pieces…and I was! A miracle.

IMG_1026 small

Now just waiting for the final OK and partial payment, and then I’ll get started. I set up the contract so that they can refuse the quilt at the end if they don’t like it, but I still get a percentage, so I’m not working for nothing. I don’t think it will happen, but I want the new owner to be happy with it and I want to be protected in case they aren’t…so this was what I came up with. It’s hard for someone to look at my black and white drawings and get a good idea of what the quilt will look like. I have a better idea in my head, but I haven’t even colored it out or anything. That stuff kind of comes as I’m staring at the drawing and the drawers of fabric. It’s a very intuitive process.

Also just waiting to know the girlchild is safe on land again…that’ll be a longer wait. I’m excited for her but also nervous. I didn’t sleep much last night because I would wake up and see if she had texted that she had left…because I was worried she would fall asleep in the airport and get left behind. Mom worries, right? Because she’s a capable and amazing adult and she will be fine. Looking forward to seeing her pictures and hopefully reading her blog.

OK, taking my snotty self to school, where, I’m not kidding, I’ll be setting shit on fire. Stand back! I should take a hairband, huh.

*Cake, Mahna Mahna

Walking Dogs

Hello 2018! I’m already 17 pages into a (it was blank) notebook for the new year…trying to be organized and mindful and all that stuff that we always start with and lose track of about 30 days in. Seriously. I’m not doing the dishes today because I cooked the last two meals. I’ll be walking the dogs later because dogs. Yeah. The boychild left this morning to camp in the middle of nowhere by himself, because he’d rather do that than go out to dinner for his birthday. Well. OK. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but he must have needed it. Hopefully he is safe and relatively warm. I will worry about him the whole time, because I gave birth to him and so I have a permanent umbilical cord attached to him (oh crap, a drawing idea just popped into my head). Both of them really. Plus he has my car. He goes back to college in a few weeks and then graduates and moves back home to do who-knows-what and the girlchild is off to Madagascar in three weeks, where I will alternately worry my ass off about her and be completely and totally jealous. Yeah. Well.

In totally awesome news, I’m starting a commissioned piece today and am really looking forward to trying to make something cool for her. I have two weeks to come up with a drawing…there’s stuff floating around inside my head that needs to coalesce and flow down through the pen onto paper. I’ve pushed off a lot of the other deadlines I might look at right now because last year was SO MUCH deadlining that I can’t handle that any more. This is good though…there’s a few things that need to go in the drawing, but they’re easy. I’m excited to finally start this!

And then I have three smaller quilts I want to make sometime this year, drawings I did last year that really speak to me. Plus there are two shows coming up in the fall that I want to make work for, but that’s a long way out and I don’t need to worry about it right now. So I guess that’s my plan for the year…simple, right? Ha! You know as well as I do that a whole bunch of new stuff will try to insert itself into that plan. It’s OK…I’m used to that.

I do like to do a little picture of all the quilts from the just-finished year, so here’s that…


Eight quilts this year…from top left to right: I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, Some Like It Hot, MomSleep (revised from 2016), We Won’t Go Back, You Pollute Me, Rooted in America, The Government Made Me Do It, and last, but not least, Not Less Than. May there be an equivalent number in 2018.

If you’re waiting on my holiday cards, they’re going out tomorrow. I had to print more and the ink is being cranky about drying.

So here’s the boychild testing out Grandpa’s tent in my living room. He doesn’t usually use a tent, but he also usually doesn’t have a car…so he took firewood and a cookstove and an ice chest even. Very exciting for him, I think. It’s almost glamping compared to what he normally does.

IMG_0507 small

I’ll go buy cake supplies and make him a birthday cake, even though he won’t be here for the day. The kid likes cake. If he’d given me any warning that he was gonna do this, I would’ve made cupcakes and sent some with him. I had no warning…literally the afternoon before he left, he posited that he would do this and he would need my car and would I let him steal it. And sure, I could have said no, but I don’t actually need it until Wednesday (we have a spare car here that I can arm wrestle the girlchild for), and he is obviously trying to separate from the family unit…which must be hard when you know you have few documented job skills and very little money. I was lucky not to have to move back home (much) after college. It’ll take him a while to get out, I think.

Meanwhile, the girlchild is still recovering from the last semester and detoxing from caffeine overload.

IMG_0508 small

This requires a lot of sleeping and quinoa. And videos of dogs.

I finished the 365th day on this. Done. It was an interesting experiment. I think I’m going to go ahead and piece it into a small crazy quilt and then work on that this year, but I have a couple other things that need to happen first…

IMG_0509 small

All black fabrics, I’m thinking…and then a bunch of embroidery. But less than in the center. Maybe really small blocks? Maybe small crazy-pieced blocks with narrow bits and a larger center bit for a motif. I’m freaking out because I’m totally seeing a face on the right side…with that wave curve as the nose. There are three eyeballs in this thing. And a hand. It’s not the most normal thing in the world. Shockingly.

Then I finished cutting out the little quilt that’s been in process since June. I’m probably going to try to iron it together over the next couple of days. It’s easy enough to do.

IMG_0511 small

When I look at what uses up the most brainpower when I’m making art, it’s the drawing and the choosing of fabrics that’s the hardest…this is just putting together what already came together in my head. So I’ll draw, sure, but I’ll do this in the moments in between. Because I go back to school in a week. And I should have some artmaking time in there. It’s harder to do once I go back. Vacation should have the stuff you really like to do. It’s true that Winter and Spring breaks rarely have much of that, but that’s just because being a teacher takes up too much life time in the beginning. I can say all I like that I’m going to balance it all better, but if I put off something for school, it all starts to pile up, and then I find myself buried again.

Let’s not think about that today, the first day of the new year. Let’s go walk some dogs and draw some stuff and iron something together and maybe watch some bad television while grading the last of that hellish project. Yup. Gonna do that.

Weighing in…on…

So I’ve had a few days to process all the crazy around the shooting in Orlando. I think it’s true that we have now seen so much gun violence and gender and racial hatred, and we’ve seen so little change in our policies, that it’s hard to even say anything, to even think…well what DOES need to change and HOW do we make it change, when we so obviously can’t even agree that a huge part of the problem is the gun itself and access to it, and the other huge problem is how much hate there is in our country. And there’s one presidential candidate who seems to be making that intensely worse. It’s hard to have any hope when you’re staring at all of that. My students were asking me who I voted for in the primaries, and I won’t tell them, but I do tell them that if Trump is elected, me and all my smart women friends will be in an internment camp (I read that somewhere)…because the likes of the Donald doesn’t like women who say no or argue. Hell, I’ve been around men like that in my life. One was a boss. That was a hard few years.

Anyway. It’s weighing on me, as I’m sure it’s weighing on many of you. I don’t see an easy solution as long as people are convinced weapons are necessary to their safety. And that a religion they don’t understand is at fault…I am amused at the anti-Muslim sentiment from people who are also anti-gay. You hate both? And yet you use the deaths of one group to try to oust the other? Fear is such an ugly stupid thing.

So yeah. Trying to survive the last few days of school with all that…and yeah, we will be talking about that and Brock the Rapist and consent during sex ed this week.

Meanwhile, hiking seems a good solution to the feeling and stress parts…we’re down to one car and it’s not particularly large, but we piled three dogs and three adults into it…then Simba tried to tie up the boychild.

IMG_6837 small

This is one I haven’t done in a while, Old Sweetwater Bridge…because I think of it as a mostly flat and not very long trail.

IMG_6838 small

There’s been a lot of water this year, so there are new plants…

IMG_6846 small

And eventually, they showed me the hilly part, which I didn’t know was there. We came in through that river valley. So now I have another hike to add to the local within-a-5-minute-drive options…

IMG_6847 small

They’ve gone in and fixed trails and added signage in the last year or so, which is why it’s easier to find existing real trails that don’t just wander off into the side of a hill.

Coming back, dogs were tired and hot…so were we…

IMG_6851 small

But it really does help clear the brain.

Grades were apparently due yesterday (it’s always Tuesday except when it’s not!)…and everything is done except for one kid, who may show up with stuff today. This morning hopefully…

I traced the small owl onto Wonder Under…

IMG_6856 small

Then I cut out Wonder Under pieces for the big quilt while we watched Deadpool as a family. It was just as good the second time around.

Simba as a neck warmer…

IMG_6857 small

He is a very lovey dog, when he’s not trying to bite you. Still working on that part of the training.

OK. Maybe a drawing will come out of the other stuff…not that it solves anything except the chaos in my brain. Still working on the other part of the solution. Because Australia’s version isn’t staring us in the face or anything. Sigh.

The Light…

Amusing that I last posted about blurry, because now my camera won’t take anything BUT blurry pictures (it’s not me…it’s the technology). Frustrating. I kill cameras quickly. I don’t even think it’s a year old, so I’ll chase down the warranty and see what I can do. Meanwhile, the phone takes OK pictures, so I can use that.

There are four days of school left. I have 700 things left to do in four days, but I’m sure it will be OK. Most of my grades are done…which is good, because they’re due tomorrow. I finished printing all the certificates. I still have a field trip today, teaching tomorrow and most of the next day, an award ceremony, and that hellish last day when we have our kids for just over 3 hours with nothing real to do.

I worked my butt off yesterday getting stuff done because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel…the vacation light. The light of no more grading. Of no more lesson plans. Of no more trying to get all the tech to work and the kids to behave. Such a relief this year. OK. Probably every year I feel this way; I just forget it until it’s upon me.

One of my quilts is in an article in Textile Fibre Forum


An article by Tanya Brown on Censorship in Art…with my One Paycheck nice and big in the front…

DSCN0518 small

Of course, this picture is blurry. My fault. It’s a good article, especially for those who make abstract or less in-your-face art (although I don’t consider nudity “in your face”)…if you don’t realize this is happening because it doesn’t happen to you. Certainly the notion of ART in the quilt world is still troubled. Hopefully that will change over time.

I finished tracing Wonder Under last night for the new big quilt…

DSCN0519 small

Just over 19 hours to trace…I think I thought it would be 20 hours, so not a bad guess. There are 6 yards of Wonder Under that now need to be trimmed. The last two pieces had lots of big pieces on them from the hair and the sun. In fact, I don’t think I filled all of the last piece. So I’ll start cutting out tonight. I wanted to be done cutting out “by the time I got out of school”. Well technically my last day is Friday, but it usually only takes me about 20 minutes to check out…so we’ll see. I’m figuring 15 hours to cut the pieces out, so that’s a lot to do this week, but I am mostly done with school crap…so that will help. Being able to come home and do NOTHING that is school-related…that is bliss. Seriously. I can’t even tell you.

I started working on Owl 3.0 as well…a commission pulled from the most recent drawing. There’s an owl on the left side, under a rib and a Fallopian tube. I drew the whole thing out and numbered it.

IMG_6814 small

It’s 102 pieces, which is not bad. A lot of them will be the same color, so it won’t take long to pick fabrics and iron. I’m going to start tracing it tonight before I put the light table top back on.

Puppy was deeply asleep while I graded yesterday. I guess he got tired out on Saturday and Sunday morning.

IMG_6808 small

We are up to three dogs for the week. We were a little worried because my parents’ dog, Katie (on the right), had been bullying Simba when we visited on Sunday, but they’ve been fine…

IMG_6805 small

Calli is the alpha dog (well, behind the humans). Simba is a spaz and the older dogs school him. Katie is kind of a freak sometimes, but they’ve been doing well with three adults to entertain them.

So yeah, not the most relaxing week, but it helps to see into the future, where sleep happens and reading books and shee-it. I keep dreaming of the same stuff. No Jamaican beaches and fruity cocktails. Just don’t make me get up early and teach for a few weeks. Please.

Making a Gift

I occasionally make quilts as gifts…I sometimes get hints from people that they’d like a quilt, but often that’s just not an option for me…whether I don’t have an idea for them or because my larger quilts are pretty significantly time-consuming. You’ve got to be a fairly important person in my life to have one of those, and it might be even more difficult now, because I did give one of my big ones away and now I wish I hadn’t. It’s hard to think about one of my babies out there where I don’t think they deserve to be…but that’s life. I don’t mind selling them…that’s a fulfilling transaction. But if I give you a $2000 quilt, hell, you better deserve it. That’s months of work.

Anyway, so I made one gift quilt this year. I was making those cats and realized someone I cared about would probably like a quilt of his cat…so I took some pictures of Satchemo’s squished little face…

IMG_5274 small

He has a tiny nose and kind of a grumpy cat facial structure. These pictures were dark too, and I realized I had no full-body pictures, so I trolled Facebook to find this one…

satchemo small

Perfect for his body coloring and how he curls up. Then I spent about an hour trying to draw him…the first few weren’t quite right, but then I got his face right, traced it, and added it to a better body shape.

IMG_5438 small

So if you’re wondering if I could make a quilt of your cat…well, probably. Because if you had a perfect picture, that would be awesome, but obviously I can take one cool picture (the sink one) and mess with it to make a straight-on quilt. Although maybe I should have done the sink too. Except then there was no way I would have finished it in time.

Tracing the Wonder Under…

DSCN2720 small

That’s all of it…

DSCN2721 small

And then cutting it out…

DSCN2723 small

Satch has 40 pieces, so more than most of the small cat quilts I did earlier this year. Some stages of the quilt took longer than with other quilts, because I wanted to make sure the quilt looked like its namesake. So color choice and drawing were kind of time-consuming. I’ve found that people like the quilts to be in the $100 range, but with the style of quilt I make, that’s really difficult. That’s about 3-4 hours of work, not counting materials, and I make these in more like 5 or 6 hours. And yes, I know people who would work on something for 10 hours and charge $100. I won’t. I work hard to put my kids through school and keep my head above water (most of the time). I’m not working for $10/hour, because my 25 years of quilting experience has to pay better than that.

I had the sink photo up for the body fabrics on my iPad. The face photo was up earlier. The grays are always a challenge.

DSCN2724 small

Here they are all ironed down. I thought his back end was too dark until I saw him sitting there again. He really is darker in back.

DSCN2725 small

It didn’t take long to trim the pieces…although now I’ve lost my little scissors. No idea where they went…and that’s the second pair gone missing. I need to do a deep clean. There’s gotta be 50 pairs of scissors in this house.

DSCN2726 small

Ironing is the next step…I did the head separate to make sure it all went together well…


Before I put it on the body. Faces are important. If it’s human, I iron the eyes together separately and then put them on the face, to make sure they’re not horrendously crooked.

DSCN2737 small

Then to pick a background…can’t be too dark, because of the dark parts. Can’t be too gray or too light, because the lights won’t show. Has to be a color and pattern that isn’t too busy.

DSCN2739 small

I finally found one…mostly blue with some green in it. Then I stitched it down and pinbasted it. Starting quilting with a dark thread around the cat itself.

DSCN2752 small

Then found the thread for the background, except it wasn’t anywhere near a full spool. Oh well. It’s a small quilt, right?

DSCN2753 small

Oh yeah, I ran out. Oh well. I did a fairly good job of quilting evenly around it before that happened.

DSCN2754 small

It does change colors in different light.

Then yesterday, in between cookie-baking, I trimmed and bound it…

DSCN2757 small

Finishing the hand-sewing about 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave to meet the recipient (it’s OK, I had a backup plan).

I forgot to measure it though. I can do that later. But here’s the finished piece.

DSCN2758 small

Satchemo took about 6 1/2 hours to make, not counting drawing time…in a commission, I would count that…legitimately. I think he looks like his namesake. That cat spends a lot of time on my lap, clawing the crap out of my thighs and/or boobs, so I’m prettty familiar with his face. And he was the 25th quilt I finished in 2015. I’m unlikely to finish another one by January 1, so I guess he’s the last quilt in 2015. Not bad. Now on to the next one…