Staring at the Paper…

So. If you have a meeting after work about a kid, but you also have your exercise class, which is part of what keeps you sane and healthy, do you (I’m not skipping the class, y’all) dress for the class so you can stay longer at the meeting? Or leave earlier to go get dressed. I’m leaning toward the latter. The former is more efficient and makes more sense, but probably the latter is more professional. Or just send notes to the meeting and know your co-teachers will say the same stuff you do, because it’s not like the kid is different in his other classes. He’s pretty consistent. These are the things that keep me up at night…that and my natural distrust of the white male politician. And a sense of overwhelming dread that accompanies my workload.

It’s a good thing I’m drawing an hour every night…that’s my goal anyway. Draw for an hour, meditate, attempt sleep. Repeat. Some of the “drawing” is just staring at the paper, which is also allowed.

Not sure if it’s the future mom or the fetus who isn’t ready in this figure. Maybe both. That night, there was thunder and lightning galore, and Calli lost her mind over and over again. So I didn’t sleep much either.

The left side is coming along…

I will give them a natural landscape to be in, a green space. The bubble on the right is harder to draw.

I think I have most of the figures on the left done. I’m trying to refrain from more details. There’s enough. I got myself all tied in knots over shadows last night…drawn shadows. They just got to be too much. So I got rid of a bunch of them.

I also entered another show, which took over an hour, although that “family friendly” tag is in there, so who knows what will get in, if anything. I did get into two things yesterday, which is nice. Swallow Me Whole will be in Fiber Art Now as part of Excellence in Quilts

And Wise Choice will be going to San Diego Mesa College for their Sowing Seeds exhibit.

It was part of the Earth Stories exhibit and hasn’t been seen locally, I think. It traveled a lot and then got rolled up. It’s all about birth control and giving women the right to plan families and childbirth…ironically very similar to what I’m working on in the current drawing. Things don’t change. I wish they would, but they don’t seem to.

The symptoms from the booster seem gone now…a little fatigue and feeling like I was coming down with the flu, plus a sore arm. I think I’m good now. And more protected, which is a plus.

OK, with that, I have two meetings today during and after school, an exercise class, and then hopefully some delightful drawing going on. One can hope. The drawing itself will be delightful…the things I am drawing are not so much. I probably have to grade some things too. At least it’s nice and cool for a few days…no more lightning, but drizzly clouds. I’ll take that.

Apparently It’s Vacation

As I was walking up the steps to my door last night, balancing food and gym gear and a set of headphones that I think is still out there on the ground, I finally felt summer vacation. It was right there in my chest, a giant boulder just lifting off. I think it had been disappearing a bit at a time, but somehow, in the dark, walking painfully up the stairs (blister from the hike, plus I’d just worked out for 2 hours), hearing the night birds, feeling summer air, realizing I had nothing to do the next day (that is not exactly true), and honestly, here’s the key: I had no idea what day of the week it was. Yeah. It’s vacation. At least a little. I have more work coming in probably today, and a huge quilt in progress, and I’m trying to take a refresher class in chemistry that was kicking my butt last night, but otherwise, it’s vacation.

What a relief. It always takes at least a week for my brain to give up on school.

I picked out the flesh for this quilt yesterday…honestly, most of it is covered by plants and animals, but I still need fabric for it…plus the face.

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I got a little bit ironed before I had to head off for a meeting…

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Girlchild is faking sleep…puppy is not. He’s really adorable sometimes, when he’s not eating his own poop or barking at invisible dangers.

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The drawing is so big and detailed that I started pinning the bottom of it to the ironing board, so I didn’t have to get down on the ground to see the details. I ironed the raccoon and some violets yesterday and it took forever.

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Mostly the violets, because when I numbered them, I did it in 3 different boxes…the 200s, the 300s, and the 500s. So I had to go searching through all those boxes for these freakishly tiny violet pieces and stems. Kind of a pain. Time-consuming as well. I think I have over 6 hours of ironing in and I’m still working in the 200s box, although I’ve picked up pieces into the 900s, I think. I found all the big flesh pieces in the lower torso, minus the ribs, and ironed them all first.

I’m trying to be logical, whatever that means at the moment.

Here’s what was ironed down by the end of the day.

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I was pretty tired by then…

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I have some good news about a solo show for 2017, but I want a few more details before I drop that news. But in current show news, Earth Stories opens at the Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington, West Virginia , tomorrow, running through October 2. California Fibers: Eclectic Fibers opens tomorrow at the Oceanside Museum of Art in Oceanside, California, and runs through October 9. I have quilts in both…the one below is from Earth Stories…it’s the smaller piece, Planting Choice, that goes with the larger one.

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Anyway, as always, send photos if you can take them…I love seeing my work in situ. I’ll be at the Oceanside Museum opening too, so look for me and say hi.

She Be Done

I finished it.

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Last night. Actually early this morning. After midnight. Almost 90 hours since the end of January. But it’s done almost a month earlier than I was hoping. I need to finish the other little one so I can call the photographer. Because y’all probably want to see nice pictures of it, instead of all I can get, which is this…

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Because it’s kinda big and I don’t have anywhere I can lay it out right now, without cleaning a floor, and I really don’t feel like cleaning fucking anything at the moment.

How do I feel about this quilt? It’s nice. It’s pretty. Sigh. And people like it. Maybe that’s all I have to know. I hope it gets into the show for which I made it, because that would be really annoying if it didn’t. I only have one quilt I can enter in that one, because of the silly restrictions. The reality is I might need to make more of these pretty quilts, although probably much smaller if I want them to sell, because this thing ain’t cheap…you can’t put 90 hours into something and sell it for a couple hundred dollars. I mean, you CAN, but it’s fucking stupid.

But I’m telling you, the next three quilts all have fucking uteri in them, so I will feel much better about them. You have to understand that I am currently being ruled by my uterus. It hurts, it bleeds, it is a crazy mess, and all the hormones it and my ovaries are producing so haphazardly are running my emotions all over the map, fucking with my sleep, my brain, everything. Really, I should do…oh shit, I just had some amazing ideas for uterus quilts. Huh.

Crap. I have so much stuff to do right now, and about 25 ideas for drawings just popped into my head. Which makes me want to cry, because my job…the one that pays the bills…it’s really sucking up some major time at the moment and I’m trying not to think about what that might look like next year. Because I’m trying not to assume the worst. I’m trying to just step back and say, yeah whatever. Just tell me what you want me to teach. I’ll come to school every day and maybe I’ll just suck at it. Because I don’t want to spend another 10 hours a week working at a job that really just would take everything if it could. I want those extra hours for art. I might need those extra hours for another job. And it needs to be a job that I don’t take home with me, because I can’t take on anything else at the moment. The emotional crap with having both kids gone and being alone here in this house is bad enough without letting me make art in that time. I need that time in my head for peace. I really do. As I get older, it seems to get worse. I think I spent so many years pushing all that away and doing mom stuff and job stuff and managing everything that after the Big Depression of 2013 (that is still going on some level), I really can’t go back to that. I can’t be that person any more. And honestly? I have a 19-year-old and an almost 18-year-old. I shouldn’t have to be mom at that level any more. And I have enough years into teaching that I shouldn’t have to be working like a first-year teacher. Ha! As we add technology, which I am doing like a crazy person, and change standards. OK. So there is still a major learning curve. But I don’t get excited when you ask me what else do I want to be teaching…I DON’T want to be teaching anything else.

Fuck. I’m a mess. Maybe I should just blow everything off and draw.

Sigh. No, one of those things is financial aid for the boychild. Need that. Another is food and meds for the animals. I need to take care of them. They take care of me. And food for the week. Can’t really blow that off.

Fucking responsible adult brain. I wonder about Picasso. Did he blow off everything else? Probably.

Last night…

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I’m watching DS9 on the righthand computer, the cat is sitting on my lap demanding pets, the school laptop is behind her, where I’m grading assignments on Google Classroom, and three teenaged girls are eating all the pizza in the world in the living room. I don’t even use that TV any more…let alone the VCR. If I ever remodel this room…probably there will be another computer monitor up there. I did get one assignment completely graded though. I’m getting better at doing these. It’s hard in the classroom though, because often the free time I have is when kids are responding to something on my computer, so I can’t grade at the same time…and the app for tablets fucking sucks at the moment. The tablet the school gave me won’t even respond at all, and the iPad, if you click on a student, nothing happens. Same with the phone (not shocking, probably the same app). So I just stand there, trying to figure out what to do with my “free” time. I mean, really, it’s about 10 minutes per period, but yes, I’m that fucking efficient. I can grade 6 or 7 warmups in that time period. I can get through 5 assignments on Classroom. Every 5 counts. So I’ve been bringing my school computer home every weekend instead and trying to make sure I get through an assignment a weekend. SUCKS.

I saw this fabric online somewhere and it poked at me for about three days before I decided I couldn’t live without it.

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Plus I want to draw some more stuff like that, right? Tula Pink. Interesting. So then I tried to find it and found it on sale, and that’s when this happened…

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I can’t really explain it. But there’s Adventure Time and Walking Dead and wooden rulers? I don’t know. Don’t ask. It’ll end up somewhere. I cannot explain my fabric stash. They were all on sale.

By the way, Earth Stories (or most of it) just opened on Thursday at the Kennedy Museum of Art, University of Ohio, Athens. It will be there through early September. So if you want to see my piece and you’re at Quilt National (where my work will NOT be…can I get a high 5?), then head over there in a free moment.

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Because not only do you get a uterus, but it has a fetal skelly in it. That sucker was a bitch to make.

OK. I’m getting some shit crossed off my to-do list right now.

Hello Friday…

Hello Friday. I’m glad you’re here, although you will be long and full of tests and whiny kids who didn’t study because they think grades are magical things that happen to them and there will be soccer and a plane flight and lots of girly squealing on the other end…wait…no…this is me and Vickie…we don’t girly squeal…we guffaw and snort and make rude comments. So there’ll be lots of that. And maybe I’ll be allowed to sleep…who knows? But there will be lots of food and a musical and hanging out with Tanya and Ethiopian food and maybe some SCIENCE and some art supplies and who knows what else.

But it’s Friday at least, and although I will get absolutely no art made today, Saturday, or probably even Sunday, that’s OK, because I will be feeding the artist’s mind with all the experiences and laughter and goofiness and serious discussion that it needs to be what it is. To do what it does.

Plus I have Monday off, so I can catch up!

Who am I kidding? I will never catch up. Seriously, I have three assignments that need grading from last week, can’t hand any of them off to my TA because they’re too complicated, and I’m about to get four more today. Really I should take all my grading with me (not happening). Or I should stop assigning things.

I am looking forward to coming back and getting my focus on…it’s been off this week for a variety of reasons. I need to stitch down, sandwich, and quilt the two cancer hands. I need to stitch down (although it will probably fray like a bitch) the first of the recycled pieces and pick fabrics for the next one, because they are currently in piles in my living room. I need to start tracing Wonder Under for the Earth Mother from Ventura (seriously, I think that’s her name). That’s next week. Ha! Because I won’t have 7 assignments to grade, 2 soccer games, a union meeting, and god knows what else that hasn’t even hit me upside the head yet?

Yeah. Whatever. I can do it.

And I’m taking my sketchbook on the plane. I’m hoping to sit beside some conservative businessman and draw scary boobs with eyeballs in them. Wait a minute. I really do like that idea. I have not done that. How have I not done that?

Hey Vickie, can I sit at the breakfast table with your kids and draw? She’s gonna say yes.

Meanwhile, my FFAC donation quilt will be winging its way to a newish art quilter in Florida, while mine comes from Belgium…

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I’ll post pictures when it gets here. Could be a while. I can handle waiting. Then maybe I will hang art in the living room, ignoring the girlchild’s edict of no nudity. My house. My rules. Ha. Like that works.

In other cool news, Earth Stories is now traveling through the middle of 2017…

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It will be in Athens, Ohio, May 23-September 7, 2015; San Jose, California, November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016; Huntington, West Virginia, June 25-October 2, 2016; and Erie, New York, January 20– June 11, 2017. Plenty of opportunities to see it…I’m aiming for the San Jose one of course.

I fly places once or twice a year…my quilts? They get to go all over. Lucky beasts.

Traveling Art

I like it when my art travels, when the quilts get vacations away from my house and all the cat hair, when they get to hang free, not be rolled up in a sheet with a bunch of other quilts in the dark. It’s probably nicer for them to get some air, see some new people, experience new places. So I enter shows (OK, that’s not why I enter shows. You’re right). I’ve had a hard time lately getting into juried shows, with a variety of theories as to why, so some friends suggested some that I enter, and I did, and I’ve been rejected from every single one again. The last rejection came in yesterday from Extreme Fibers, which I actually expected, because I think they are looking for extreme technique, and not extreme images, and I don’t do anything extreme with technique, unless you keep track of how many pieces are in my quilts. That’s somewhat extreme.

It’s OK…there are at least three or four shows to enter this month (although one of them, I couldn’t find a single piece of mine that would work for the theme…always an issue). I’m not giving up. Besides, the ones that are already out there and traveling are getting more venues, and that’s never a bad thing.

Wise Choice is in Earth Stories, which will now be at the Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH, from April 24-September 13, 2015, and even more exciting in terms of my being able to see it, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, San Jose, CA, from November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016 (road trip!).

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I haven’t seen this show yet, so that will be cool.

I have two quilts in People and Portraits, which will now be traveling to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY, from October 1-December 20, 2015. Here’s Fully Medicated

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And I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket

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Meanwhile, I sit at home, filling out college financial aid applications, trying to figure out how to pay for the rest of the kids’ college, getting texts from one about how a girl fell onto his laptop and now the display is messed up (ouch) and from the other about how she didn’t really use all the data for which the phone company would like to charge me. Uh huh. Right.

Really, I should stop thinking about all that crap and get going on the next step of whatever art quilt I’m working on (5 at a time at the moment) and enter the next batch of shows, because the real life stuff is kicking my butt at the moment. Unfortunately, first I have to go to school and take 110 kids on a field trip…so survival first…then art.

Earth Stories: The Reveal

So I meant to post this ages ago, but life always gets in the way. Because the exhibit is finally open (Kathryn, that was like so three weeks ago), I can post pictures of the whole Earth Stories piece. The larger quilt is 72″ square and is called Wise Choice

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There’s a lot going on in this quilt…and I did actually go back and add ink after the photos were taken (don’t tell)…

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There was a lot of gray, except for this section.

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Lots of crazy details too…

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Tiny little pieces abound…

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It’s in Michigan right now at the Michigan State University Museum through November 26…

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So you can see all those crazy tiny details up close…I really like that fetal skelly…

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The smaller one is 12×14″ and is called Planting Choice

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It’s still got crazy tiny pieces in it…

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I guess that’s how I roll…

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It took from March through September of last year to get these done…they should be traveling for a while, so hopefully you’ll get a chance to see them. I’ll put show updates on the Current Shows page as I get them. There is also a catalog available on the SAQA website, plus you can see all the other quilts there too.



Earth Stories: Making a Small Statement

One of the requirements of the Earth Stories exhibit was that we were to make a small, 12×14″ piece that was sort of a poster of what the big piece was about. So how to summarize the whole issue?

Luckily, I had some part of my drawing brain back sometime in late August. I was nearly finished with the big quilt and school was starting, so I was going to panic soon. I sat down and drew this in one evening. Of course, that was after I stared at the paper with the rectangle perimeter drawn on it for about 6 days. Let’s be truthful here.

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I wanted to emphasize that the birth control allowed us to decide how to feed our kids, that it gave us choices about when to have kids and how to space them.

I was still a little psycho about pieces on this tiny thing though. It has 133 pieces. Ayep. Still crazy.

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Traced it onto Wonder Under in record time (50 minutes).



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Cut them out (24 minutes). I really should do more small pieces)…I’d probably be less frustrated. But also probably less fulfilled. Scary balance there.

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Then I started the fabric-picking…I had not put the other fabrics away, because I wanted to be choosing from the same pile of stuff…so the two quilts would speak to each other. They are related, you know. It took just over an hour and a half to choose the fabrics…

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Then I trimmed the pieces in just under an hour…

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And started ironing them down…

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Here’s a pile of pieces ready for a background…

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Then I realized I didn’t have very much of the background fabric left…to be specific, this is what I had…


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So I used the same sky fabric from the big cloud, then pieced border on top of it…but as you can see, I didn’t necessarily do everything completely straight (this is why I don’t piece quilts)…

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I do have a degree in fixing things that are fucked up, though, so I pulled apart and restitched a seam…

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Ironing it all together and to the background took a little over 2 hours (mostly because I screwed up). Then I stitched everything down (26 minutes), sandwiched, pinbasted, and started quilting…about an hour for all of that.

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Afterwards, I once again forgot that tiny-ass binding is a pain in the ass to stitch down, so I did it anyway (I will never learn)…

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Binding it took a couple of hours. I started this on August 24, finished on September 12 (and that’s only because I took a long time on the binding). It took 9 hours and 19 minutes. Holy crap. That was easy. It is difficult for me, though, to get enough meaning and depth into a small piece to make me feel satisfied with it. I think this one is successful, as are the other two small ones I did last summer, but it’s not a size I enjoy. I may work on that this summer. There’s something to be said for finishing something in one day. Maybe I’ll set a goal.

Next post? I finally reveal both pieces and talk about the exhibitions and the catalog.


Earth Stories: Sewing It Down…or Up…

First you sew it down. Then you sew it up. Once all the pieces are ironed down, I stitch them down with an invisible thread on the top and a small zigzag…here’s what it looks like from the back.

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It took me about 9 1/2 hours to stitch the whole thing down, starting on July 31 and finishing August 5…I took a few days off in the middle for a soccer tournament.

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It’s kind of mesmerizing (or monotonous, depending on how I’m feeling) to do all that stitching, but if I don’t, the pieces don’t stay put. When I’m not actually sewing, I pile it all up on top of the sewing machine, because otherwise cats want to sit on it.

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Sometimes when I’m actually quilting the piece, I’ll find stuff I didn’t stitch down, so I’m not perfect…I try to follow some sort of plan so I don’t miss pieces, but it doesn’t really work that way.

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I have a nice view at least (not that I look up…at all). I had a hard time working on this part last year, because normally I listen to music, but music has memories attached to it and emotional tugs, and that was just not a good thing last year at this time. Hell, it probably STILL isn’t, which is sad…but I bullied through. There are a lot of tears in this thing.

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Once the whole thing is stitched down, I sandwich it with batting and backing. I had to piece the backing…the quilt finishes at 72″ square, so I even had to move the bench out of the entryway to get it to fit (yes, this is the largest empty floor space in the house…I will never be able to move unless the entryway is at least this big).

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Here it is sandwiched…which means no one can come in the front door until it’s pinned. I do have to consider these things (where are the kids and when are they coming back?).

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It took almost 3 hours to pin baste it…on my knees…

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Then comes the quilting. I start with a dark thread to outline the things I want to see…I had all these spools of the same color of dark blue (it’s one I use a lot). I think I used almost all of them up.

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This is outlining, which I do before I stitch any filler stitches.

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I outline anything I want to pop out, so most of the imagery in the quilt.

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This stage is not easy, because I’m manhandling a large, heavy beast through a normal-sized machine…I wear gloves and try to get up and flex my back and shoulder muscles regularly, but usually, once I start stitching, I find it hard to stop.

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I cried a lot during this part too…music again.

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Here’s what the back looks like…that’s the heart (upside down).

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It took 19 1/2 hours to quilt this whole thing. I started August 7 and finished on the 14th.

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There was a lot of little tiny stitching detail going on…

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These figures are less than 5″ tall…

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The stitching details were what made the difference on these figures…

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That section is a whole lot of crazy.

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Sometimes the thread has issues…

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Here’s that crazy corn section stitched up…

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And the International Planned Parenthood Federation logo. I did contact them about this quilt, but they never answered. I should probably do it again with a picture this time.

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Cat and baby detail…

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Vegetable garden (very fun to draw and make)…

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When it was all quilted, I laid it back out on the entryway floor to try to cut it to size. It had to be 72″ square, so that was a pain in the butt…I hate making to an exact size.

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Then I put the 18 miles of binding on…

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Stitching the binding and sleeves took a little over 8 hours (cat involvement!).

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Technically, I finished on August 24 with 168 hours and 39 minutes, started in March. But then I drew on it later…I have absolutely no idea WHEN that was…thought it was January, but I’m not finding any notation of it. Oh well. I know it was after it was photographed. Oh well. I’m OK with that.

Two more posts on this…the exhibit posts and the little quilt…which took a lot less time and energy to make.



Earth Stories: Sticking It Together

My continuing saga of how the Earth Stories quilts came together…

Once the pieces are trimmed, I iron them all together. I do this by putting the original drawing right-side up on the ironing board and putting an applique press sheet on top. You can see the lines through the sheet, so I pull the paper backing off the pieces one at a time, line them up, overlap them where necessary, and iron them down.

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On a quilt this big, I needed multiple sheets going at a time…the quilt is 72″ wide and the sheets aren’t.

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I try to iron big sections together, but not necessarily all the pieces. I need room for adjustment later when I go to iron it down to the background.

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When I have super-small pieces, like in the skeletons, I often don’t cut those pieces out until I’m ready to iron them. Otherwise, I lose them. I’m not sure WHERE I lose them…it’s like that extra sock you can never find. Sometimes I find them two quilts later, a randomly numbered piece that has no home. So sometimes during this stage I have to redraw and recut a missing piece.

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If I can get away with it, I just make a note about the missing piece…they often show up later in a different bin.

This section below has about 250 tiny pieces in it. It was a little crazy.

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Oh yeah. This was also crazy. There was a lot of crazy with this quilt. It might have been funny if it weren’t so crazy.

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Earth Mother’s face coming together…and her heart. Her heart didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted. I remembered that when I did the next heart.

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And here’s the main character in the dream bubble…

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I actually divided the sky in half, but ironed both halves on the same fabric…

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Did I mention crazy? This is corn. I’m not sure in the end product that it was worth the level of crazy that I drew, but there it is.

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You can see the little corn tassels and leaves above ready to be ironed. If you ever see this quilt in person, please appreciate the corn.

Then I pieced the (huge) background and laid it out on my entryway floor…which it filled. My mom’s entryway is bigger, so I have done this at her house too. If I ever move, I will need one big empty floor…

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I lay the pieces out on the background and make them fit together. This is sometimes a really long and painful process. The dream world bubble was all one piece at this point…much easier to deal with.

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You can see I had the Earth Mother figure divided into three main pieces…top, bottom, and belly.

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Here’s most of it in place. I iron it down, best I can on a lumpy tile floor…I just need it all to stick together long enough to get it to the ironing board. Did I mention this is 72″ square? Yeah.

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And then I transfer it to my ironing board and spray each section with water (hoping fabrics don’t run) and put the heat on for 30 seconds at least, trying to get all the layers to fuse down.

It took almost 31 hours to iron this sucker together. I worked from July 11-31. I should add that I was going through a significantly traumatic event while this was happening, so I know I wasn’t working very well or efficiently. Technically you’d call my mental state shock. So I guess I should be impressed that I can create anything while in shock, although this task is really just about getting it done, not about being creative. An assistant could probably do this part. I tried to concentrate on what I was doing to distract me from the other crap, but I had a really hard time doing that well. I really didn’t care if it got done or not, except that I had committed to make the quilt for the exhibit, and I’m usually pretty good about commitments like that. I’m not a flaky artist. So I did it. It was, honestly, something to do. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 months…just making the art, even though it doesn’t feel good…there are other things that feel worse, and this seems to occasionally make me feel at peace…so I keep doing it.

But just looking at that piece lying on the floor brings back how awful I was feeling. I would get out of bed, trudge down the hallway, sigh deeply, and just keep going. Every day. That’s not a life. But it’s the life that birthed this quilt.

Next post, stitching it all together.

Earth Stories: Coloring It In

Once I have all the pieces sorted into bins (in this case, I had 21 of them…I actually had to go buy more), I start ironing Wonder Under onto fabric.

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Each bin has 100 pieces in it, and if I was really organized when I numbered the pieces, it gets ironed together in some logical order, often bottom (base) to top. I try to do all the body pieces together, but it gets problematic, so sometimes I just do all the flesh pieces and then all the inside stuff, like lips and nipples and lungs and uteri.

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This quilt had some weird stuff going on with it though, so the first thing I did was go fabric shopping. I bought the background fabric first (I always do, so I can hold each fabric that touches it up to the background to see if it’s going to work). I also bought a bunch of grays, almost whites, and then a big piece of bright sky blue for…well…the bright sky.

I hang the drawing up in my office, and as you can see, this drawing took over the room. I don’t leave the ironing board there while I’m ironing…but basically, the ironing board is perpendicular to the drawing, so I can just look to the right to see what’s where.

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Here’s ironing the sky…I did that first, because I knew it would be big and I just wanted it out of the way.

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Then how do I pick the colors? Usually I have some idea of the coloring of the quilt in general, mostly the main figure against the background. Because this one was about how the Earth was being damaged, I wanted the Mother Earth figure and all the people in the main part of the quilt to be grayed out. I started with her, making her mostly shades of white to gray, and then the smaller figures in the section were a range of blue-grays, which sit on the blue background. So I really thought this one out. That said, I never sat down with colored pencils or a computer and colored in a drawing. It’s all in my head.

As I iron the pieces to fabric, they all go in a bin.

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Sometimes I have to pull sections out so I can hold them up to something that will be next to them or under them.

While I’m ironing, every fabric I’ve pulled for the quilt ends up piled on the ironing board…which got kinda overcrowded on this quilt.

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That way, I can reuse fabrics throughout the quilt, which gives it a bit more continuity.

These are water fabrics in the base of the quilt, early days in the ironing.

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I started on April 24, 2013, and worked on it a little bit each week until I went on vacation to Oregon with the kids after school got out…and then finished it up before July 4.

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Just like with the most recent one, school nights only yielded an hour or two, if I was being really good. Here are all the rocks in the river bed below the ground.

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And skelly pieces…I always have skelly pieces…

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These are freakin’ tiny, I might add.

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In the end, I used 137 fabrics, most of them grays…

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A serious number of grays…

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It took almost 27 hours to iron all 2000+ pieces down to fabric.

Then I had to cut them all out…to be truthful, I overlapped these two tasks, even taking a bag of pieces to Oregon with me to cut out while playing board games in the evening. Some of the super-tiny pieces stayed on their bigger piece of fabric until they were ready to be ironed down, just to make sure I didn’t lose them…

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It took almost 29 hours to cut them all out…I think part of that was because I WAS doing other stuff while cutting them out, like playing games. But there also a lot of teensy weensy pieces that were just fussy to cut out. I cut pieces out from June 11-July 8. July 8 would have been my 24th wedding anniversary if that marriage had lasted. Yes, I think that every year. I keep thinking I’ll stop, but that’s not how my brain works. It marks events. It runs itself by days when stuff happened…some good, some bad. Then some dates I can’t remember at all.

Once they’re all cut out, I sort them back into the bins by 100s so I can start ironing.

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That task in itself took 2 hours and happened on July 10, when I was the person previously known as Kathy Nida. I’m a different Kathy Nida now. This poor quilt survived my going through all that trauma. This might be one of the reasons I don’t really ever want it back in my house…but maybe I’ll feel differently in a year or two, after it’s traveled.

Next step? Ironing that sucker together…ironing during a Southern California summer…not the best choice of times. But we don’t always have choices.

It’s hard to write about this quilt. I have to go back through blog posts and photos that I don’t want to see, to think about how deep in the hole I was while I was making it. I had hoped that with 10 months gone, it would be easier, and maybe it is a bit, because I am managing to sit here and hold back tears while writing this, but only just. Emotional pain is such a strange beast. It’s so deep inside you, somewhere around where the art resides, quite honestly. They are closely linked and thinking of one evokes the other. I guess that’s a good thing. Hard to say. If I weren’t an artist, would I have bounced back, recovered quicker? Or would it still be me, and I would still be dealing with the pain, just without the added layer, perhaps therapy of the art?

All that probably doesn’t matter. I really was trying to make this a simple report of what happened to create this quilt, but it has so much ironed and stitched into it that it will come out, no matter what my plan once was. A couple more posts and you’ll get to see the final version…