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


That’s the Way That It Goes*

September 20, 2016

Rain? Is that water falling from the sky? The dogs are surely confused by this. They don’t want to go out in it. Um. Guys. You’re gonna have to. I don’t have a dog bathroom in the house, and no, you can’t just use the carpet like some of your previous cat friends. I don’t understand why the Golden Retriever, who goes in the pool almost every single day, even in 40-degree temps, will not go out when the same stuff falls from above. And looks confused when I remind her it’s the same stuff.

What’s the most important thing about yesterday? Oh yeah. I finished quilting. Finally.

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I still had to grade first, so I didn’t start until after 10 PM.

This photo shows the actual finishing moment, but more importantly…

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The close up…I seriously had stopped paying attention to the thread. And I do have another partial spool, but this was close…

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And then some cloud quilting…

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People used to get pissed that I don’t quilt differently. I really just outline the shapes and fill in the background usually. The quilting just holds it together and provides an outline. I’m letting the fabric carry the image…not the quilting. There’s an argument for that.

Speaking of fabric, I needed a binding. And some other things spoke to me while I was there…

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I had a batik moment…but also, I often look for shortages…whatever I felt like I was missing in the last quilt, or colors I know are always an issue.

I also had laid this out…it’s not the next one, but a few down the road. That bird is a goner.

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But then the cat puked on part of it. Sigh. It was one of those nights.

I meant to post all of these, but honestly, I don’t have time to do all of them. So a little at a time. Pangeaseed has a program called Sea Walls that is murals highlighting issues in our oceans, mostly environmental stuff. They were in San Diego (again…they’ve been here before) a week or so ago, so we headed out to track some of them down…this one is in North Park across from a Jack in the Box (and you can find all of them on that website)…

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This is by Lauren YS.

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All the murals were painted in about a week, which is crazy, if you ask me.

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And it’s about ocean acidification, if I remember right.

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There will be more…

*Gillian Welch, The Way It Goes


Nobody Knows Me at All*

September 19, 2016

A short and quiet song to start the day…because it’s Monday and whatever the music app plays sets the tone for the day. Sometimes. This morning it’s quiet and a little folksy and guitar and pure voice. That might get me through the day.

As usual, I didn’t get everything done. I never do. It’s the wonder of being a teacher and an artist. There’s never a stopping point. There are marks I aim for, stopping points. Progress checks. I did finish the outline quilting last night, and then started the background, of which there is very little. I wanted to be done with the quilting yesterday, but school took up the entire afternoon. I have two days of training this week, so I had to prep for the sub. Ugh. Two days of sub…I’m going to come back to chaos. Not looking forward to that.

I had everything done up until the last figure’s head…the biggest head in the piece…

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And then the clouds above her head, where disasters reside.

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Quilting a rift in the ground, a bomb, that mushroom cloud, a burning church…she’s got plenty on her mind…

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Done. Upside down. Because I’m starting the background quilting right there…I think. I was debating using the same color thread as what I outlined with, which sometimes works…

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But when I tried it against the background fabric, there was a lighter color that worked better. I don’t have a full spool of it, but honestly, I don’t think I need a full spool. And I have two others that have a little bit on them. So I went for it.

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I should easily be able to finish the quilting today. Now binding is the issue. I always need supplies in the middle of the night, because that’s when I work…so I’m better off just pulling it off the machine this morning and taking it with me, so I can hit the fabric store after school. That will guarantee my ability to put the binding on whenever I finish quilting. And I have to tell you, I wasn’t expecting to be this far ahead. But I am. Good thing. There’s two for October (not as complicated as this)…and I’m so far behind in grading, I’m starting to panic. But it will be fine! Ha.

I’m a little stressed out.

From the inside of the house, this guy looked like a stick insect. But no…that looks like a praying mantis…not a pretty green one, but I don’t think we get pretty green anything here in dry desert world.

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Kitten would have been excited by that. She really likes lizards too.

This quilt is almost done. Mind-boggling. I really didn’t think I could get it done in time.

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All