frenchtown fiber

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm Wired

What collage is this? 5? 6? I just keep making them. I like this one. I love that ball with the insane tangle of wires. If that's not me, I don't know what is. Those lightbulbs represent all of the ideas I get that never come to anything because there is just not enough time in the day. Really frustrating.

Something crazy happened this morning. The alarm went off at 6am and I went to the bathroom first thing. It smelled minty in the bathroom. I kind of wondered why that would be. My husband uses this liquid soap called Dr. Bronners. It has been an organic staple since the days of the hippie. It is basically castile oil soap, and comes very concentrated. It comes in a variety of flavors, such as lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and of course, peppermint. I had this idea that maybe he was up earlier and had washed his hands. I went downstairs and was greeted to a wet floor in the dining room. And, a strong mint aroma. I touched the liquid on the floor, and it was thick and sticky. Long story short, we figured out that a nearly full gallon jug of Dr. Bronner's had leaked into the bathroom cabinet and through the ceiling onto the floor. I have a lot of questions, like how could this happen over such a short period of time? What would make such a hole? We got every old towel we could find, and started smearing it around on the floor. Then we started with wet rags, which kicked up quite a lather, I must say. I would rinse the rag and start again. At that rate I would be done early in the fall. Joe got the idea to just keep mop-slopping water over the floor and then wet vac that up. We got the floor in decent shape plus we managed to get to work on time. One good thing about this. I had to take everything out of the bathroom cabinet and I found one of those plastic tubes for carrying a toothbrush. I was going to buy one.

Now for something completely different. Several people have mentioned that they think our trailer is too small for the motorcycle. I've been calling Joe on the phone to get his statement, but he must be too busy to answer. I think it will be fine. It's not like this is the first time he ever used this trailer for this particular activity.

There is a small glitch with our plans, not too bad. We are dropping the car and trailer at a BMW club member's home in Michigan. We were hoping to arrive there around dinner time, and take the bike to our hotel, and start our trip for real the next day. The BMW people now say that they have a family gathering to attend on Friday and won't be able to do it until Saturday AM. Not much we can really do, they are doing us a favor. We feel compelled to get an extra early start, because the woman who runs the B&B we are staying in Saturday and Sunday seems very concerned that we arrive BEFORE the festivities start. Apparently she is referring to the fourth of July festivities in the town of Frankfort. Is she worried that we will miss something? Or is she worried that she will miss something?

Update: Joe insists it will be fine. He says the wheels can hold 700 lbs each. He says he wouldn't put a GoldWing on that trailer, but we will be fine.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Collage Number Five

Here is collage number 5. I'm not real fond of this one. And the scan is problematic. The crease in the book is coming out blurry. I can't be bothered to scan again. You get the idea, right?

Derrick from Scotland is following the collages and has decided to make some of his own, even though he doesn't normally do this kind of thing. I'm looking forward to seeing his. I think it's irresistible for some people. I remember when I was doing the collage class for the ARC, some of the helpers made their own collages. 

Trip Preparations Begin in Earnest

Here you see Olive just before a test tow. We wanted to make sure she was up to the task.  Olive is my car, a 2007 Toyota Yaris. We started calling her that because the name of her color is "Olive Mist." We started out calling her "the uterus" because we thought the name Yaris kind of sounded like uterus. Fortunately, it didn't stick. The Motorcycle is a BMW named Gretchen.

My previous car was known as "The Oatmeal." It was a Saturn SL1 that I bought when the transmission went on my "Welfare Mother Car." For the record, I was never a welfare mother. When my first husband left (at my request) he let me keep our only car, which was a 198o-something Thunderbird. It was not a cool car by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it looked like a typical welfare mother car. We had bought it used, very cheap. He went out and bought a Miata for himself! (If you know the Miata, you know that it is a sports car with only 2 seats. He had one ass, and his  2 children each had an ass, that means 3 asses but only 2 seats. That could be a post by itself.) When the transmission went on the welfare mother car, I had to find something else and bought the Oatmeal used for $7500. It was a very basic car, roll down windows, standard shift, no power steering and the color of oatmeal. What a great car it was. So reliable. After a while, we had shortened the name to "The Meal." I drove it into the ground. That's when I bought my first new car ever, Olive. 

Check this, Olive gets 40 miles per gallon in mixed driving conditions. She gets 42 on the highway. Olive is also able to pull about 700 pounds of motorcycle and trailer with no problem. We took her out on the highway, and up a notorious hill named Jugtown Mountain. It is notorious because when it snows, trucks can't make it up that hill and traffic snarls. We figured if Olive could do that, we'd be OK for the trip. I'm starting to get very excited! I've washed and ironed all of the clothes I want to take. I've paid all of the bills for the month. I need to buy some travel-size items. Make sure Kate"s prescriptions are filled. Write down all of the info my parents might need and I think that's it!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Here is that new collage you've been waiting for. This one is a big inside joke for me. As a women and a mother, I focus mainly on making sure others get exactly what they want. 

Not Afraid

Here you see the latest collage in my learning series. I think this is number 4, and I am ahead of the "class." Meaning, I don't think I should have 4 already, as I just received my second set of instructions. (They show up in your e-mail every other day if you subscribe to the course)
I feel that these would be completely different collages with out the words. The words really act as statements about the piece, or even titles. The first image I came across was the chain. Loved that. The the words came next. The original set of words said, "SOME things shouldn't be that difficult." I took off the "some." Then I was finished searching through Automation Whatever Magazine, and had to move on to a different publication. The next thing I came across was the sexy babe behind the key hole. Not really sure why that caught my eye, but it could be because it was red and went with the rest of the collage. That's the conscious reason, anyway. I decided that if I kept going, I might find something better. But, that's not how this is supposed to work. So I took the babe. The last thing, sort of a cartoon butterfly, was on the back of the fragments from the babe, and I liked it. I've got this collage next to me as I write and it occurred to me that the X around the keyhole echos the X that is formed by the chain. Interesting.

I just recently created the journal that I am doing the collages in. I have glued together every three pages of a book that no one in this house is likely to ever read. Somebody got it as a gift and it has languished, dust-covered, ever since. After gluing every three pages, I went back and gesso-ed each side of what are now very thick pages. It's a fair amount of work, but good way to recycle. I've posted a picture of the cover. It comes from a statement I found and always have magnet-ed to my fridge, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

It would be hard to not mention the celebrity deaths of the past 24 hours. All I want to say is I think Farrah is really getting ripped-off. Within hours of her death she's become a foot note while MJ is giant banner news. I can tell you, I never once in my life wished I looked like Michael Jackson! No matter how rich and famous you are, you always end up dead.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I found it!

Check out Art Propelled, where I heard about the collage execise.

I knew something was wrong.

Thanks to Idaho Beauty For commenting on yesterday's post. She says she can see me in google reader, and she commented, so obviously my blog is available. However, I have a 3rd day in a row with no hits. I guess something is wrong with Google Analytics. Trouble shooting computer stuff is NOT my favorite thing. Maybe someone at work can help.

**Later that same day**

Thanks to Marty for also confirming my existence! (and saying such nice things) I spoke with Mustafa, the tech guy at work and he said that by changing my template I nullified the google analytic thing. So I just have to get around to finding the code and inserting it back into... the code of my blog. I have only a cursory understanding of all this.

OK, back to normal. (No F-word)

Here is the third collage I have made. The first 2, I kind of knew what they were about. This one is pretty random. The text, "hang on, I'll make you a copy." came from an article about internet piracy. I was attracted to it, because a lot of what we do around here is make copies. There is an ink bottle spilled over and dumping rainbow ink. I think that gets lost in the crease of the book so I wanted to explain. I will meditate on this today and see what I think.

What I love most about this kind of collage is that there are just endless images available to us in all of this printed media that's hanging around. The ways people will choose and combine them is infinite. I have scored myself an issue of Automation World Magazine. How's that for obscure? Someone from the mailroom gets it and immediately throws it away. I'm going to use that for tonight's collage.
I swear that today I'm going to find the blog that originally led me to this collage exercise. I 'll look in history.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Collage Lessons

No one has looked at my blog for 2 days. That hasn't happened since I started the thing in December. I always say that I am suprised that anyone looks at it. But when this happens, it makes me think something is wrong, like people can't get to the blog any more. It could not possibly be that everyone has decided that this is boring crap. Right?

Then I think, if no one looks at this blog anymore, what would I do? How would it change? I would definitely say fuck now and then. I say that word pretty regularly, but not on the blog. It seems rude. Maybe not everyone likes to hear or see that. But if no one ever looks, what does it matter?

I've changed my template. I made this little embroidered thing with buttons sewn on that says Frenchtown Fiber. I wanted to find a template that kind of went with that new header I made. I just felt like having something new. Maybe everyone hates it. They will not look at this blog anymore until I change back to my original template. Well too bad! I'm not going to do it. Don't look, see if I care.

I started doing this free online collage class thing. I found it in someone's blog. I thought I had book-marked her, but I can't find it. I wish I could find it because she was showing us her progress and I wanted to see. I do have the link for the collage site:

The first collage (above)

In case you don't feel like clicking on this link, here is the gist. Make a quick collage every morning. Make the collage in a journal. It can be a small journal. Look in a few magazines and grab the first three images that "speak to you." also, one line of text. The whole thing should be done quickly and spontaneously. Then you meditate on the collage throughout the day, and see what it is trying to tell you about your authentic, inner self. The first collage I did was not really by the book. I cut the images out. You are supposed to tear. I think this is so you don't get too precious about it. I understand that. I did pay too much attention to the images, tried to make a theme. This collage makes me think of the Beatle's song PIGGIES. Then I wrote anxious declaratioins all over it. I seem to be constantly fighting a bad mood. Is that coming through in these collages, I wonder? (ha) My husband says, "Honey, you're 'pausin." (His word for menopause.)

The next collage followed the rules a little better, except I am doing my collages in the evening. Then I meditate on them the next day. Actually, I just look at them a few times. Maybe I should try harder. Even though I am generally skeptical of this kind of thing, I still think it is fun. Right now I have pledged to only work on one quilt, so I m not starting anything new. And I have been steadily working on the one thing, but I do feel like a diversion occasionally. This is perfect. It's junk food. It's like chocolate.

The second collage. I think I will write on that one tonight, before making the next collage.

Oh Crap! I just got a CNN alert!
S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford -- after days when his whereabouts were unknown -- says he has been unfaithful to his wife.

Oh Jeez, not again. I don't ever watch TV, but I know I will still see this guy all over the place, apologizing to everyone, with his wife standing besides him, looking like a beaten dog. I hope she doesn't do it. I hope she's "'pausin," and tells him, "Go stand up there yourself, you big Jack-Ass."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1950s design

I wanted to post some pictures of another cool old thing. On Saturday morning, Joe and I found ourselves in Milford, sitting in the car, drinking coffee, and eating muffins as it started to rain yet again. There was a sign for a multi-family yard sale, so we figured, what the hell, and we followed the sign. No sale, just some forlorn stuff at the curb. There was a cool old fan, so Joe nabbed it off of the pile. Joe has a number of old fans scattered about, mostly in his garage.

Joe has been casually collecting old fans for a long time. As a plumber, he ends up in a lot of basements, and sees plenty of neglected treasures. He is not shy about asking, "do you want that?" Many times people just give him stuff. Sometimes they ask for a few bucks.

We are trying to keep our accumulation to a minimum. We haven't been doing that well lately. We looked at eachother and he said, "If it doesn't work I will throw it away immediately."

So anyway, we've got another fan. I know it isn't the most amazing thing ever, but we appreciate it's snappy 1950's industrial design aesthetic. And the fact that it still works fine. AND the fact that it was made in the USA. We looked it up on the internet and found a really awesome web site. You want to see old fans? check this out:

In other news, Kate has a job interview next week at a supermarket. I'm afraid she will get the job while I am on vacation. I already feel like I am asking a lot of my parents, I don't want them to have to figure all this out.
I could call the LINK and arrange transportation for her from the road. Well, I guess it will all work out.

One more thing, Joe and I saw a merganser duck with a flock-load of babies in the river this morning. I mean, like, 10 ducklings. I didn't have my camera, but here is a picture I nabbed off the web.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Cool Old Thing

On the day we picked up the sewing machine, Joe spied an old gas heater he liked, a Humphrey Radientfire #20 He bargained the price down and now it is ours. He brushed it off, vacuumed out the inside, attached a nipple and hooked it up to a propane tank. It works. Here you see it out on the deck being tested. The plan is to put it in front of the mantle in the living room to replace the candles we have there now. We have figured out that this mantle never did have a real fireplace; they were already out of fashion by the late 1800s. There was a coal stove hooked into it once.  This little gas stove will seem more like a fireplace.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


As I sit at the computer on this day in late June it is pouring rain and my feet are cold. It's crazy, but what can you do? 

Faith Takes the Place of Reason, aka the dead baby quilt, is finally photographed  and on Etsy. I don't have any high hopes that I will sell this, but that's OK.

I read the rest of a book last night. A memoir called "Girls of a Tender Age," by Mary-Ann Tyrone Smith. I don't read much. I really like to read, but, I'm trying to focus on so many things, reading just goes by the wayside (I read the newspaper a lot, though) However, if someone plops a book in front of me, and it's good, then that's it, I'm hooked. Someone at work leant me this book, and I actually left it there for a few days, because I was afraid it would become an all-nighter. (I lack a certain amount of self control) I was reading one chapter at the end of every work day this week. Then, somehow it came home with me, and I was up til 2:30 am last night. It is my favorite type of book, where people tell stories about their lives. This woman has some whoppers. I don't care if it is fiction or not, this book happens to be true. She grew up in the 1950's in Hartford, CT, she had an autistic brother, her mom was out there, emotionally, but her dad was great. When she was in the fifth grade one of her class mates was murdered by a serial killer. She surpresses all of this until she is an adult. It is grim, but really interesting to read. Things were VERY different in the 50s. Anyway, check this one out if you think it sounds appealing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Thrill of Blogging

I recently read an article in the NY Times called"When the Thrill of Blogging is Gone" Here is an excerpt:

"...many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?"

I'll tell you why blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants. Because people think they are going to get famous and be able to quit their job! Did any of you actually think that would happen? I personally have day dreamed about that, but I can't imagine that will become real. On a good day 13 people look at my blog. One day 30 people looked because I had the tag "coal stove." Here is some more from the article:

"Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but “it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.” He added, “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”

Real funny there, Richard.

I started this blog thinking it would be about my fiber art. But the reality is, there is just not enough of that going on to limit my posts to just quilts. Besides, when I find a dead bat on my morning walk, I want to tell someone.

Last night Joe packed his bag for real. What can I tell you? At least I held him off for a couple of days. We are now exactly 2 weeks from leaving. I did a test pack, and I think I will manage to get enough clothes in there for 2 weeks. We will be stopping in on friends at the half way point, so I can do some wash. The good news is I will be wearing my most bulky clothes while we ride.

(Have any of you ever read the book Heidi? I read it when I was a kid, and I remember when they were bringing Heidi to her grandfather's, she had to wear all of her clothes at once. That was crazy.)

It would be nice if I could somehow predict the weather. Do I really need a sweater? It takes up a lot of space, but I might. Someone told me it was cold in the UP of MI in the mornings. On a reasonably warm day, you can feel cold when you are riding a motorcycle. I really hate being cold. I guess when it gets closer to the time of leaving we will get a better I dea what is going on up there.

Emotional Weather Report

We have a friend, Mark, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He is a for-real weather man, not the kind that just tells you the weather on TV. According to him, forcasting the weather is largely statistics. He is a scientist, and he is dispassionate about the whole thing. We, on the other hand, are not scientists, and to us the weather can be cruel and has the power wreck a picnic or wreak havoc on our emotional well-being. Like, right now.

It is hard to suppress the urge to call Mark and complain about the weather. Or to see if he might know when this dreadful pattern will end. I remember one really steamy August, the summer Joe and I got married, we asked him, "For cryin' out loud, when is it gonna cool off??" He replied, cooly, "Sometime around mid-September." Thanks.

Joe called him yesterday to complain about the rain, and here is a transcript of the message we came home to on the answering machine:

"The weather report:
Today... rain.
Tonight... rain.
Tomorrow... rain.
Tomorrow night... rain, with a chance of thunder storms.
The day after tomorrow... rain
The night of the day after tomorrow... rain, heavy at times.

Thank you."
(hang up)

I'm going to kick his ass the next time I see him.

Tom Waits wrote a great song called, "Emotional Weather Report" Here are the lyrics, which I think you should read:

late night and early morning low clouds
with a chance of fog
chance of showers into the afternoon
with variable high cloudiness
and gusty winds, gusty winds
at times around the corner of
Sunset and Alvorado
things are tough all over
when the thunder storms start
increasing over the southeast
and south central portions
of my apartment, I get upset
and a line of thunderstorms was
developing in the early morning
ahead of a slow moving coldfront
cold blooded
with tornado watches issued shortly
before noon Sunday, for the areas
including, the western region
of my mental health
and the northern portions of my
ability to deal rationally with my
disconcerted precarious emotional
situation, it's cold out there
colder than a ticket taker's smile
at the Ivar Theatre, on a Saturday night
flash flood watches covered the
southern portion of my disposition
there was no severe weather well
into the afternoon, except for a lone gust of
wind in the bedroom
in a high pressure zone, covering the eastern
portion of a small suburban community
with a 103 and millibar high pressure zone
and a weak pressure ridge extending from
my eyes down to my cheeks cause since
you left me baby
and put the vice grips on my mental health
well the extended outlook for an
indefinite period of time until you
come back to me baby is high tonight
low tomorrow, and precipitation is

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Here is a fragment of a quilt top I got my hands on recently. Some of the fabrics look old, but I really can't be sure. What I will do with it, I can't say right now. I might just make a lap quilt out of it. Seems pretty mangable. Of course, I've put a moritorium on all new projects until I finish Magic Tree. I have sewn on it a few times since I originally made this declaration. I have been known to sit on the back deck with my husband and a bottle of wine many evenings, so I just added a quilt in my lap to this scenario. I use a medium size hoop when I hand quilt. I can certainly quilt and talk at the same time. Once the heat soars up to 90, which is very late coming this year, that will be a little tough. We don't have any kind of air conditioning in our house. A personal choice. I'm just saying, so you know there is no escape. I have a quiet weekend coming up, since Joe is on call, so I may get some machine work done. This could really move that thing a long way in a few hours.

By the way, Joe did not pack his bag last night. This morning I said, "So, you did not pack after all?" He smirked and said, "Naw, that's crazy!" Good for you, honey.

Kate has now been unemployed for 6 months. I think she is starting to lose her mind. I left 4 needles for her threaded with green embroidery floss so she could work on a small quilt she has going without me being there. I hope that went well. I hope she tells me she threaded more needles on her own when I get home.

One more thing, When Joe and I were taking our walk this morning we found a dead bat right in the middle of the path! EEEwwww! Poor little fella. I wonder what happened?

A New Hobby $$

I just ordered $40 worth of stuff off the internet for my new old sewing machine. I was dancing around the subject with Joe, and I asked if I can have my sewing machine running for my birthday. (October) He said it was no big deal and he could have it running way sooner. I want it running tomorrow, but I can't do this without him and I don't want to be a pain in the ass. Just the same, I doubt this will be done until after we come back from our vacation.

Only 17 days until we leave on our epic motorcycle journey. It rains pretty much every day here in New Jersey lately. We are hoping they have a different weather pattern in Michigan. In fact, we've been sacrificing animals to the Sun god. Between tha rain and trip preparations, I think Joe is about to go off the deep end. He has taken apart, lubricated, serviced, inspected, or replaced every moving part in my car, the motorcycle and the trailer we will tow it on. He says we will be packed on Wednesday night, not Thursday, which is the night before we are leaving. He says that I stay up until midnight packing the night before a trip and that drives him crazy. He wants us to be well-rested and leave at 5:30 am, and all we should have to do is get on the bike and go.

All this is fine. But as we were getting ready for work this morning, he announces that he is packing his bag TONIGHT. I had to start busting his balls. "Yo!" I said, "Let's drive to Michigan this weekend for a test run! On Thursday night, let's sleep on the floor NEXT TO the bike so we don't have to go all the way downstairs and across the yard to get to the garage. We'll put the coffee maker in the garage!" He pretended to cry and whimpered about how much he needs a vacation.

We actually are going to test the hitch that is installed on my car and make sure it is OK to haul the bike. My car is not very big, but we've driven around some pretty fat people in there so it should be OK.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Too Busy Living

Sometimes you are too busy living to post about your life.

On Saturday, the sewing machine came home. I just love this thing. I spent some time on the internet learning about it. Singer has virtually all of the records for these machines, and I found out that my sewing machine is a model 27 and was made April 18, 1912, in Elizabeth, NJ. I think that it is completely amazing to be able to find out WHAT DAY it was manufactured on. (Joe says that he has seen old toilets made in Trenton, NJ, and they have clocks stamped on that tell you what time the thing was made.) In a couple of years I will have a birthday party for it. I found a PDF of the original manual, and I found parts for it online, readily available and inexpensive! I also discovered that singer manufactured millions of these machines, so they are not particularly rare. Some person on E-bay has one for sale that they are describing as "rare" and they are asking $750. Good luck with that.

It was also Special Olympic Summer Games in New Jersey this weekend, so we went over to the College of New Jersey, where the games are held every year. It is a huge event and I can't get over how many people are involved and what it must take to organize such an event. Kate won a silver in singles and a silver in doubles, so she had a good weekend, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unmolested Friday

Good Morning.
I took a  vacation day today! My aim is to putter around the house. I'm so excited. Kate is off to Special Olympic Summer Games for the whole weekend. Joe is going to work. My son sleeps half the day, so I am more or less alone. I think, since Kate isn't here, I might clean her room a little. With wrecking ball and a bull dozer.

I'm also going to start gesso-ing the pages I've prepared in my altered-book-sketch-book. I've glued together every three pages, then I started to fold some of the pages funny, into triangles and such. The entire book is not prepared that way yet, but, it's a work in progress. It is raining again, every day this week, so I don't expect anything to dry today.

Ellene stopped by the other day and commented on the Magic Tree post. She was able to see the Gustav Klimt style fabric in the quilt. I have included some close-ups this time. Remember, this is when I jumped back into quilting. I went on line to look at fabric and I almost fainted when I saw the patterns that were available. I was seriously addicted for a while. I'd drop $100 bucks every time I looked at the site. Once I had a decent stash, I had to cut back. You know.

So, time to get another cup-o-coffee and make this day count.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Transitional Movement

I got involved in a discussion on Katinka Pinka's blog about the transitional movement. She is linking here, so I thought I would provide some info. Here is a good link that describes everything pretty well.

I find the whole thing to be exciting and scary... and inevitable. I hope I am up to the challenge! I think we should all start developing some valuable skills so we can trade for the things we need!

Check it out. From the site:

  • we used immense amounts of creativity, ingenuity and adaptability on the way up the energy upslope, and that there's no reason for us not to do the same on the downslope

  • if we collectively plan and act early enough there's every likelihood that we can create a way of living that's significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Magic Tree

One of the things I would like to do this summer is to finish my first Art quilt.

The art quilt I am talking about has never been photographed until now. I started it in January of 2007. I began this when I knew I wanted to make non-traditional quilts but was generally clueless about what people were doing in the art quilting world. So, I started a very large quilt, and have so far made it completely by hand. It is a gigantic reminder of why I don't make quilts this way anymore: It is taking forever! And since I've started making it completely by hand, that's how I have to finish it, correct? Wait a minute...

    I think for the sake of continuity, I will continue to quilt by hand the sections that have been started that way. But there are a couple of other sections that I think can get the machine quilting treatment. I originally had an idea that this quilt was going to be so amazing that I would enter it in quilt shows and it would win. I have been to a few quilt shows since then and I realize that the winning entries are so far out of my league, that I really don't have to worry my silly head about that. I can make the thing any damn way I want to and just enjoy it.
    I know that these are crappy pictures. I took them on the livingroom floor. I would have liked to have hung this quilt on the clothesline in the sunshine to photograph it, but it was raining. You can't see the fabric, much less the quilting.
    I haven't looked at this in a while, and I can see that I want to add something to the orange "mountains" on either side of the magic tree. The mountains are the part that I think will get the machine quilting. By the way, that is the title, Magic Tree. I sketched a bunch of trees until I came up with this one, which I like very much. I intend to use this tree image again, someday, in other quilts.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Antique Stores = Heroin for Me

    We had nice weather in NJ for 2 days in a row! On Sunday Joe and I took a ride on the Motorcycle. He says I need to get my ass toughened up for the trip. I was down with that, but I suggested a stop in Quakertown PA, which is supposed to have good antiquing. He was OK with that.

    So, we took the back roads, up through Canada and down through California, along the Gulf Coast and finally got to Quakertown. Of course, I'm kidding. But, someone asked me how far Quakertown was from Frenchtown, and I have no idea. It could be 5 miles for all I know, but it took around an hour. The weather was great and Pennsy has so many scenic roads.

    Quakertown DOES have good antiquing. There were 3 different antique malls on the same street, and we only did 2 of them. I scored some linens at the first place. Once you start looking for this stuff, you find that it is everywhere. Every woman in America must have embroidered doileys at one time. I try to pick things that seem a little unusual, and not too expensive. If you can live with stains you can get some deals. Things like, 3 embroidered linen napkins pinned together for $1. I found someone's half finished log cabin quilt top for $12. A few yards of old lace for $2. I think I ended up spending $18.

    Then we went to the second place. Joe felt we were wasting a good day indoors, and we needed to make this visit quick one. We spent 2 hours in there! When we first walked in, there was the most gorgeous old sewing machine. It was not a Singer, some other brand, but with the beautiful table and the machine itself in black with the gold decoration. I've been thinking that I wanted to have an old sewing machine, and this one was on sale from $180 down to $120. Not bad. We went through the rest of the place and found a room with so many ancient photographs of Marching bands. It seems that every town had a respectable band. One photo had the entire band seated in their smart uniforms, with 2, count 'em, 2 harp players. My guess is that they don't always march. There was even a picture of the Allentown Junior Band, a bunch of kids that seemed really young. The whole thing got Joe and I thinking of how different life used to be, and how incredibly accomplished people were compared to how we are now. Any educated person would be able to play an instrument, write beautifully with a pen and ink, recite poems they had memorized, and speak another language. Now, we just make and spend money.

    That brings me to the back of the store, where we found another sewing machine for only $60!!! This one was not working. Joe was looking that baby over, muttering, "I'll bet I can fix that, just needs a belt." I knew it was mine when I saw the Sphinx in gold on the machine. This one is a Singer. I have no idea what the Sphinx has to do with anything, but I love it and for $60, that was MINE. Here I was, making and spending money! Spending money on things that I think bring me closer to those people I romanticize so much. I hope Joe really can fix it. It would be cool to be able to actually sew with it.

    We will have to pick it up this week. (Then I will find out how far Quakertown really is)

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Nice Fantasy

    I saw an interesting post on Nicobella. Acey is the person who writes this blog. She has a number of issues and writes eloquently about her healing journey. She uses her art to help. She pointed out an article on Juliana Coles website that talks about what she calls extreme journaling. It's pretty interesting, and it is inspiring me to start some kind of an art journal.

    Then I started to look at the rest of the site, which offers incredible-sounding Spiritual Art Journey Adventures. I mean, Greece, Egypt, Africa, Turkey. Think about going to a place like Egypt to make art. I mean, I thought I died and went to heaven in Peters Valley, can you imagine this? Not like I can afford such an adventure, but I read all about it. For 11 days, you stay in top notch hotels, and it sounds like you are very pampered. Right away I am bothered. I don't need top notch anything. I think that really obscures the travel experience. It's also very expensive.

    There is also a private yacht that everyone travels around in to all the mystical sights. Oh brother, I think, this is going to cost a fortune. AND, you get the workshop with Juliana Coles, who has 20 years experience guiding people on their mythical, new age, healing vacations. All this my friends, for $7250! You need to know that you will be sharing a room with someone, not all meals are included, and you can find your own way to Cairo. They'll meet you there with a cocktail.

    I had to laugh. I guess the un-rich have to find a more creative way to heal themselves. Here is my suggestion: Book a local motel room for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Estimated cost, around $100 per night at most. Tell your family to leave you the hell alone, ($priceless.) Pack up a bunch of paints, rubber stamps, your sewing machine, thread, scissors, glue, sparkles, fabric, journals, etc. etc. Bring a lot of snacks and microwave dinners ($50) Bring bottles of wine ($50) Make art all weekend. That would heal at least some of my psychic pain.

    I guess I've made enough fun of Juliana and her very sweet gig. It really is a fun site to peruse. I got some good ideas in her packing for a trip section. The simplest idea that I somehow didn't think of myself, is bringing sheets of waxpaper to put between journal pages in case something hasn't dried completely but you need to move along.

    I'm thinking of bringing some kind of small scale art supplies with me on the epic motorcycle journey in July (27 more days!) I have such a pathetic packing space. Maybe I can bring one less t-shirt? I will definitely be posting about that process.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    Holy Crap, a Sale!

    I haven't had a sale on Etsy in 3 months. That is, until yesterday. I have sold some strange stuff on Etsy. Art that I have made, that I like, but I know that most people would think is weird at best. I think this just-sold collage is a good example of that. Why, out of all the things on Etsy, did someone come across this and buy it?

    This collage comes from a set I made back in 2006. My boss is an adjunct professor at the local community college (of which I am an alumni) and he set up an art show for all of us who work here. Understand, I work in the creative department of this big ol' corporation. Pretty much everyone here went to art school. Amazingly, almost no one here makes art on their own. Most don't go to art museums either. Last year I went to a Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Philly Art Museum. I was trying to tell people about it and NO ONE KNEW WHO SHE WAS.

    So anyway, we were having an art show. We ended up having to ask people outside our department to participate, but, whatever. I had been known for making art. After I graduated from college I started making large collages and had some small gallery openings and a lot of shows in coffee shops and restaurants. I was selling work. Then I went back to college briefly. That stalled my personal art making. I dropped out of school, because I could not handle that, and the new job I had just been promoted to, and the house I just bought. Oh, and I was a single mom with 2 teenagers. My creative outlet became the house, and the garden.

    So there I was trying to figure out how to start making art again. I could not just pick up making the same collages that I had been. I felt I was past that, anyway. So, I began with little exercises. I would take an 8.5x11 piece of paper, and dig through my huge stash of clippings and just start doing it. I was not even too worried about how I was gluing everything, because I would take the collages to work and laminate them. It was very free and easy and I was really enjoying myself. I was using images that I had been hanging onto for years. After I finished around 20 of these collages, I realized that this was, in fact, the art. I just kept going until it was time to hang the show. I had over 60 collages, and I just tacked them up en mass on the wall. I noticed that people spent a lot of time looking at them, there was a lot going on in that body of work.

    So that is where these collages came from. I have kept some of my favorites, and gave some to friends that specifically asked for them. I have managed to sell quite a few on Etsy. In fact, my first sale was one of these collages.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Round and Round

    I go round and round about 2 things in my life: My job and whether or not I should go back to school.

    As I write this I am at work. (DISCLAIMER: I went back and forth to this 100 times during the day. I did not just write this in one shot, and I wrote most of it at lunch time) I'm so burned out that almost anything distracts me. The fact that I have blogs to look at, Etsy, CNN, Found Magazine, Post Secret, The Onion, Engrish, and the fact that I can look up any number of things that pop into my head on Wikipedia, well, it's really deadly. I'm cyber ADD. Yet I always get my work done. I always get a good review. I try not to talk about work because I know people have been fired for saying the wrong thing on their blogs. So, you don't know where I work right? You just know it is a huge corporation. When I first started here, it was great. Everyone was treated very well, the work was interesting and challenging, and the best resources were always available to make you efficient. Not to mention the pay and benefits, which were amazing. Over time, this has mostly eroded away. My staff has been cut to one person. All of the other departments have been cut to the point where people run around like headless chickens, and much of it trickles down to me. Most people have better computer monitors at home than the beast I'm looking into now. The bathroom stalls now run out of toilet paper, and the place just isn't as clean as it used to be. They cut the air conditioning, which, actually, is a pretty good idea. I never have air conditioning in my house, (our choice) so being hot is kind of normal to me. But, wow, is everyone else bitching!

    The benefits and pay remain good, and that's what keeps me hanging on. I have a relatively cheap health plan, and I have 4 weeks total vacation. I know I am paid very well for my education level. So I have to stay, right? Of course I do. So many people don't have jobs, or have really crummy jobs. Obviously I am just a spoiled jerk that needs to get real. I know all this yet I still really wish I was doing something else. Are there any drugs out there that make you happy when you ought to be happy? I look back and so regret some of my choices. The very definition of a mid-life crisis, right?

    This brings me to the second thing, going back to sachool. I have an associates degree in fine art, plus a few extra credits toward a BA. I don't want to go back to school. Don't get me wrong, I did very well as an adult college student, and I loved it. But at this point, I just want to come home every night from my hated job and relax. I want to hang with my husband, I want to garden, I want to sew. Just to add some zing to all this, any college I could attend is far enough from Frenchtown to be a problem.

    So, this is what I go around and around about nearly every day. I always reach the same point, where I do nothing. Another year rolls by. They are willing to send me to school at work, oh yes! My boss suggested corporate communications as a major. Just shoot me in the fucking head, OK? If I'm going to go back to school, I have to at least care about the subject! I just have no love for this corporate world. I think everything they say is crap, and they say it with that corporate speak that makes my skin crawl.

    So what school do I go to, and what do I major in? My first choice would be to continue my fine art degree. I don't think any of the state colleges in New Jersey near me have a fiber arts department. I could take sculpture and fiber-ize that. Should I go for teaching? That's almost like starting over, and it seems that a lot of new teachers I know get laid off every 2 years so they never get tenured. I recently saw a career counselor that told me it almost doesn't matter what your degree is in, just that having one is important. Another thing that interests me is Art Therapy, but I think you need a double major of art and psychology, and maybe even a masters. I would love to work in a library, but that requires a masters degree as well, I think.

    So, here I am, ready to crack open a bottle of wine again instead of think about this. More to come, I suppose.

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Summer Ritual: Antique Car Show

    These things are a dime a dozen around here, but none the less, we enjoy them. Saturday was the season kick off show in Flemington. I find my favorite thing about the cars are the logos and ornaments.