frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Got Any plans?

I picked up this quilt recently, it had been half-done for at least 2 months. I still want to add some beads to it, kind of as a way to quilt the parts that are still puffy. I had not done any sewing in so long.

I am home today, using my very last vacation day. I'm glad, because it has been SO boring at work. Next year they are going to shut the whole place down between Christmas and New Year. It makes a lot of sense, because they are heating and lighting a giant office complex, mostly for nothing. There is hardly anyone there, and no one
is really doing anything. Just hanging around, surfing the internet and eating cookies. The down side is that you are forced to use your own vacation days for the shut down. Most of us have a lot of vacation time, but some do not. Those without are unimpressed. Who knows if we will even have jobs by then?

I start college on Monday!  I'm scared and excited. It's hard to guess how much of my time this will take up, but I assume I will have less time for blogging and such. I have already completed an on-line orientation which is designed to teach you how to use the software and the online library. I'm impressed with it so far. I hope all this makes a difference in my life, maybe opens some doors. I'm so burnt out on my job that I can't quit, it's brutal.

Kate has had her laptop for a week and I just figured out how to hook it up to our wireless network THIS MORNING! The first couple of days after Christmas were very busy and I didn't even get to look at it. Then I started the process. I am so friggin' lame at computer stuff. When there is a problem, I am usually stumped. Fortunately I have a supply of young tech geeks at work who can listen to me try to explain a problem and figure out what the heck it is that I am missing. Then I go home and I can't find the thing they told me about, or I misplaced the piece of paper with the instructions, or it just won't work... anyway, that is behind me now and Kate can do all the things she wants to do.

I am going on a date tonight!  This is what my husband told me. He has a friend whose girlfriend broke up with him because he never wants to do anything she does. I think this sparked Joe to offer to take me to the movies. I love to go to the movies but it is so hard to find one that he is willing to see, that we rarely go. Get this, I am married to a man who hates violent action movies! I can take a certain amount of violence for the sake of the story, but he can't stomach anything. It really rules out quite a few good films. On the other hand, he is very willing to see all manor of art house-foriegn-costume drama-chick flicks. Tonight we are going to see Young Victoria. We are also having dinner, most likely Thai food, which I love. I think I will get dressed up, even though it is freezing out.

It occurs to me that it is New Years Eve. I keep forgetting. We don't generally attend any parties. I assume we will be home in time to have some champagne at midnight.

You got any plans?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Longwood Gardens at Christmas

Here is what I did yesterday. Longwood Gardens is one of my favorite places in the world. I have been several times, but never at Christmas. My husband knew I wanted to go, and he suggested it. This is a big deal, because he hates the drive (90 miles to S. Pennsylvania) and he assumes that since millions of people go, it will suck. He did this for me!

The drive is long, but the place was wonderful, he even had to admit it. We had fine weather considering it is the end of December, and the beauty surpassed the experience of shuffling around amoung the unwashed masses. I've never seen so many wheelchairs and motorized rascals in one place before. i think most folks in wheelchairs don't really need them. I think that since there is a lot of walking, people just rent these things so they don't get tired. I saw children that had to be 8 or 9 years old in strollers.

Anyway, great fun, and it got even better once the sun went down. Pictures can not do it justice. How do you get that many lights on a tree? How do you get that many lights on hundreds of trees?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Interesting Diversion

I was just visiting the Idaho Beauty blog and she sent me over to the Smithsonain Institute website to look at artist's home made Christmas cards. There are so many to see and I was fascinated!

I feel inspired to make my own, but I will wise up and do it all year. It's just folly to think that you will do this at Christmas time. For me, it's enough just to get the cards written and out the door.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

City Scenes

Here are some scenes from The City yesterday. I'll be damned if I can figure out how to format with Blogger. I think it is really weak.

Anyway, we had fun, we began our march up 5th avenue and systematically saw all the store windows. We especially loved the Bergdorf-Goodman windows which were positively surreal. Kate and I are stamding in front of one of them. Unfortunately it is difficult to really get a decent picture of a store window. You usually end up with a better shot of the reflections behind you.

We are having  something like 15 people over my house on the 19th and I am so not ready. I just can't get that worked up about it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big City Day

Time has been whipping by lately. Cookie making, party going, shopping. Nothing that you haven't been doing. Today, however, I have a day off and Kate and I are going into the big city to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, and all of the store windows, and whatever else we come across. The schedule is loose, some excellent girl time. I'll take pictures.

In other news, phase one of the attic project is done. Just in time to get bins of stuff out of the porch. Now when people come over for Christmas it won't look so slummy.

It's been really slow at work, and, as you know, an idle mind is the devil's playground. With me that took the form of eBay. Wow, just in time, because I really needed some more funky old Christmas decorations. They now show up every day, plus I indulged some of my other collections, namely Hull Mirror Brown. Pictures of this stuff soon.

Finally, I had an Etsy sale. Sometimes I am amazed at what I sell. None of the little Christmas ditties I made, but a weird collage from way back called Saint's Breakfast. I should get it together to take picture of my older collages and get them up on Etsy. I need to make room for more Christmas stuff.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

White Christmas

Here are some pictures of our tree. I like how you can see that it has snowed outside. That snow came heavy and wet on Saturday, but it is mostly gone now.

You can't really tell that the tree is turning yellow, right?

I used a flash on this photo. It doesn't look so nice, but you can see some of my fave ornaments.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Cards

Here is a post from Sunday that I never finished. Now it's Monday and I may as well just post it.

Hello! This morning I am writing Christmas cards. I bought my cards last year, on sale. I have Frank Lloyd Write Christmas cards, that are very cool. I was happy to find them. However, now that I am looking at them, I think that most of the people on my list will be baffled. They are not really all that traditional. Oh well! I actually went out an bought my parents a separate card.

Kate and I were talking about the big tree in Rockefeller Center in NYC. Her and I are going in next Tuesday to see the lights and windows and, of course, the tree. She has the day off and I am taking that day, so it will be a mother/daughter extravaganza. We just googled the tree to see where it came from this year.

A lot of people commented on my last 2 posts. THANKS! It seems that many of us don't care much for malls. I'm thinking that it is something in us, whatever makes us want to make art, makes us... I'm lost for words. Can't wait to start taking those communication classes in January!  We are a little out of the main stream, and the mall represents the main stream... with a really strong current?

I liked hearing how everyone does their decorating. I remember it being a way different thing with small children!

Doreen asked me if I went to college for art. Yes, I did. I wanted to go to college for art when I was finished with High School. "They" wouldn't let me. I didn't understand how I could make that happen for myself at the time. I went to college for art when I was 32 years old. I have an AA degree, plus a few credits. It would be great to finish that degree, maybe some day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Decorations

I know that some people hate Christmas. I understand that. There really is a lot to hate about it. I went to the mall yesterday after work. I believe that much of what there is to hate about Christmas is concentrated there.

Understand that I haven't been to the mall in maybe 2 years. Don't get me wrong, I shop. I just don't travel too far to do it.So, I get to the mall, and traffic is awful, but I park and run in, through Bloomingdales. I am immediately dazzled. Sparkley dresses. Skinny black jeans. Women wanting to spray you with perfume. Out in the mall, there are giant ornaments hanging from the ceiling. A lot of the stores have changed. More upscale than I remember. Fancy Shopping Bitches everywhere. I make my way to the Apple store, and buy the computer, plus a wireless mouse, plus a electronic drawing tablet. (How lucky is Kate?) I also buy an external hard drive for the family computer, since it is groaning under the weight of so many photos and MP3s. $1200 lighter, I'm back in the mall. I should look in these stores, right? I won't be back here any time soon. But you know, I couldn't bear it, I was overwhelmed, over stimulated. I did stop at Aldo Shoes, where I saw the most delicious boots. But no, I had to go. Joe was waiting at home with wine and cheese.

I have to laugh, what kind of person have I become that I can't stand to even be in the mall?

Here are some decorating pictures. I know some people don't decorate at all. That's cool. You should not decorate if you don't feel like it. Or, conversely, you should put lights on every square inch of your house if you want to. In fact, thanks for doing that. It's so entertaining as I drive home from work every day in the dark!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Guerrilla Knitters 

Check this link out, it is really fun! It makes me want to do some Guerrilla Art. When I was in college I had a sculpture class. One of our assignments was to create something in a multiple of at least 100. I took 100 fist-sized rocks and covered them with pink knit fabric. Then I put them in a spiral pattern on the banks of the Raritan River, where you could see them from a bridge. I would walk by every day, and I noticed that people were messing around with them. They were making new patterns and moving the rocks around. That was cool. I live near the Delaware river now. I could do that again.

I want to put up my Christmas tree this weekend. This is my fake-ass white Christmas tree. If you are going to have a fake tree you may as well not even try to pretend it's real, you know? Did I ever tell the story of this tree? If I did, sorry.

My parents are city people, and I grew up with a fake tree. As I got older, that became the height of tackiness. My first husband grew up with a real tree, so we always had one. The year I separated from him, I went out on my own and bought a real tree, and struggled to get the thing home, drag it up the stairs, set it up, etc. I decided I didn't really need to do that anymore. I found a 7 foot fake white tree for $40 the following September. That was 1998. I got it up from the basement last night and noticed that it looked yellow. YELLOW! Perhaps it was the culmination of an annoying week, but this sent me spiraling into a bad mood. Now what was I going to do? I was planning to decorate the next night! (tonight) Joe had a look at it and said it looked fine, that no one would notice. I decided he was right. I set the tree up, the branches are color coded, you know. I think it is over for this tree after this year.

I have so many Christmas ornaments, that I break them out by color and do theme tees. Last year I did pink and gold. This year it is blue and green. I have big mixing bowls full of ornaments in the LR right now. The problem with a white tree is that you need to get lights with white wires. I have them, don't you worry, but we also have icicle lights with BLUE lights. I think I am going to put those on the tree this year. It's gonna be spiffy.

But, that is tomorrow. I was going to go to the mall tomorrow, but I decided that would suck, so I am going tonight. I don't live very close to any malls, so I rarely go, but this year Kate asked for a laptop computer, and there is an Apple store in the Bridgewater mall.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Art Club Christmas Project

Check it out, here is one of the ARC clients with a bunch of others in the background. Kind of gives you an idea of how many of these things we cranked out! (13) I gave everyone the choice of sewing buttons to their snowmen, or drawing the eyes, mouth and etc to the snowmen with markers. A distressing amount of people chose to sew! It all worked out and I think they enjoyed themselves. Go to my other blog for more pics.

Tonight I am going to another one of those Department of Developmental Disabilities meetings to find out how difficult my life will be as a result of new proceedures. I guess that's not a very good attitude, is it? I was thinking how it might be nice if Kate's father took on some of this responsibility, but he is such an amazing DICK, he is incapable. He is chronically unemployed and doesn't even have a car. Don't worry, I'll take care of everything!!!!!!!!!

How are you all doing?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm Feeling Quiet

I haven't been posting, or even commenting on the posts of others. I feel a little exhausted. But it's weird, because I don't feel bad, just like being quiet.

I have been pretty busy. At work, there are things to do to get ready for the end of the year. I just finished my personal performance grid. How corporate is that? This is the document that states my goals for the year, if I completed them, and how I accomplished everything, and why I deserve a nice raise and bonus.  Everyone hates doing this but there is no way around it. It is due December 1st and I have had several people sneer at me with envy and disgust when I announced I was finished. Also, I've been acquainting myself with all of the websites I will need to use in connection with Drexel University. I usually end up confused at first, somehow screwing up or forgetting my username, password, ID number, etc. I am already on a first name basis with one of the tech guys.

Over the weekend I dug out and reposted on Etsy some things I did for Christmas last year. It would be nice if I could sell them. I also made more prints of antique Christmas postcards on fabric. I will make something out of all that soon. I'm almost done with another woodland postcard. I did some experimental stove top dying over the weekend. I used RIT cocoa brown. Man, is it ever brown. I have no idea what I am doing with all that.

I'm feeling a little bit Christmassy. Looking forward to digging into the decoration boxes. I agreed to go to Cape Cod over the weekend with Joe. He used to live there and has a lot of friends he misses. Thanksgiving weekend is normally decorating time, but I guess I'll just do it when I get back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

(Catchy Title Needed Here)

I just have some scattered thoughts to put out there today.

First of all, the question was put to me, what are you going to do with the snake? Well, I was thinking I would make a hundred of them, all out of different fabric, make up little stories about them and put them all on Etsy. It will be the next Beanie Baby-like craze, and I will make millions. Cool fantasy? By the way, did you notice I put a rattle on his end? Made of stacked buttons.

On Sunday, we worked on the attic. Joe is still working on the small section over the addition. This is the section that you can't stand up in, but will create a lot of new storage space. He was building out the studs on the wall, because they are too shallow to contain the insulation. If that doesn't make sense, don't worry about it, it is just a dreary detail. Next he will put a moisture barrier over the whole thing, then sheets of particle board so that no holes accidentally get poked into the moisture barrier. I expect this stage to be done sometime in December, because Thanksgiving is bound to interrupt.

While he was doing that, I was prying "cymbals" out of the roof joists in the main part of the attic. You may remember me describing the weird, old, filthy insulating paper someone had put up sometime during the last century. Well, they nailed up a hundred or so of these metal disks, that look like little cymbals, to hold up that paper. I already ripped off the paper, but these things remain, and they need to be removed before Joe can do anything else. I was bending the edges with a pair of needle nose plyers, and them prying them the rest of the way off with a claw hammer. It was miserable. I had emptied out this part of the attic, but it is now partially filled again with building materials, such as giant bundles of insulation, so I could not get to every "cymbal." I must have pulled 50 of them, and this is just one side of the attic!

In other news, I started feeding my Christmas addiction again. I've decided that my favorite part of Christmas is decorating for it. I've been collecting old ornaments. I have some that are very old, but mostly, I'm collecting 40's, 50's and 60s. I can actually afford the things from that era, and I don't have to get angry if they get broken. I like the old glass Shiny-Brites, but I've also become intrigued with some of the plastic ones. I like to see how designers started playing with these new materials. It would be hard for me to describe exactly what I look for, but it does need a certain quality, I don't know... naive space age?  I guess I will need to post some pictures at some point.

Anyway, we had another nice day yesterday, so after working in the attic, Joe invited me to come along for a motorcycle ride. I went, even though I would rather we just worked longer in the attic. I find that there are rewards for indulging him. Like as we were riding past one of my favorite antique stores, he said, "You want to stop?" You bet I want to stop. This place was just starting to put out their Christmas stuff. I found a couple of good things and I started my routine: "Oh my God, I have so much stuff, I really shouldn't. It's crazy, blah blah blah. Joe then responds, "Awe, come on honey, go ahead and enjoy yourself." "Nuff said. He's an enabler for sure. I added an ornament with a funky shape, but the paint is not shiny. These were made during WWII, when they would not spare the metal for Christmas ornaments. I also got a funky as hell blue tinsel tree. Oh, I also have a collection of little trees, and little houses (the made in Japan kind) and little plastic deer...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


New work by Kate on Etsy

Here is Kate's latest art quilt, finished not one hour ago. Hot and fresh!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Snakes, Yet

I was all set to make snakes today, then I thought that maybe I should start working out the next project I have planned for Art Club. I decided we could make snowman wallhangings. I am scheduled to do it December 1st, and that is coming up in a hurry. I made a sample today to be sure my ideas were sound. I intend to do most of the work up front. I'll have the background ready, I'll iron fusable onto all the different fabric components. I will draw the shapes and let the artists cut them out and fuse them. I 'll let people decide whether or not they will sew buttons or use fabric markers to put on the details of the snowman. Hopefully we can manage this in the 2 hours we'll have.

I actually did start a snake today. I need to figure out how I want to do the eyes. It's not in the pattern, but I want to make a tongue. I think my snakes will all have rattles. I'll show you tomorrow

Friday, November 13, 2009

Making Snakes

This morning I became aware of Drew's alarm going off. His alarm is an i-pod, blasting the most insane music. He wakes up at 4:30 am to go to work, and he needs nothing short of a bomb to get him up. He tells a story of sleeping through a rocket attack once when he was still in the Marines.

Anyway, sometimes I don't hear it at all, but this morning I did. When he didn't turn it down after a while, I thought maybe he wasn't waking up. I went to his room, but he was awake, and he said to me, "Do you know we have no milk?" Being out of milk in the morning at my house is like a tragedy. Everyone NEEDS milk for their coffee. So I left $5 in the bathroom and told him to buy it. He did.

I was glad the exchange took place, other wise I'd have woken up to no milk, but just the same I remained awake from then on. I was laying in bed thinking about making snakes.

Yesterday evening I was to take Kate to social group, as is normal on a Thursday. This week it was cooking, and it was Kate's turn to bring a guest. Usually I end up being her guest, but this time she invited her job coach who still checks in with Kate at her job at the supermarket. Joe mostly does his own thing on those evenings, but this time he wanted to come with me and offered to take me out for Thai food. AWESOME! After a delicious dinner, he and I went to the Library to chill for a while. He took out a biography of Groucho Marx. I took out a bunch of books, a big one about fabric designs, an art quilt picture book, a book about piecing techniques and one about making stuffed toys. I previously had no interest in making softies, but I was flipping through and came across a pattern to make stuffed snakes. I don't know, they looked so funny, and so simple to make, that I decided I needed to take out the book. That brings us back to me lying in bed thinking about making snakes. I have some ideas about how to make the snakes "Mundy style." I showed it to Kate and she is down with that, but she also pointed out a little bird pattern. I would not exactly call it difficult, but way more involved than that snake. She thinks we should sell them on Etsy

I'm looking forward to another weekend with nothing particular to do. Joe plans on working in the attic some more. Slow but sure, I guess. I've been having a fantasy about having an open studio when it is finished, and inviting people like it was a party. I'll have plenty of time to plan it, apparently.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Son, the Veteran

Today is veteran's day, so I thought it would be a good day to talk about my son. When he was 5 years old he began to request military haircuts. At that time it was popular to not let your children play with toy guns. Drew would make his own gun, out of a banana, his LEGOs, a branch from a tree. When he was 6 years old he would make me read him articles from Time magazine during the gulf war. He had wanted to join the Marines since he was 12. I honestly did not think he was the type; he was one of those people that just always marched to a different drummer, so to speak. I tried to buy him any books I could find that I thought would give him a realistic idea of what he was getting into, but, it didn't change his mind, so, in he went, 2 weeks after his 18th birthday. I remember the recruiters picked him up at some ungodly hour, like 3am, to take him to Paris Island. My parents were there to say good bye.

I downloaded a chart that showed you what he would be doing every day for the three months he was at Paris Island. I wonder if I still have that anywhere? I would think, today Drew will be rappelling off of a 20 foot high wall! I didn't speak to him for all that time, but we did have a lively exchange of letters. I still have all of them. If I had thought of it, I would have scanned one to show you, some of them were down right hilarious. He's a good writer.

When he was done with Paris Island, we went to see him graduate. It was a great proud moment. Especially considering there were people in my family that had doubts that he would make it. After Paris Island he went to North Carolina for infantry training, then to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for MOS training. Finally, at the end of January he arrived at Camp Pendleton where he was to be stationed. As soon as he arrived he called and told me he was being deployed to Iraq. I told him it had to be a mistake, he just got in! No mistake, he was going in early February.

This picture is from his first deployment. We would send him disposable camera's, and he would send them back and we would have them developed. I remember seeing pictures like this one and not being able to believe it was my son!

He ended up going to Iraq three times during the 4 years he was in the Marines. Slowly you hear stories of the things he had seen. Some funny, some some really painful to hear, knowing how difficult it must have been for him. If the stress of deployment was not enough, he really didn't fit in that well. In the end he decided not to re enlist.

Even though my son was shot at, had a convoy he was in attacked with a roadside bomb, even though he had to shoot someone, he actually believes his service was unremarkable! Anyway, on veteran's day, I salute my son, I am so proud of him!

Here is a picture of Drew watching his sister Kate play tennis for special Olympics. He has been home over 2 years now. I can honestly say that he was not quite right until maybe 6 months ago. It was not anything really obvious, nothing where you would say, he's got PTSD. He bombed out off college, couldn't hold down a job, had no direction, seemed restless, had trouble sleeping. I was pretty worried, but slowly he is coming around. He has had the same job for a year, he trained to be an EMT and did really well and now volunteers for a local rescue squad. He is talking about going back to college.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New on Etsy

Here is a quilt that has been hanging around for a while, waiting for more shell beads. I could not really describe this when I was putting it up on Etsy. It really is about an archeological discovery. This is an ancient grave site. That little whale bone doll is the body. I've used this little guy in a number of collages from back in the "old days." That would be the late 1990s.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pokeberries: Don't Bother

I performed my final pokeberry experiment this morning. I had a variety of alum-treated fabrics at hand, a small bucket of pokeberries simmering in an enamel stock pot purchased for this purpose. I put lace, muslin, and cotton prints into the mix and cooked them for a couple of hours with soda ash. The result? A bunch of fabric that looked vaguely dingy. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your time natural dying with pokeberries. They look promising, but you get nothing for your efforts.

I did  have a couple of boxes of good old fashioned RIT dye on hand. I know this stuff isn't great, but it is easy to get your hands on. I cooked up a mess o' that on the stove and put a bunch of fabric in this new dye bath.  I happened to use pink again and I have some very pretty fabric drying on the line right now. It came out very uneven, which I think is a problem with the stove top method, except for me it is exactly what I wanted. I over-dyed some blue and white and black and white checks and they look great. I have brown dye that I plan to use next. Some of it will go over the pink.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book My Ass

I e-mailed the book editor and she has not e-mailed back. This is the part where I feel discouraged. This is the part where I think, that was just a dream. Even if she never gets back to me, I think I will send them a pitch for the book idea this all sparked me to think up.

Here is my latest feed sack quilt, now on Etsy. It occurs to me that I have enough art quilts made with feed sacks that I might make it it's own catagory.

Here is another example of my flower pounding experiments. I really like the colors on this one. I'm not sure what I will do with this fabric. I've been looking at ATCs lately. I see some people sell them on Etsy, but when you read about ATCs on the web, they are supposed to be traded, not sold. I thought briefly about joining a trading group and then snapped out of it. The thing about joining a group is you end up with some kind of obligation.

Last year I made a few things for Christmas, but did not sell much. I was thinking that I could make ATC size items that could be thought of as ornaments. I have 2 half finished pieces going right now. I'd like to finish them before I start up something new. Unfinished objects make me a little crazy.

Joe and I are going out with friends tonight. The National Hotel had it's grand re-opening in Frenchtown on Tuesday, and we are very happy. The National Hotel is a very old establishment. Naturally it has gone through a number of owners, but the place closed down a  year or so ago and they boarded it up! It really looked horrible, like a crack house or something. Maybe I'll take some pictures if I think of it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crazy Good Things

I can't even think today. I haven't been too busy here at work, and that makes it hard to get anything done. I realize that might sound crazy, but that's really how it is. There is enough free time to mess around on the internet, and I get distracted by interesting things.

Anyway, today 2 things happened to make that situation double worse. Remember how I have applied to Drexel University to  get a BS in Communication? Well, I signed up for an online seminar where one of the professors spoke about the course, what to expect, and where you can use a degree like this. (Answer: anywhere) When I was finished, I ran down to get lunch, came back and had an e-mail saying I was accepted! I'm excited and scared.

If that's not distracting enough, I had a convo on my etsy site from a woman who says she is the acquisitions editor for C&T publishing. I looked that up and found it is a ligit publishing house that concentrates on needle arts and mixed media books. She says she loves my work and wants to know if I had ever considered writing a book. Well, not up until now. She offered to chat more if I sent her an e-mail. I did, but haven't heard back yet. Meanwhile I looked at their book propsal form, and started writing a book proposal on the spot!  It's a pretty big deal, I have to write a sample chapter and a complete set of instructions for a sample project.

How could all this happen at once? If somehow this book thing really happens, I'm going to blow off going to Italy this year. How many things can one person do??????

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Work is Getting Done

It's been a pretty fruitful weekend. I quilted 2 small things I started last week. Kate is right now embroidering something she has been working on. Some progress was made in the attic. I've got various scraps of fabric soaking in a pot of water with alum. I finally got some of it, they had to order it for me at the pharmacy. I took the fabric that I dyed by smashing berries into it, scraped off the excess seeds and pulp, and heat set it with an iron, Then I rinsed it. Pretty much everything washed out. I now have a light pink and brown mottled fabric. I still have a bucket of poke berries I picked last weekend. I have been reading up on dying with those berries, and I have learned that they are POISON. I am going to buy a cheap pot and reserve it for dying experiments. I have also learned that the dye is famously fugitive. In other words, it's hard to get it to stay in fabric. I want to try another method of natural dying I heard about, which is pounding flowers. I think that might be cool.

I haven't gotten around to take any pictures of anything lately. Maybe later? We are going to the home depot in a while. We'll see after that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fiber Art or Quilt?

I always cruise Etsy looking for fiber artists with the same sensibility as me and to see what everyone else has been doing. I look at the section for Quilts and then go to "mini" or "wallhanging."  I'm generally not impressed with 80% of what I see. Well today I peeked at Art and then Fiber Art. Hello! Way more of what I have been looking for. So now the question is, how should I be tagging my art?  Obviously I have been thinking of them as quillts first, especially since they all end up being quilted. If you have a store on Etsy, would you mind telling me how you tag your art quilts?

Although I have not making traditional quilts these days, that is how I started and it is difficult for me to let some of the conventions go. Slowly, I have decided that it is OK to bind in a non-traditional way. I've decided that keeping the back of the quilt free of knots, etc. is for the county fair, not meaningful for my art.  I will admit, I feel guilty about it. I've decided that 100% cotton fabric is unnecessary, I don't even need to use fabric exclusively. My quilts don't need to stand up to washing, because they will not be washed. So here I am letting go of one more convention: The term QUILT.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Supposed Vacation Day

I'm supposed to be having a vacation day, but things have gone awry. Disaster at work had me calling and e-mailing all day to try to straighten in out. This is when I hate my job the most. When I get that dreaded feeling that I have made a bad mistake and I'm going to get reamed for it. We'll see. Also, Kate asked me to get her at work because she felt sick.

In the mean time, I had a very productive weekend. I finished the new Doll Dress and just put it up on Etsy. I almost finished the other quilt I was working on, but ran out of the shell beads I am using. I don't know if I will use something else or search out more of the same.

On Saturday I dumped a load of fabric and feed sacks and other fabric things on the floor of the Living Room and started to play. I ended up with 3 new quilt tops: 2 ready to quilt and one nearly there. I find that what I really need time for is to figure out a design. Once I have the thing worked
out, then I can steal time here and there to work on it.

Sunday was such a fine day that Joe and I went for a motorcycle ride, most likely my last one of the year. It was so nice riding around the beautiful countryside and taking in all of the autumn color. When we were just about home I spied a big patch of pokeberry plants. I walked back with a bucket and picked a whole mess of them. I took some of them and smashed them directly onto some white fabric. Yo, that's purple!  I noted some different berries in the yard next door (The place is unoccupied right now) and helped myself, These were berries from a Lily of the Valley. I was amazed at how orange the fabric became.  I still need alum to properly dye things. I remember seeing it in the supermarket at some time in my life, but not anymore. I went to the drugstore and they ordered some for me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's October All Over the Place

It is cloudy here this morning, and I've noticed that this situation can make colors appear brighter. I'm talking about some intense orange and red trees I noticed on the way to work. A few times it looked like I was driving through a glowing tunnel of fire! I try to enjoy these things, because soon enough there will be no leaves at all.

Apparently it is autumn in my reproductive system as well. I have been having symptoms for some time now; relatively mild ones from what I have read. I haven't slept through the night in at least a year. I've been hot-flashing. Last Friday I decided to count how many times... 15, just while I was at work! (I don't flash as much at home because we keep the heat so low) I don't have crazy sweaty hot-flashes like some people apparently do, but it wells up out of me for no reason, say, while I am reading an e-mail. Today I realized that I haven't had a period in 46 days.

I'm a little bummed about the pace of my attic studio. There has been no activity whatsoever. Last weekend we had our dinner party on Saturday, and on Sunday no one felt like doing much of anything. This weekend Joe is going to visit a friend who has plumbing problems and a crumbling marriage. I think Joe is doing the right thing by going there, but that's another weekend of no progress. Just the same, I will carry on. I have 2 quilts that I am sure will be finished this weekend, and, I took Monday as a vacation day! I have extra vaca days hanging around, so I've just picked some random Fridays and Mondays. I am excited about the opportunity to putter around the house.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windowsill dying = failure

Yesterday I decided to take the fabric out of the jar of pokeberry dye. It was nice and pink, until I rinsed it. Now it has some faint pink streaks and looks kind of dirty. Some people just need to learn the hard way, I guess. Next time I will mordant the fabric. Also, maybe there weren't enough berries? I was thinking how if I got some of this on a pair of white pants, it would never come out. (I don't own any white pants.) I wonder if I would have been better off just soaking the fabric in a glass of cheap red wine? (It was a red wine incident that made me decide to fore go white pants.)

One Wednesday I visited a different location of the Company I work for to attend a seminar about e-learning with Drexel University. It actually looks like they have a very good system. I have all of my signed forms from work, and I have applied. Transcripts are also sent, so if I am accepted, next I will be anxious to see what credits will transfer from my AA degree.

Today I have arranged a sales rep to come into work and demo a Xyron machine. I would imagine many of you are familiar with this thing, I think home versions are popular with scrapbookers and some collage artists. Here, we have a large spray booth in the poster room with a big fan that sucks out the fumes. We had a safety inspection recently and were told we needed an eyewash station in the room if we were to keep using this thing. I can tell you I have no room for an eyewash station, much less room to move comfortably. So, we are looking for an alternative. I'm excited about removing the spray booth, which is huge, and gaining all that space. Spray mount is obnoxious anyway.

In other news that you might actually care about, I have been plugging away at my two close to being finished quilts. Looking forward to a quiet weekend when I will complete both of them. A note too Susan, who commented a few days ago. She asked about the quilt, "A Small Story." She wanted to know how I got the text on the quilt. I actually individually stamped every letter with a set of alphabet rubber stamps.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Window Sill Dying

During the summer I was reading about small scale natural dying on Cathy Cullis' blog. I remember at the time I thought I needed to try that. I had previously taken out a library book on the subject, and it just seemed like too big of a deal, requiring bushels of plant material and complicated instruction. I thought, I'll never do this. Cathy makes it seem quite do-able, by just using plants in the garden and putting small quantities of plant materials, water and fabric in a jar by the windowsill.

I was cleaning out the garden Sunday afternoon, and came across a big poke-berry plant. At least this is what I call a plant like this. It has purple berries that stain anything. I thought of these berries when reading Cathy's posts, and here before me was a bumper crop! All I did was put them in a canning jar and smash 'em up a little. Poured on boiling water and added some cotton.. We'll see what happens.

Too bad I re read Cathy's blog entries after the cloth was in the jar. I forgot the alum, which she uses as a mordant. Well, we'll see what happens. Look at the jar, doesn't it look so pink?

Our dinner party happened on Saturday, and all went well. Except that I drank too much wine. I have recently lost 25 pounds. I don't make a fuss about this, because I gain and lose weight on a regular basis. What would really be remarkable is if I ever kept the weight off. Well, whatever. The point is, I keep thinking I can drink and I can't seem to any longer! By the time the last guest left I was ready to faint. I woke up the next day at 9:30 am. That is really late for me. I was none too energetic the rest of the day. Except for a big load of dishes, the place was really clean, so I treated myself to a sewing marathon. I finally stopped sewing in the afternoon, get this... because I was tired of it!  That never happens!  I have 2 projects almost finished, the scrimshaw guy and the doll dress, which is very cool. pictures soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More new work-in-progress

Here is the other piece I have been working on. I literally just dropped it on the kitchen floor and took a picture. Since the pictures were taken, the dress and hanky have been sewn down and this is now a quilt sandwich ready to go. I have people over for dinner on Saturday, so I am not sure when this will progress, but soon.