Let It Run All over Me*

June 12, 2017

Busy weekend, working and music and art opening…I did manage some of that down time…which was a good thing. I didn’t disappear the to-do list though. It still lurks, reminding me that summer vacation is a misnomer…that teachers pick up all the pieces in summer that they’ve been dropping all year long. At least I might be able to sleep in an hour or two. At least I won’t have to deal with 12-year-olds for 8 weeks. I might get more free time. I’ll certainly have more time for exercise, especially hiking. I’m looking forward to that.

But first we survive the last week of school. And that is not a small thing, for teachers or students.

So first of all, I have three pieces hanging at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts through June 24, part of the SAQA Untethered Thread exhibit…yes, I had three with no nudity (although the larger one is called NakedMan).

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You should check out the show…there are some very nice pieces in it.

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Then we headed over to the parentals for dinner…it’s been a while. Yes, Calli is still a conehead. Her foot troubles have been a pain. She’s a good dog. Just keeps conking us with the cone.

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She uses it to scoop up balls while playing fetch though.


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I did a bunch of grading this weekend…I’m basically done. I have a few more things that need to go in, but then that’s it. I need to do all the comments too. Ugh. Hate that.

I finished the one piece of trellis stitch that I hadn’t done on Friday.

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I did three nights on here…two on Sunday morning and one on Sunday night. Let’s see if I can remember what: the herringbone and cretan lines on the left, plus the fishy lazy daisies on the right.

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Now I’ll embellish off of them.

My parents’ dog is here for one night. We offer a special service. We will remove one dog’s worth of hair from your dog if you let them stay here. Yes, that’s right…one dog’s worth of hair.

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Such a deal. This dog sheds weird. The boychild did that. He wasn’t sure when to stop (before the dog has no hair?).

Then I decided I had earned art time. I traced for an hour or so…

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I did all the tiny tree parts, basically…from piece 71 to piece 176.

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I’m not sure how much I can really justify working on this in the next three weeks…unfortunately, it’s not on the to-do list. It will be, but probably after July 1. I think that’s when my vacation really starts. I hope.

*Van Morrison, And It Stoned Me

Tell Me Why It’s So*

August 26, 2016

Hey. First Friday of the school year. I’ve almost survived the first week. It’s gonna be a challenging year. Which is why I’ve come home every single day and launched myself into artmaking as soon as I could. I’ve walked dogs and gone to the gym and done some ball throwing and general lying on the floor so dogs could check in, but mostly, I’ve come home and made art. Luckily there’s been food in the fridge, so I haven’t had to do a lot of cooking.

And some time Wednesday night, my brain released most of the crap about AQS and their statement (I had already released the censorship part…it’s just irritating stupid crap that I will keep running into as long as I make the art that’s in my head). I’m in serious Fuck You mode on all of it now. I briefly considered making a quilt of a certain AQS high muckymuck with a penis coming out of her head, and then I grew up and continued on.

OK. I still have that image in my head, but I don’t have to make that quilt. Honestly, I don’t have time. And I don’t care enough about it to do that. I have a million other deadlines I’m dealing with right now, and I want those quilts NOT to be reactions to this, although the censorship angle…it works for a show I’m hoping to be in next Spring. So maybe that’s where I go. I was going that direction anyway. Honestly, so much of my work is feminist and/or based on women’s lives and experiences, that all this focus on a penis that was never there is kind of a slap in the feminist face. Or a highly amusing, ironic event that got my work some eyeballs they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. So there we are. Come for the imaginary penis! Stay for the real art!

This is how I keep my head straight. Well, as straight as it ever is.

Yeah, I saw SAQA’s statement. I saw it ahead of time. I honestly think they are trying to make all this work. I really really don’t want them to pull the whole exhibit because of this. And I am still concerned, because I think my work will still be an issue…and I know that because it’s pretty recognizable, there are probably jurors who will see it and think, um, do I want a Nida quilt in this show? And they’ll decide no. But they probably would have said no anyway. So thanks to the jurors who say yes. And I’m OK with the jurors who say no because it doesn’t fit. Because that happens. But yeah, the gut is still concerned. The brain has a tiny bit that worries all the time. Well. A not-so-tiny bit. I’ve told it to shut up and have a margarita and get back to me when it wants to worry about real shit, like paying for college.

I do exhibit in art shows too…but that’s a challenge as well. So. I guess I’m up for some more challenges. Bring it.

If it seems like I’m ironing all the time at the moment, it’s because I am. I have not organized this for two days. Wait. That’s not true. I organized it right before I started ironing because I couldn’t find anything.

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And it’s messy again. That’s my real issue with cleaning.

Kitten sat in the box and squished all the pieces down. I kicked her out, turned around, and she was back in it. Sigh. So it looks like less than yesterday, but I did all that detail stuff…hearts and veins and tattoos and lungs and hair and I don’t even know what else. A knife.

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I still have a rocket to do (they keep showing up in the last few quilts)…and the top part of the main figure’s face, because it’s not flesh colored. And then the clouds and everything (fucking tiny pieces) in them. So I realized this morning I really only have about 150 pieces left. I can do that. Not right now. Even though I’m already exhausted. And it’s morning and I have to get through a Friday with 140 7th graders on their first real lab day. Yeah. I’ll be FRESH when I get home. And after I go hang out with gamer buddies and maybe play games. Uh huh. No really. I usually do work on Friday nights too.

It’s a big quilt. Not as big as the last one. Taller than I am. Not that that means much.

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My students make cover pages for each science unit, and I always do one too. The girlchild says this is weirder than usual. The snake happened because I had this empty space and the kids said, “you’ve been talking about snakes getting loose all week…where’s your snake?” So I drew one. But he was up in the air, so he needed wings. And then he was too fat in the middle, so he must have just eaten. Probably shouldn’t fly so soon after eating.

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I kept calling the mad scientist female, and they were convinced it was a man. Oh my. Well we will have to change some of that shit this year. Yes children. Girls SCIENCE. That’s why she has pink pants. Because I would never wear pink pants, but in their minds, a male never would either, so they HAVE TO SEE HER as a woman. And I didn’t even give her boobs and a uterus. Ha! Yes. I think that hard about what I teach and how I teach it.

So today, we will science. And hopefully I will have more patience than yesterday.

The dogs aren’t helping. This is a brief moment of quiet truce. Otherwise it’s been chaos.

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I love making art. I love drawing. I love picking fabrics. I love ironing it all together and seeing the image appear. I love adding the stitching line and waiting for the official photographs. I love coming home almost every night and coming in here to iron or sew, or sitting on the couch with a pile of pieces that need to be cut out or with a binding that needs sewing. That’s the shit I need to remember. I love all that more than I love mailing it off for a show. Really. I do.

Thanks again for all the comments. I’m buried and overwhelmed with trying to answer all of them, but know that I’ve seen them. And they mean something to me.

*Tom Waits, Tell Me

You Won’t Find a Penis at AQS Grand Rapids…

August 13, 2016

Oh my. Oh dear. Censorship again folks…except this time, I’m being censored for something that’s not even there.

The SAQA exhibition folks were good enough to let me know that a viewer at AQS Grand Rapids, Michigan, had complained about a penis in one of my quilts at the  show and AQS was planning on pulling the quilt. (It’s already shown in Phoenix, AZ; Daytona Beach, FL; Lancaster, PA; and Paducah, KY, as part of the AQS QuiltWeek circuit).

So some person objected to my quilt and couldn’t just walk by, moving on to the next quilt (which is what I do when another Sunbonnet Sue shows its ugly head…I don’t call Fox News…I don’t pitch a fit and refuse to ever come back to another show.)…they had to demand it get pulled from the show.

OK. Um. But there’s no penis in that quilt. Seriously. There isn’t. There’s boobs and uteri and even a woman giving birth, but there’s no penis. None. I swear. I really don’t do a lot of penises and they’re bloody obvious when I do.

The quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (did she think the life jacket was a condom? Because it wasn’t. It really was a life jacket. And there isn’t a life jacket in the quilt either, just to confuse things even more.) and it’s part of SAQA’s People and Portraits exhibit, which has been traveling for years and through more cities than I can count. And she didn’t object to the 5-inch vulva in the quilt next to it, Fully Medicated.

Oh don’t worry…I’ll give you a nice big picture so you can do a Where’s Waldo and find Waldo’s penis for me. Because it’s not in there.

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It’s one thing to be censored because of nudity. I don’t agree with that either, but at least it’s not uncommon. It’s another thing to be censored for something that’s not even there. So Michigan, I’m sorry, but if you go to the show and you wanted to see my quilt, you should tell management…since that’s how I got pulled. Someone complained to management and said they’d never come back to an AQS show. And we don’t know if I’ll be allowed to have this piece in QuiltWeek at Chattanooga or Des Moines, so that’s still up in the air. So if you’re planning on going to those shows, you might want to let them know you’re expecting to see my quilt. I’m not going to tell you not to go if they don’t show it. Just tell them you’re not happy about it.

I’m disappointed in AQS’ response. Maybe you are too. Here’s a link to the people in charge of AQS in general…I don’t know who made the decision at the show, but these are the people on high. I’m waiting until they make a decision on the next two shows before I write them. Someone said something to me about this being a quilt show, so I can’t expect art sensibilities…well if that’s the case, AQS needs to stop having art quilt exhibits at their shows or have a clear policy on subject matter (I checked their current show entry forms and there is nothing about that). Plus show me where on my quilt is the thing that the woman imagined was there. Because they took her word over mine. And there is no penis in the damn quilt.

It’s frustrating. I don’t fit in the quilt world because I do art. I don’t fit in the art world because I do quilts. Thanks to Martha Sielman (the author of the book People and Portraits) and SAQA for trying to stand up for my work. Shame on AQS for caving to imaginary issues.

My work was recently in an article about censorship, written by Tanya Brown, in Textile Fibre Forum Issue 122.  I’m not the only one being censored.

Stitch Dialectic

April 12, 2016

I braved the rain Sunday for the opening of a local SAQA show, Stitch Dialectic.

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Sometimes, when I remember to make a quilt without boobs in it, I have a piece for this exhibit. Not this year, but I did find some pieces I really liked while I wandered around.

Canyon De Chelly, by Patricia Charity, had all this amazing textural complexity. It’s even better in real life (because you can ignore the unfortunate lighting).

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Broken, by David Charity, her husband, has a graphic quality, in this case both in image and subject matter, that I truly appreciate.

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Rusted, by Carol Sebastian-Neeley, is another one that is even more radiant in real life. The surface of her work was truly beautiful.

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Whidbey Island 5, by Sherri Foster, was simple but so textural, with lines of close stitching only visible up close.

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Siena Portal, by Carol Sebastian-Neeley, used that yellow hand-dyed fabric to create a sense of dimension.

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Close Reading, by Viviana Lombrozo, is ironically so much better up close. I should have taken a detail, but I was in a hurry. There’s hand-stitching everywhere in what looks like a secret alphabet.

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Waiting Expectantly, by Sherry Davis Kleinman, is simple, but so evocative of that last month, waiting for baby to come out. So few lines and limited detail create a beautiful portrait of her daughter.

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From the show postcard, Botanica Balboa and Floribunda Balboa, by Karen Cunagin. If you’re local, these quilts speak of Balboa Park.

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Kalamina Gorge, by Carol Sebastian-Neeley, has more of that complicated surface beauty that is hard to photograph.

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Bitmap, by David Charity, shows his sense of humor.

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Three-Eighths, by Catherine Baltgalvis, is exactly the kind of subtle yet complex quilt that I could never make, but appreciate for its visual interest.

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There were many other quilts to catch your fancy. It’s up until the 24th, so you should stop by.

Celebrating Silver: Awakening the Crone

November 1, 2014

I’m home from Houston and the opening of Celebrating Silver, one of SAQA’s 25th anniversary exhibits, so now I can show the whole quilt…you’ve seen details. I started working on it October 10, 2013, and finished January 18, 2014, not counting drawing time. It took 95 hours. Here’s the bird with eyeball…

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The weary mother and babe…

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The still perky maiden…

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The crone and her crown of thorns…

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An aging uterus and a protective bird…

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The ground in which she’s rooted…

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Awakening the Crone

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Finished in January 2014 ($3600), 40” w x 70 ½” h, opening in IQF Houston, TX, Oct 30-Nov, 2014; then traveling to IQF Chicago, IL, June 2015; Quilt! Knit! Stitch!, Portland, OR, Aug 2015; and the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, England, August 2016. There is video too of me talking about this, in two places. I’ll post those when I get them.

The Crone Emerges…

October 30, 2014

After Thanksgiving, I was ironing all the pieces down…here’s the biggest pieces of flesh on the whole quilt. I used up almost all of this fabric (which I really loved)…

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Pieces were piling up, and I was cutting them out as quickly as I could…

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Here’s all the fabrics that were used in the quilt.

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And here’s a pile of leftovers after I finish trimming stuff…

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After that, I sorted pieces, around the end of the year. I had about two more weeks of Winter Break left.

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I started ironing around New Year’s Eve and was done a few days later.

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No, I don’t have a life. Why do you ask?

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This bird was the beginnings of an idea in Julie’s mind to have me make the small bird quilts I did last summer…

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Ironing went quickly…

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I was motivated to get it done before school started up again.

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The maiden…

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Both of them together…

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The upper torso coming together…

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And Kitten on the crone’s shoulder. Every crone needs a cat.

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And this is where I started questioning my choice of background fabric.

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I actually laid the whole thing out on the purple fabric…purple that I loved. And then I rejected it. And went shopping for that blue…that eye-popping blue.

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Because that blue is what it needed to be. Here it is ironed down, waiting to be stitched down…

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Stitching it down, all in early January…

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The great thing about those vacation weeks is that I don’t have to do a whole lot of schoolwork.

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So I have more time to make art. She definitely has a marked face…

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I started quilting it on January 9. That’s probably about when I went back to school…

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Lots of outlining…

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I quilted it in 7 days during school. I was a little obsessed (honestly, I was running out of time).

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There’s all that detail again…

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And then I started quilting the background…

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The binding went on around the 17th and I was handstitching the night before I was supposed to take it to the photographer.

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The next post? Official pictures…

Starting Silver

October 29, 2014

On September 23, 2013, I started drawing a quilt that I meant to have drawn in July, early August at the latest…but then my life sort of exploded and I couldn’t focus. I had gotten into the 25th anniversary SAQA exhibit called Celebrating Silver, curated by Yvonne Porcella, on the strength of my description of silver as the color of age and experience, the crone versus the mother and the maiden…so I started by drawing the crone…

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This is two days of drawing, about a month after school started, when I am mostly exhausted when I get home from school…

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I made a copy of the page and then taped the copy to the next page to continue the drawing…

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And then I decided it sucked. I actually liked the start for the mother, but decided it just wasn’t working out…so I cut it off and started again.

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Better. Much better. So down to two pages…and I keep drawing. Then I start drawing up the sides…

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And I decide it needs to be longer and I add to the bottom…

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There is a size limit on this thing, but I cut really close to that limit. Go BIG! or don’t go at all, right?

Then I started numbering. Oh my.

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This thing has enough detail to kill me. And it almost did. One thousand two hundred and thirty-seven pieces. None of them very big.

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I started tracing it on Wonder Under in October…

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I finished right before I left for Houston last year…

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Lots of little tiny pieces…

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Which then had to be cut up…I didn’t even start until mid-November.

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This is the background fabric I originally chose for this quilt…

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Stay tuned to see what happened to that decision…right before I sorted all 1200+ of those tiny pieces, at the end of November.

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I started ironing them to fabric in late November…

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And trimming them as well. There are some things that are portable and some that aren’t…

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I can’t drag my whole stash around to iron stuff, but I can drag this shoebox around with a pair of scissors…

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The fabrics started piling up in December…I took a few days off ironing. Not sure why? School. Tired. Whatever.

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But eventually I got my focus on (realizing that time was getting TIGHT)…

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And finished ironing everything down to fabric on December 6.

More tomorrow…hopefully…if I have internet. I will be at the SAQA Meet and Greet Thursday at 5 at Houston, as long as flights fly and nothing bad happens. I will be tired! Yay! But I will be there. Like I told my dad, sometimes you just have to run away from all the crap…I totally grabbed all the stuff I needed to grade and ran away from school. I need to go back out and get meds and food and money for tomorrow, but I’m not going back there until Monday. You can’t make me.