Elemental Fiber

I keep forgetting to talk about my upcoming solo show in Pittsburgh. Like many of you, I got a show rejection, not surprising, but then the gallery where that show was going to be contacted me about a solo show at their satellite gallery, and that’s how this stuff happens. Very cool, and I appreciate the jurors who recommended my work for the space. It’s actually a glassed-in area of a public space in the BNY Mellon Center in downtown Pittsburgh (500 Grant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15219), and it’s the satellite gallery for Contemporary Craft. My exhibition, Elemental Fiber, will coincide with Fiberart International at the CC gallery, so that is also very cool. They looked at my work, had some tentative selections, then talked to lawyers (ah lawyers) and picked what they thought would work in the space. There is still nudity! It’s an interesting space, and my goal is to get there in the summer to see it (and Fiberart International, if possible), but I will miss the opening due to my daughter’s graduation from college.

So last night, after tutoring, I managed to pack up 7 quilts, shipping 6 to Pittsburgh and one to Form Not Function. Three boxes, 22.5 pounds of quilts.

It took a couple of hours to dehair everything, cut a few slats, I made a label for one yesterday, to make boxes, and negotiate all the shipping stuff. I’m dropping one this morning, and the boychild has to drive the other two to an official UPS Customer Service Center (only two in central San Diego, unfortunately). Such a pain, but totally worth it. You don’t think about the business side of making art quilts: entering shows, putting pictures up on websites, shipping work, publicizing it etc. It takes time and effort.

Same with the job. Yesterday, we realized we had some lab prep to do for tomorrow’s lab, and panic ensued. We had borrowed a magnetic stirrer (per the instructions) from the man’s workplace (nice of them to loan it to us) and made this stuff…

There’s a great video somewhere of me yelling Vortex! as the powder stirred into the water. Then we needed to make these glue strips…

So between the two of us, I think we have 5 experimental versions of this on different substrates. I finally put one batch in the oven last night, and this morning, I have what we need. But we’re pretty sure if we use the toaster oven that our principal got the school to bake glue that we will get into a shit-ton of trouble. Like that will stop us. Substrates used: white board, plastic covers, parchment paper, tin foil? (if she did it), even thought about wax paper or plastic wrap. Something about the smooth plastic doesn’t work as well…the glue pulls in on itself (“cohesion” and “friction” were commonly used last night in dinner-making conversation, as well as in texts with my co-teacher, which ended with us each buying shirts on Amazon, I think). Wanna nerd out? We can make that happen.

We just hope some version of the lab works. We also have our annual meeting with parents this afternoon to persuade them that their kid should take our reproduction unit (parents have the right to opt kids out)…it’s scary how many parents don’t want their kids to know anything. Plus then I have to place them elsewhere and give them an alternative assignment, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world. At this point, I’m up to 10 of them, which means having to grade all those alternative assignments at the last minute too. Sigh.

I didn’t even finish grading a whole assignment yesterday. I tried, but there was too much management that had to happen. Sometimes when we give them independent work, we end up having to micromanage it so that they’ll actually DO it. Sigh.

After all that, I think I cut out Wonder Under for maybe 30 minutes. But you know what? I cut it out for 30 minutes. That’s a good thing. I’d like the Wonder Under all cut out by the end of my Thursday quilt meeting. Then sort it. Then start ironing to fabric on Friday night. I’d like all the ironing done the following week, because we’re going to LA and I’d like to be cutting stuff out on that trip. Or done! I don’t think that’s a thing. Then I lose a weekend to Boston and the girlchild’s graduation (lots of drawing and embroidery then), but I can iron down and start quilting. Yikes. Time is tight. My phone says I have 44 days to finish, but it needs to go to the photographer before that. I can do it. It’ll be OK.

There are 924 pieces in this quilt, but most of them are pretty small. So it was just under 3 yards of Wonder Under. Last night, I finished the first full yard and did a chunk out of the 2nd yard. Not fast. But progress.

I do have more travel photos. I just couldn’t deal with them this morning. Hopefully tomorrow, but I have to be up early two mornings running for meetings. Woo hoo! Sleep. Ugh. Go to bed early? Get no work done. Go to bed late? Brain stops functioning. Must regulate mood today. Deep breaths. A walk after work with the dogs and the boychild. Looking forward to that.

Revel In It…

The weather was truly beautiful this weekend…hints of warmth, but cool enough that you might need a sweater at times. Beautiful blue skies, birds singing everywhere, some wispy clouds in the sky…definitely Spring-like. I wish I’d spent more of it outside, but that was the way the weekend went.

I had a huge mess going on in the office/studio…

So I spent time on Saturday trying to get it under control.

I can’t start ironing for a new quilt without putting everything away…I stacked up all the loose fabrics by color and started organizing…

Kitten did not help…

She never does.

Then I went off to meet a friend for pottery painting…and wine…

Very relaxing…came back home and headed out for dinner. There really is no excuse for making my wine green.

Seriously. It wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. We came home and put a movie on and I tried to bust out this monster binding that I have not been working on…

I realized I hadn’t finished a quilt yet this year, and that never happens. It’s March! I should finish something. So I’m going to. But not Saturday night…Satchemo was so happy to have both of us on the couch…

He can be a very needy beast.

Now it’s ready for ironing. That table is clear, the ironing board is clear…pretty good.

But there were things to grade and stuff to do…here’s where I sat down and figured out the week…

Someone should clear off the table…again.

Eggshell pieces on the front porch…I haven’t seen any expectant parents around there…

Who knows what happened.

So we had a play to go to in the afternoon, but I wanted all this ready to go for when I came back…drawing hung, boxes of pieces ready to sort.

Background fabric ready to match…oh wait, after dinner, more stitching…

I finished all the binding and one sleeve…just one to go. This thing is huge. Then I graded for a while. I can’t NOT grade right now. Finally though! Into the studio and sorted the first hundred pieces…

It’s all dirt and rocks…

I made a run of 8 for the dirt, plus some other stuff that was in there…roots and a hole or two. Then on to the rocks…

Five different grays for the rocks…

I made it through most of the first 100 pieces…only 700 to go.

I guess I can hope I’ll be done ironing by the weekend. I think it’s unlikely, due to three nights out this week…but I can hope. This is one of my favorite parts, that’s for sure. So I’m going to be putting in some hours on it.

Kitten guarding my space…

But first, I’m going to school and hopefully having a much better day than Friday. Because I might notionally in my head sacrifice someone to the science goddess otherwise. Not really. But seriously, they can’t be as braindead as they were on Friday (sure, they could be worse…). Deep breaths. Positive thoughts. It’s still a gorgeous day. Revel in it.

Thanks for Showing Me Your Swiss Army Knife*

My cat freaks me out. I’m sitting here, typing at (staring at?) the computer, and she’s sitting there watching me, and then all of a sudden, she snaps her head up toward the ceiling and is STARING, like there’s a demon punching through the ceiling, so I stop (immediately) what I’m doing and stare at whatever space of bumpy ceiling SHE is staring at…and I see nothing. All the hairs on the back of my neck are up, but…ghost? Bug? She’s just fucking with me? I just don’t know.

Yeah, like WTF is that, cat?

Right now, there’s a dog under my feet, trying to catch the cereal I drop. I do drop cereal. He’s not stupid. It’s a smart place to be. Not a very fulfilling life, if you ask me, but he does ask for (and get) lots of pets.

I’ve made this pattern of getting the hell off school campus at least once a week to take the dogs out. It’s so much easier when we get more daylight (I think we’re past 5:15 PM for sunset at this point, so that helps)…I’m glad we chose (well, I chose) this hike yesterday, because there was lots of water still. Straight in front of us is the path…underwater.

It’s OK…it doesn’t take much to go around it.

There was water everywhere…

Friday we had like 3/4s of an inch…plus more on Saturday and Monday. That’s a lot for us.

It was chilly here yesterday…in fact, I think it was warmer where the girlchild is in Boston than it was here.

Nice clear skies though…we were pushing sunset, as always.

We saw one baby coyote, giant ears, rushing toward a hiding spot. And the vernal pool was full.

Just a few weeks ago, it was totally empty. Or at least only a damp spot. Ah nature.

Then back to the house and a million tasks, including a dinner made by moi. I was surprisingly efficient (although I didn’t spell either of those two words correctly the first time…I’m tired.). I spent some time dealing with emails and a list of possible pieces for my upcoming solo show in Pittsburgh. Looking forward to that…and this guy, still needing pets.

Never-ending mopey furball. He’s sweet. When he’s not barking his mad little head off.

Oh yeah, I also set fire to a lot of things in science today…

There was a lot of squealing for that.

Well it’s finally time for quilting this beast. It won’t be fast or easy, but it’s fun.

I didn’t get very far…I only had about an hour and a bit. First I had to fight the thread a little bit. As always. Every time, the machine has to be set up slightly differently to work right. It’s a guessing game. Plus this thing is huge, so it has to be manhandled to quilt it. Anyway, I guess you know what I’ll be doing with the next 20 hours of my free time. I do need to get it done though. The next one doesn’t exist on paper yet and it’ll be due sooner than I like…and the one after it is soonish too, and I’ll be on Spring Break for part of it, freezing my ass off in some campsite.

I’m looking forward to that actually.

So I got Figure 1’s bottom half done, and part of the hand that crosses her from Figure 5…

And then I wandered over into Figure 2…

There was some logic to how I did the stitchdown, and I seem to be following that order for the quilting. I should think about quilting all the in-between spaces as I do the outlining…maybe admit now that I will be using the same color? Or not. Decisions.

Right now, the decision is to get my act together and go to work. And be a productive member of society. Or at least get some grading done. That would be good.

*Laurie Anderson, Let X=X

My Head’s Above the Rain and Roses*

Yesterday a kid muttered while we were all working, “Yeah, Ms. Nida knows how to color stuff in.” Hmmm. Well. That’s something. I do have years of experience in coloring, although I used to do more of it. I used to screenprint my art, and I would make two copies of the original drawing, one for tracing the next screen iteration and one to color in, so I would know what colors things would be. I don’t do that any more. Can you imagine trying to color in a quilt this size with colored pencils? I’d be here for days. Months. So now I do it in my head. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. A lot of things go on in my head. I’m thankful my brain allows that. It’s not always the best brain. It’s a worrywart. It responds to stress in a sometimes inappropriate way. It’s not always clear on tact. But it draws and colors like a beast. I think my 12-year-old brain would be absolutely thrilled by what my brain can do now.

Although more sleep would always be appreciated. I was convinced by the end of the day that yesterday was Friday. (It was not.) I sat there grading last night on the couch, almost falling asleep (certain hours of the day really kick my butt cognitively), sure that I was sleeping in this morning (I did not. Because it’s not Saturday.). Painful realization. I’m trying to get caught up on grading, which is a never-ending proposition, but all of a sudden, I was significantly behind and I panicked. I finished one assignment last night and input some grades and got most of the way through another assignment. It’s progress. This weekend is a clusterfuck, though, so I need to be on task.

It meant I didn’t get as far with the ironing as I wanted…I didn’t leave myself enough time to finish…

First I pulled the torso off the teflon with Kitten watching…

And then I started ironing the head together…

She has a bee on her cheek and then a leaf with a beetle. At 12:06 AM, I decided that would be at least another 30 minutes and I couldn’t do that. So I went to bed. But now I really want to see it done tonight. I want to see all the heads in one place, all connected. The plus is that I’m not in charge of dinner tonight, so I have a chance of pulling this off. The minus is that I really do need to grade stuff as well. So we’ll see how that goes. I’m excited though. I haven’t seen this thing in color, except in my head, and it’s nowhere near as vibrant in there as it is here. Plus the contrast against a dark background is going to make it pop. Geez, call in sick and finish it! No. That’s not responsible. I’m mostly responsible.

Yesterday’s unit cover page for my science kids…

A nice relaxing day coloring with the kids. Except the ones who are never relaxing.

Next week is a bunch of labs, so I should enjoy today’s quiet (they’re watching videos and figuring stuff out without my help)…well, I’ll be grading and trying to get those kids on task who are never on task. I think my co-teacher will be on her third day in a row of labs today, so she should be losing her shit. It’s so hard not being on the same page…we’re too used to working together and supporting our nervous breakdowns. When she finishes piloting this unit, we’ll be back. In 6 weeks. I have my own stints of labs coming up.

Simba in his lookout position, ready to guard us from any intrusions…

Sweet little asshole. He did not help with the grading though. And I think he’s really part cat.

OK. Now it really IS Friday and I am dead tired. But I’ll survive and rally and hopefully really really iron this thing together tonight, instead of all the other nights I thought I’d iron it together. Yeah. Hopefully.

*Green Day, Still Breathing

The Sun’s Zooming in*

Go vote. Now. Unless you’re like me and you already did…dropped the ballot envelope off at the library on Sunday. Everyone associated with my house has voted now. Good stuff. May the force be with us.

I’m at home. Grades are done, unless those two girls with non-working websites email me before I leave for the ultrasound. I did in fact get up early to eat and drink stuff before the deadline. We’ll see if it helps. I then tried to go back to sleep, but no. Dogs. Cats. Brain awake. So much for sleeping in. I suck at it.

I do still have grading to do…it never ends. I have to write sub plans for the days I’ll be in Boston. But what I really want to do, besides walk the dogs, is finish ironing.

I started late again last night, mostly because of grading. Ready to pick out flesh…I went through all 6 boxes of pink and finally found the right transition between 4 and 6 in the last bin.

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I laid out all the fleshy pieces…

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And I started ironing them down. It’s a weird puzzle I do…

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How do I save the most fabric but fit all the pieces on there? Like that.

It was after midnight and I looked at the clock and thought, ugh. Gonna have to be up early. So I left the last two fabrics for this morning.

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The box is getting fuller.

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So that puts me in the 600s, but I have all the innards and hair to do. Mostly bones and cardiovascular stuff. So that’s also this morning. Or afternoon.

This was yesterday in class…

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We’re piloting a new unit and it’s difficult. Mostly because I don’t have access to all the electronic stuff, and then my kids don’t either, plus I keep getting myself absent, and this curriculum is not at all friendly to guest teachers. Or to taking a rest from talking, for that matter. Lots of direct instruction.

Anyway. I’m going to shower and NOT eat or drink anything for a while and then go get this thing done so they can show me a picture of the alien in my gut. And then work and iron and all that stuff.

*The Clash, London Calling

Three-Dog Late Afternoon

Weekends are for catching up on sleep. For catching up on errands, although I did a pretty good job of that on Thursday. For catching up on grades, unfortunately. And hopefully for a little free time and relaxation. I’m going to see the Visions exhibit this evening…looking forward to that.

But before that, I gotta wake up. Ugh. My head.

I walked the dogs again on Friday…by myself this time…

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I took them over three miles, trying to tire them out. It worked. Tired me out too…but then I’d already had a long walking day at work. The kids played a rock cycle game and I always have a few who need me to walk them through it. It went well otherwise though. My legs were dead by the time I got to the dog-walking part of the day, but it was good for all of us.

After dinner, I eventually persuaded my legs to stand up again. I didn’t trace for long, because I didn’t realize how late it was…but I’m in the 300s now. I wanted to be much further along, as always. So tracing is on my list for today as well. A nice big fat chunk of it please.

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I sat for a bit…Satchemo love…and Simba putting up with the cat.

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Who knows whether he likes it. He always looks nervous. That cat has sharp pointy bits.

Anyway. Art tonight, by other people, hopefully making my own as well. Same for tomorrow. I’ll never get caught up with grading anyway.

Happy birthday to my dad, who is hopefully still in Spain (if he’s not, I don’t know where he is)…he’ll be home soon, and then his dog will be at HIS house, making all the caterwauling noises that she makes. Plus walking the dogs will be easier.

Exciting Piles of Wonder Under in My Future

‘Tis early. My brain is fog. Or oatmeal. Not sure which. Oatmeal is stickier. So that.

Yesterday’s lab was much mellower than the previous two days. Maybe that’s because I’d done it before? Or because it was more like direct instruction instead of their reading instructions. Reading is always an issue for us…so many language learners.

Calli had to go to the vet yesterday, more pee issues, but at some point, the boy decided the little one needed some exercise. There’s playing that happens when Katie’s not here, but Katie has toy issues and Calli has jealousy issues, so we hide all the toys while Katie visits…which sucks for Simba.

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He likes toys.

Calli isn’t allowed to play because she’s a bully. She gets sticks thrown for her outside. Katie doesn’t actually fetch anything…she just tries to herd everyone who is fetching. It’s a pack of dogs…not just two.

After dinner, I didn’t do any grading. I figure I will do a bunch today. I took the day off to sit in a waiting room hopefully for not too long. But it means I’ll have some wait time there and here at home, so I can get a chunk of grading done.

So I started tracing pretty early last night. I was starting to think I was totally OK on time with this, but then realized I’m going to Boston and I don’t know what’s happening with Thanksgiving. So I panicked.

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I traced for about 3 1/2 hours and got two yards mostly filled…and another one started.

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I’m only in the mid 200s though. They were fussy pieces to trace. So I’m a quarter of the way through and it took about 3 1/2 hours. So another 10+ to go? I’ll do some tonight (maybe today? Although right now, a nap sounds lovely) and some tomorrow night, but that won’t get me done. We’ll see.

Anyway, gotta get out of here. Exciting piles of Wonder Under in my future.