frenchtown fiber

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

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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

200th Post

Here is what I have been working on lately. The figure in the center is an image of a jointed doll carved from ivory.
I've had that image around for a long time and used it in a number of collages. Now he is printed on fabric. Being able to print on fabric is about the best thing that has ever happened to me. I don't think this comes through in the crappy photo, but the dark brown fabric is actually glittery. It is the only part that I did not quilt. I want to bead that. I have to look through the stash to see what I will use. Beads and a binding and I am done. In the detail maybe you can see that I machine quilted following the marks in the batik fabric. I really love quilting that way. I get into this zen place as I look at the pattern and try to find a path that allows me to sew uninterrupted as much as possible without having to stop and move the needle.

I have an image of a female doll that is around the same size as this guy. I want to make a companion piece with her

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekend in Maryland

As you know, this weekend was the Seagull Century. While Joe and friend Mark rode, myself and Judy (Mark's wife) hung around and went antiquing. (By the way, Mark is the wise-guy weather man I have mentioned in the past.) See some of my treasures right over there. I was a little disappointed in the antique malls this time. I have noticed a disturbing trend lately: the quality of stuff is way down at these venues. I've noticed the mixing of new things with the old, and, some of the stuff is really garage sale material, not antique store worthy. I would point to the economy. People need to sell things to make their rent, and the venue wants to keep all of the spaces filled.
We drove down on Friday, and the weather was really warm. I mean 85 degrees and humid. None of us were prepared for that. I had no short sleeved shirts. Fortunately, it cooled down some for the ride the next day. I heard that 8300 people did the ride this year. It keeps growing. Joe has been participating since 1997, and has the shirts to prove it. (Every year they give the registered riders a free long-sleeved t-shirt. There is a competition between artists to get their painting on the shirt. This year the background color is pumpkin orange. I really like it.)

The next day we stopped at Assiteague Island on the way home. That is where the wild ponies are. It's also nice to stand by the ocean for a while.

Yesterday, I had to leave work early because it was Columbus day, and public transportation doesn't run. The supermarket continues to operate, however, so Kate had to get to and from work. I took a half vacation day I had available. I did food shopping since I was there anyway, and still got home early. It would be so cool to work part time! I ran down to my underground creative space and finished machine quilting a small piece, and put together something new, all before dinner! pictures of that stuff soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Weekend is Here

Joe is doing his 100 mile bike ride this weekend, so we are taking today off to drive to Maryland. My co-worker has been sick for days, and I would imagine she will be out today as well. That means no coverage for my department. I worked so hard to get everything done to the point that there was nothing pressing that needed attention until Monday. I've got someone covering me in case of an emergency. I won't let my vacation be wrecked. After all, w aren't saving lives over there.

I have some birthday money so, it's antiquing this weekend!  For me that means interesting fabric scraps, unfinished quilts, vintage tea towels, etc. I received a birthday discount card from my local quilt shop, so I was over there last night doing some damage. I love fabric so much. When I go in there, I am so overwhelmed by it all.

I have a new hair color now, no one at work mentioned it. Let's just say the change was subtle. I think my salon person does things her way. I picked a certain color, but I think that for my own good she mixes it different. I have let gray hair grow near my temples. I really like it. She is so against it. Who's hair is this anyway?

I haven't read Cosmo magazine in a while. I used to love it when I was young, too young to be reading it. Glamour was teaching us to be pretty. Cosmo was teaching us to be sexy. Pretty much all magazines are going that way now. Every magazine cover has SEX TIPS. Occasionally I will have a look, and there is never anything new. I mean, we really only have a few different "parts" between us, and there are only so many things to do. I find I read them and think, "Well, anyone knows that." Or, "Well, of course you would do that." 

Just for the hell of it I cracked open this issue of Cosmo, and I almost died. Since when did this become porn? Don't get me wrong, I am not easily shocked. and sex and the discussion of sex is fine with me. I just thought stuff like this was for Penthouse Forum! And, what must be in there now???

Apart from graphic language though, everything is pretty much the same. I won't go through everything they mentioned, just one thing as an example. Chris' sex tip: Guys want you to touch their weenie. Cosmo expanded this into, like, 15 tips. Here is the very first tip: "Drum your fingers on his shaft." You know, like when you are waiting for someone and starting to get bored and you drum your fingers on the table. What? I ran this by my husband, who just cracked up laughing. Are there women all over the country doing this now? Are there men all over the country saying, "Honey, why do you keep doing that?"

OK, enough. I have to get ready. Have a swell weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Am 49 Years Old

I didn't get a chance to blog about it yesterday, but I finished the Good Deed quilt. I'm glad to be finished with it. I presented it to Vicky today. Here is Vickie holding it...

Also, It's my birthday. My last year with a "4" in the front of it. Tomorrow I am going to the salon and changing the color of my hair. Normally it is dark brown, but after tomorrow it will be "Burnt Mahogany." Not a giant difference, but we'll see what I think of that. Once I had my hair highlighted, and I really didn't like it much. Definitely not worth the cost and the time it took.

Joe gave me a nice necklace and a book: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. If you don't know R. Crumb, well, you probably should, even if you end up hating him. He is thought of as the father of the underground comic. My first run in with R. Crumb came when my dad bought a Janis Joplin album called Cheap Thrills. It was a live album with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the cover was illustrated by Crumb. I would look at that a lot, the illustrations really appealed to me, even at 8 years old. I'll give you some links to investigate if you feel like it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diversity Day

Today at work we had our diversity event. Every year we make objectives for ourselves, and 5% of our objectives are to be diversity related.( I got stuck again this year organizing this event. Long story)

We decided to go volunteer at a soup kitchen in a nearby city. Most everyone where I work is middle class and it is a really good idea for us to get out and see how other people live, what they have to face. I complain too much. Poor me! I need to decide whether or not to go to college! BOO HOO!

Here you see a picture of me, (in the hat) Ralph, who has been volunteering at this place for 9 years, and the director of my department, who would kick my ass if she knew I put this picture on the internet.

We mostly stayed in the kitchen and chopped up veggies and fruit. I peeled one million apples for the largest apple crumble you have ever seen. They feed around 150 people at lunch time. There were other members of our group serving, and they say there were some families with little children. I'm so glad they have a place to go and eat! I am told that all you need to do is show up here, no questions asked.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making Things Spiffy

The next couple of weekends are going to be busy. Next weekend Joe and I are going away. Every year he does this bike ride at Salisbury University in Maryland, called the Seagull Century. A century ride means 100 miles. They also have a 65 mile ride, which he has decided to do this year. He says he hasn't trained enough to do the 100. Another couple of friends come with us. While the guys ride their bikes all day, we chicks go antiquing. We all stay at a bed and breakfast in a town called Berlin. Really nice little town chock full of antique malls. We are all taking the day off Friday to go down.

The weekend after that we are having a dinner party here. Of course, I want the house looking good for that, but, as I mentioned, we will be away the previous weekend, so, when will I get this place in shape? Yesterday and today, is the answer.

Of course there is the usual de-cluttering, like matching up 150 CDs that are all stacked up on the coffee table with their cases and putting them away. Same with the DVDs that are hanging out, the spools of thread and buttons and whatever that have collected on the table next to where I do my hand work. The houseplants are inside now and have been cleaned up and placed around the house. Vacuuming, dusting, blah, blah. But also, I have been noticing things getting a little shabby. Like, the baseboard heating things in both bathrooms are rusting. So, After I dropped off Kate at work Saturday morning, I stopped at Home Depot to get some primer. The nice man in the paint department hooked me up with the right stuff, plus some trim paint, because the woodwork in parts of the house has been looking banged up, and a quart of white-ish paint for the upstairs bathroom.

First, the baseboard in the downstairs bath. I sanded it a little, wiped it down and opened up the primer. It was brown! I was taken aback a little by that, but then I realized that, well, it was to be covering rust, so, it is rust colored. So I gave it 2 coats and decided that I kind of like that color! At least in there.
Suddenly, it was time to get Kate again. I need to mention that at Home Depot that morning I had my first practice experience with what I will from here on call, TAKING IT DOWN A NOTCH. There were all these nice plants at the Depot, those cabbagey things that you plant in colder weather, and a big display of bulbs. So great! I will plant these things and the yard will look great... But then I backed off. When was I doing this? Does my yard not have enough plants? I left only with the paint I came for.

So there I was picking up Kate, and she has decided she needs new tights for her halloween costume. This is what you get with a disabled adult child. You are getting halloween costumes ready for the rest of your life. When she got out of High School (at 21 years old) I drew the line and said that I would no longer be MAKING Halloween costumes, and she can buy them. She has so many now that she has decided to start cycling through them again. She will be Tinkerbell, again. Her boyfriend has gotten himself a Captain Hook get-up, I will take pictures.

So anyway, Marshall's, do you have one where you live? How about T. J. Maxx? Same thing, almost. They always have so much cool cheap stuff there, which is part of the downfall of society, if you ask me. I gathered up a nice new tablecloth, candles, an apron. I started looking at the cutest shoes and then reason came around and I dumped it all and left the store with zero purchases. (They did not have the right tights for Kate's costume.)

So today is some more painting, maybe some bathroom cleaning, but then, I swear, I'm going to sew. I'm going to try my hand at re-constructing some clothing. I have a plain, long sleeved pajama top which I have sliced up the middle, cardigan style. I want to put eyelets in it so it becomes kind of a lace-up thing. The goal is to have something a little more interesting to wear to bed, but yet still warm.

A little update to my crazy-neighbor-with-the-crappy-house story. Since I last mentioned them, the door on the porch has been installed. She invited me over to see it. She got some reproduction old hardware and it really looks nice. This was the first time I had ever been in her house. It ain't too great in there, but I could see she had been trying out paint colors on the wall. We talked about what could be done in there, and she showed me paint chips for the outside of the house. Hallalujah! Finally, we looked at her outside cellar door, which was basically just a piece of wood leaning on the opening, but is now brand new. So, After my big, judgemental rant, things are starting to happen over there. Good for them. Good for us!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Decision Made

I'm just in such a mood. At work, I've gone from super busy to hanging around. Another avalanche of work is ready to crush me, but I don't have the files yet. Spinning in my head are all the things I want to do this weekend. I'd love to just go home and start now.

I recently had yet another discussion with my boss about going back to school. This guy has only been my boss about a year. I like him a lot. When I call out something as bullshit in our corporate world, he doesn't try to spin it around and pretend it isn't. He more or less says, "Yes, it's bullshit, how can we work with this?"  It gives one the feeling that he is working with you, respects where you are at.

Old boss is a nice enough guy, but he is kind of brain-washed. He was the one who was urging me to take Corporate Communication as my major. New boss showed me a situation my company set up in cooperation with Drexel University. It is completely on-line and NOT a diploma mill. One of the programs offered is Communication. Although corporate communication is part of all that, it isn't all about that. I looked at the course list and it seems interesting.,  Ethics of communication, ethics of research, journalism, web communication, speaking, public relations, etc. I have to see what of my existing credits they will take and what I can test out of.

My long-suffering husband listened to me go on about this yet again that night. I have been round and round so many times, that I really didn't know what to think, and I needed some guidence. He said that he didn't think it was going to get any better than this and I should go for it. He would fully support me. That really helped me make a decision.

The deal is, I know I have to work another 20 years. I don't want to mount posters my whole life, and I think this job might be changing soon anyway. (Things have been changing for years. I used to head a staff of 6 people, I am down to one. I think someone is moving my cheese.) I can't make enough money as an artist. I can't just squeek by, I need to make a good living. I need to leave something for Kate. Her father is such a loser, we expect him to be homeless soon, so he can't help with her. I ought to post about him sometime, you would just die.

So there it is. I have decided to go ahead and begin this degree program. Will it help? Will I end up with a satisfying job? No way to know, I just have to have faith.

My mother has weighed in on the subject, who has discouraged me from doing anything meaningful my entire life. When still in high school, she discouraged me from going to college, asking, why could I not just be a secretary? I went to college briefly for some crap I didn't want to do and dropped out. I returned to college as an adult. I remember complaining to my dad about some difficulty I was having and she said, "See? That's what you get!" Dad said, "Don't worry, you will be fine." When I decided to buy a house, she said, "Christine, you are crazy. You won't be able to do this." My dad said it would be the smartest thing I ever did. Now that I am going back to school again, she says, "How are you going to do all this? How are you going to clean your house?"

That's funny, as if, up until now I had been cleaning it! Well, if you can't clean your house you may as well forget it. My mom is not terribly sophisticated, and I think she runs mainly on fear. When I drove by myself to see a friend in Boston, she said I was crazy to drive that far alone. This was only a few years ago. She doesn't drive, so, in her mind, that must be terrifying. My dad takes care of everything, what does she know?

Of course the woman does have a point. How am I going to do all this? Well, Kate may find herself involved in fewer activities. My garden already took a little bit of a dive this year. I will be simplifying all that more next year as well.

Meanwhile, all the big shots in my department are over-joyed that I have decided to go back to school. Obviously I have some value to them. Now I just need to go through all the steps to get this approved, THEN apply to college! I suggested that I could possibly educate myself right out of the department, but they say, so be it.

This weekend I have a lot of art ideas to explore. I'll tell you all about it.