frenchtown fiber

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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Are Beautiful

I just wanted you to know that.

I took this picture on a trip to Philadelphia a few years ago. It was just hanging on a chain link fence.

I'm feeling good because I have the night off. I just don't have any place to be, no place to drive Kate to. Normally Kate has social group, but if there is a fifth week in the month, we take off.

Last night we went to a big public meeting put on by the DDD. In New Jersey that means Department of Developmental Disabilities. I was told to enroll Kate with this agency as soon as she turned 18 so that she could get on the waiting list for housing. Generally I have no contact with our case worker, because either we don't qualify for or don't need any of their services. I figured we would go to this meeting because they were announcing "major changes" to DDD. Our main interest is housing. Kate is nervous about this, even though I assured her that it is at least 20 years until anything is likely to happen. After attending this meeting I think it is more like 50 years.

Here is the way I understand it: When the parents of a client turn 55, the client moves to the PRIORITY list. The list is currently 4600 people long, and they place about 25 people per year. Think about that. At the end of the meeting, people lined up to ask questions. One woman got up, all crazy and emotional, and asked if it was true what she had heard. She heard that many people are not placed until their parents die, and of course, at that point, it's a crisis. The clients end up being placed in a developmental center, (an institution) and there are criminals mixed in to the population. The speaker assured her that there are not criminals mixed in the population. One of the centers has a criminal building, but they are by themselves. He did, however, admit that the rest of it was TRUE. That's just great. I have to make sure that I don't die until I am at least 90.

I need to investigate the alternatives. There must be some way to go in on a condo with a couple of other families and then have the state provide someone to supervise. Then, when everyone has passed on, the State inherits the property. I think I may have heard of something like that. I wish I had more money.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Art Club

Yesterday was the second meeting of Art Club. This was the day that everyone assembled their collages from the images they had collected previously. I didn't really know what to expect, although I did know what I was hoping for. I guess I was hoping for undiscovered genius! What I ended up with was a lot of cool collages and a group of people that really seem to be having fun.
I learned that I should not let people take their projects home, because they may not come back again! A couple of people had to start from scratch, but no big deal.
I set apart a special table as the glitter station. I love glitter, and so does everyone else, but Jeez, what a mess. I have 4 ARC employees helping helping me when I do this, and I am so grateful. Two of the helpers made collages themselves, and I loved that they did that. (I will save those images for another day.) One of them says she paints, but I think the other guy does not normally make art. Once you get out of school, I don't think there are many opportunities for the average person to make art unless they are really driven to do it. I want to make art club for the whole world!
Now that we have assembled collages, next week we will adhere them to black presentation board and have a mini show. I'm hoping to get everyone to be able to talk about their collage and tell why they picked certain images. I expect this to be a challenge, as it was in class critiques in college! I think it is hard to put into words some of the things that go on in our brains.
I have been saving large pieces of paper from work, I mean the ends of paper rolls, so that if we are done early, we can have a group draw, like we had at Kate's Valentines day party. That seems to go over well.
I decided to make a separate blog for Art Club. Have a look if you get a chance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Experimental Strings

I just typed this big paragraph about how I cleaned my screened-in porch yesterday.  I decided you might rather see my string experiment. I was using stuff in my scrap bin. I mean, tiny scraps. It's kind of interesting so far. To be continued...

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I spent most of today at the Fairfield racquet club. It was Sectionals for Special Olympic Tennis. Kate is in division 2. As you can see, there are all men in her division. She beat 2 of them and gave the third a run for his money. Go Kate!  Summer games are  mid-June.

I woke up at 5 am and decided to sew. Here is my experiment, hanging on the clothes line,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Unexpected Interesting Day

It's been a typical week for me, stupid busy. Yesterday was Cooking Day for Kate's social group. They meet in the basement of a big old church. There is an old graveyard next to the church that I have been wanting to explore. Yesterday, in the two minutes I have before arriving home from work and jumping back in the car, I grabbed some muslin, some pastel chalk, some charcoal and a fat lead pencil. I decided to try to do grave rubbings on fabric.
Results were mixed. First of all I am uncomfortable doing that kind of thing. I don't really want anyone to see me. They might say something like, "Excuse me, what the hell are you doing?" and I will have to tell them and then I will have to endure whatever reaction they might bestow upon me. Yes, yes, I'm weird. I know.
I suppose you have to do things wrong to learn how to do them right. Next time I will get someone to come with me to stretch the fabric around the stones. I tried taping the fabric, but it was a joke. Try taping fabric to crusty, lichen-covered stone, you'll see. I discovered that charcoal is useless, and pastels are only a little better. All of the rubbings you see were done with the fat lead pencil. I discovered that the stones I most wanted to rub were too rough. I got the best results from granite stones, but they tended to be newer and were less likely to have a poem or quote on them. (I'm particularly interested in that.) I did get a half-decent rubbing of a small tombstone. I'm not even sure what I am doing with all this, I think really I just wasted some cheap muslin. We'll see.
One other thing about my cemetary tour, I came across a rather worn American Flag in a bush. It is tattered in a way I would dare not do myself. I want to use it in a quilt, and I don't think it would be considered disrespectful. I will consult my son, who is an ex-Marine. He is in charge of the flag we hang from our porch. He is very serious about flag etiquette. Did you know I have a son? I talk so much about Kate. I will tell you about him sometime.
OK, final cool thing that happened yesterday. When I was finished with my cemetary exploits, I went in to the church to wait, and it was all set up for a rummage sale the next day!!! I love rummage sales. Pretty much everything in the sale is .50 or .25; that's my kind of price. I scored some cool lace, wine glasses, a tiny twig chair, excellent old utensils, a ceramic butter dish, and an old Cha-Cha album that looks like it was never played. The cover graphics alone were brilliant. Kate copped 2 expired calendars with pictures of old European advertising posters.
Thursday was a way better day than I ever expected!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Landmarks

There are several spring landmarks on the way to summer. One is the first lawn mowing. I bought this lawnmower when I bought my first house in 2002. Every year it turns right over, no problem.

The other is the turning of the compost pile.

I am a big believer in organic gardening. Especially for small, largely ornamental gardens like my own. I can't see spreading noxious chemicals all over the place just so I can have pretty flowers. And no commercial fertilizers either. I have an old pamphlet from Rodale Press called, "Make Compost in 2 Weeks" or something like that. There is a lot of useful information in it, but I pretty much ignored the "2 weeks" aspect. I can't be bothered worrying about sticking a special thermometer in the pile to make sure it's hot enough. I thow in kitchen scraps, grass and leaves in something of a parfait and let nature take its course. Nature's course takes about a year. I have 2 kinds of compost piles. One is this thing I purchased from the town when they were promoting composting to save money on trash removal. It was $40 and looks a bit like a space ship. The other is just a 3-foot dia x 3-foot high round of fencing. They both work pretty well. I dug out what finished compost there was to spread on the garden and turned the rest over, adding some new material. I will turn it again at some point during the summer, once again taking out whatever finished compost there is. And that's it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finishing Something

I feel good because I have finished something. Housewife Dreaming of Cocktails is done. I like it a lot but it did come out kind of wavy. I'm not sure why, I haven't had that issue in a long time. So, maybe it is un-sellable. Maybe only it's mother could love it. I am currently seeing if it will dry straight, having soaked it in cold water and now letting it dry flat.

Here you see it tacked to a shed with 4 tacks so the waviness was controlled.

I have been itching to try something experimental. I have an idea for using strips if fabric out of my strip bin.  I also found Luminere paints at my local craft store. I didn't even realize they carried them. I came upon the paints while wandering near the t-shirt decorating section. They were discontinued, so I scooped up a bunch at what I suppose must be a good price, $2.99 ea. I have never painted on fabric before, that could be fun.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You Could Make This

And so can I.

I was directed to this from the PamKittyMorning Blog.

I just had to get this out there.

In other news, I am getting positive feedback from my class, and today I was making arrangements for our visit to the museum. I am also going to speak with the recreation director of the Hunterdon ARC and make plans for the future of ART CLUB. I'm pretty excited about al this. If this really takes off I might need to make a separate ART CLUB blog. Then I won't have to worry about scaring care takers of ARC members with any weirdness that might end up on this blog.

In other, and again, unrelated news, I have finished the housewife-needs-a-cocktail-tea-towel quilt. We'll see if I can get it together to take a decent photograph soon. The weather is OH-MY-GOD-SRING-LIKE today, too bad I am stuck in an office. Tonight Kate goes to bowling. While she bowles I'm heading to Target to get the makings for that babydoll smock. See ya!


I was looking in the "help thing" on Blogger; others have had this issue today. I went back to my blog and you are all there again. Whew!

I'm Not Following...

According to my "dashboard," I am not following any blogs. What a pain in my ass. How will I find you all again? To be continued...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Art club went down pretty well. Everyone seemed to get what I was talking about. I showed them some famous art, (Mona Lisa, American Gothic, The Scream, Andy Warhol's Marilyn.)

I gave everyone a large envelope to hold their works-in-progress. Then we talked about collage and different ways we could make them. Most of my students seemed to go with a theme. Two women have horse themes going. One woman likes witches. A man named Matt was completely taken with a map of Nova Scotia I had out there with all of the magazines. He cut out a bunch of flowers and a man and woman to go with the map. I'm looking forward to seeing that collage finished. Another man cut out pictures of flags, soldiers and diamond jewelry. Eric, known as Eric Scissorhands, sat down and went right to work doing what he likes to do, cutting out letters and words. He made an art club sign for me! I asked him if he would like to try cutting out some pictures and he very politely declined. I said that was fine because this is Art Club, not Make Your Collage My Way Club! However, by the end of the night, he was cutting out beach scenes.
The aerial view is a picture of Kate with Jimmy, who laughed like a hyaena when ever he saw a picture of a toilet. I could not get over how many toilets he managed to come across.

The problem I see coming is that I needed two days to do this, but I have three. I will have to come up with another project, but I think I can. My next class is April 28th

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Teach My First Class Today!

Here is the description of the class I will teach as it appears in the Hunterdon ARC recreation newsletter:

"In the first session of Art Club we will be exploring collage. Collage is great because you can use pictures of things instead of drawing. There are so many printed images in all of our magazines and newspapers, just waiting for us to use them in new ways! In class #1 we will be looking at the collages that other artists make to get inspiration. We will also be searching for images we would like to use. In class #2 we will assemble our images and add other elements, such as glitter, stars, paint, colored paper, or anything else we can think of. In the final class, we will finish assembling the collages and mount them to black board for display. We will have a mini show and admire eachother's work."

I have been daydreaming about this class and preparing for it since January. I can't really tell if I am actually ready or not. Guess I will find out.

I decided to do this for 2 reasons. Kate would come home form a craft activity at the ARC and say to me, "I could have done this better, but we ran out of time." Because of this I wanted to propose a 3 day class so that these people would have enough time to really do what they want to do. The other reason I decided to do this was because of a visit I made to a career counselor recently. We talked about what I would rather be doing with my life, and I know I would love to be a teacher. I know it really isn't too late, but I just don't feel like going back to college AND working AND taking care of everything Kate needs AND trying to have a life with my husband and making art. So, this a way for me to get some experience teaching, and maybe getting a foot in the door at a non-profit like the ARC.

I have visions of the people in the class creating fascinating examples of outsider art. One thing I would like to do is scan in all of the collages and creating a set of note cards that can be bought by the community and would benefit "Art Club." Eventually I will become creative director of a place like Creativity Explored. A person can dream, can't they?

Accidental discovery: Tord Boontje

Tord Boontje is a Dutch designer. I found this book about him while browsing the library stacks. I think what really attracted me to the book was the layer of gauze that is glued over the cover. Something told me it had to be cool. I'd never heard of him before, but I can see what a huge impact his designs are having on the general look of things in general. There are a lot of items on Etsy that have this look. What I really love are the wine bottles. The link up there is for his web site. Have a peek.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny and Traffic Circles

Here is the Easter Bunny himself handing out Jelly beans in front of the Fudge Kitchen in Cape May. I would like to salute all of the people that get stuck wearing these crazy costumes for the sake of commerce! I always think of Mr. Bee, mascot of a small hamburger place in Somerville, NJ. He would stand and wave out there on the Traffic Circle as people heaped abuse upon him.  I don't know what bees had to do with anything, but the tables in there had glass tops and there were honey combs inside with pipe cleaner bees. That place has been gone for a while now. If you don't know what a traffic circle is, well maybe you call it a round-a-bout where you live? Quite a few of them were built in NJ as a way to control traffic where a number of major roads converged. As the population soared around here, the traffic circles started seeing way more cars than they were ever meant to handle. It was almost a right of passage to have your first car accident on the circle, partly because we were too busy throwing trash at Mr. Bee. I recall as a new driver, and even later, I would not be able to get through the thing without having someone give me the horn. There were rules about who had the right of way on the circle, but if you followed them you could be stuck there for hours. The traffic circle has changed since then; they built a bridge that sent Route 202 over the top of everything, but I still avoid it if I can. I understand that over 11,000 cars per day go through there!

Hey, that was some tangent, eh? Well, just take a look at the chow mein nests we made and I'll let you go. Have a lovely and relaxing day!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kinda Slow Today

This is a sign we saw in May's Landing, NJ while on our way to Cape May. It was one of those deals where we had to turn around and go back to take a picture. There must be a lot of turtles for the town to put up a sign, don't you think? I'd like to see that.
I'm feeling kinda slow today. I'm just having my parents over for dinner tomorrow, no big deal. Mom's even making the ham, we are making side dishes. I'm also going to make those cool chocolatey nests that you make out of canned chow mein noodles. There are a lot of slightly different recipe variations on the internet, but basically it is chocolate chips and peanut better melted together. Mix in those weird chow mien noodles and form into a nest shape on wax paper. Add "eggs." I prefer those little Cadbury eggs, but I didn't see any when I was out yesterday. Those malted milk ball Robin's Eggs are good, too.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Artist the Subject of Art

I've been follwing the blog of Susan Lenz, Art in Stitches, for a while now. I got into some kind of conversation as the result of comments made on her blog... well... see for yourself! She explains the whole thing.

Kate and I are pretty excited about being in one of Susan's decision series pieces. We had this big idea that we would drive all the way down to S. Carolina for the opening of her show. I had no idea when that would be, but it turns out it is in about 2 weeks, and on a Thursday, and a couple of days before a Special Olympic Event. We can't make it, oh well.
I really love Susan's work and once again, cool to be part of it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blogger is Lame (or is it me?)

I struggled with my Lucy the Elephant post. I had to maneuver the text around the pictures so that they were something like captions. Finally I got it right. A few days later I looked at the post and all of the text was below the pictures. I tried to fix it and ended up deleting a picture. Man, that pisses me! Shouldn't it be easier to create a decent looking post? Do you all know something I don't? I abandoned it until I had time to redo. At first I thought, why bother to redo this, no one will look at it after today. I now realize that is wrong, because I just got a response to a post I did way back on February 10. The Butter Krak post! They were telling me that I was wrong, Butter Krak isn't just average, it's the bomb. OK, OK, Butter Krak is the bomb. Send me some and I will re-evaluate it.

Meanwhile, a couple of posts ago I told you that I was invited to join an Etsy team and I paid some $$ to put listings on their website. That went fine, then they asked me to join their forum. OK, so I did. After I returned from my weekend, I looked at the home e-mail and 4 people had "friended" me! I didn't know it was like a face book thing. (I have ignored my face book page since I created it.) I friended them back, I mean, I don't want to seem rude, but I do not have time for this! I have real friends I don't call!

In other news, I am starting the count down to the start of my art class. I am teaching collage to a group of mentally challenged adults at the ARC starting Tuesday. I am gathering materials to use as learning aids. I'm going to start them up by showing a group of REALLY famous art to see if they recognize any of it. Because, if they don't, they should. I'm talking about the Mona Lisa, The Birth of Venus, American Gothic, The Scream. Stuff like that. I was at the County Library yesterday, paying off my latest embarassing fine and taking out a hernia's worth of coffee table art books. One of them is called "100 of the World's Most Beautiful Paintings." I had this very book in my house when I was growing up, and I am serious when I say it was really my first major encounter with art. I looked at that book all of the time. I remember when I was a teenager, we painted my bedroom pink. We were looking for art for the walls, and we took a Paul Klee print right out of that book and framed it for the wall.

Have you ever seen this? When I came across it in the book, I got all nostalgic. I think it would be way cool to make a quilt based on this. No problem. I'll file this away with all of the other ideas.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Remember the Cocktail Quilt? This post goes back to January. I had just gotten some cocktail related fabric and thought that I might use it with a cool old novelty dish towel I had found. Up until last night it was still pinned to the board where I took a picture of it in the beginning of the year. I had at least 2 good new ideas stirring around in my brain but I forced them back to revisit this old idea. Part of the problem was that cocktail fabric. I could not really think of how to make that work, and ultimately, I think it will end up on the back of the quilt.

I do that a lot. I have an idea of how I'm going to make a quilt and use certain fabric and methods, but when I really get down to it and drag all of the components together on the floor and start playing, often I struggle to make it all work. I start eliminating some things, adding others, and when I come up with something that I think does work, I am in a completely different place than where I started. I'm not sure if this is a symptom of not using a sketch book at all, or just another example of why I don't use a sketchbook. It's all going to change anyway.

This new picture, taken in the basement near the washer, shows my new idea about how to put this together. Another issue is the tea towel itself. It's almost a complete idea, and if I intend this to be a wall hanging, then it doesn't really need to be much larger. I'm going with two fabrics as a border, and some embroidery around the edge. And I can not wait to quilt around the elements in that towel! Good fun.

I am still not finished with the dead baby quilt, but when I get to the point that I am done thinking about a piece and I know how it will end up, I need to start working out the next one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Settling Back in.

Monday morning after a long weekend. Wish I could have stayed in bed longer, but it was not happening. Also, we were blessed for 2 years in a row with weather that was so fine for April that you just know you will have to pay somehow. The weather for the coming week includes high temperatures in the 40s, lots of rain and even a slight chance of snow. April is indeed the cruelest month. Meanwhile, have a look at some pictures of the beach at Cape May.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We had quite a lovely weekend. We started with visiting Lucy the Elephant in Margate New Jersey. At this point the weather was dreadful. It was very foggy and the wind was freezing. But still, it wasn't a bad time to visit, we were told that in the summer they bring up 50 people at a time for a tour. We had exactly 2 other people with us on our tour. It costs $6 each to get in, and you get to see the inside and a video. Lucy was quite a mess when a developer wanted to knock her down in 1970. A couple of women mobilized a save Lucy committee and raised quite a bit of money in a short time. In the end it cost over 1 million to have her restored and she needs constant maintenance. You can see where they had jut fixed a leak inside.

Here is Joe with our car parked in front of Lucy

#1. Here is Lucy's "leg door."
#2. A "pane" in the butt. (I did not make that up.)
#3. I was standing up in Lucy's head when I took this picture of the interior.
#4. This is looking out of Lucy's eye.

I'm glad I got to finally see Lucy! More tomorrow.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Old Art

I've been pretty bad about blogging lately. But here is something: A collage I did ages ago. Maybe late 90's? I was clearing out some files from my computer and came across this image. This collage was pretty big, 32"x20" and framed. It's on permanent loan to the Mark and Judy collection. It just so happens that these are the people we are meeting in Cape May.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I was Invited

I was invited to join Design Style Guide, which is an Etsy team. So I read about this team, which has hundreds of members, and decided to join. They have a very nice and professional looking web site and you can create listings there which are linked directly to your Etsy store. Membership starts at $12 per year for 2 listings. I took the next step up, $32 per year for 8 listings. Hopefully it will bring more traffic to my store, which has been pretty quiet lately. My ultimate goal is for my art to supplement my income a bit when (if) I retire. Of course, this is now one more thing to do that isn't making art. They are picky about the photos you submit, so I have been taking out the backgrounds on my old listing photos. (Most of my quilts were nailed to the garage when I took the pictures, gulp.) Does anyone else out there belong to an Etsy team?