Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why I Blog

Back in the 50s the Moms in my neighborhood used to get together in the morning in someones home for coffee, or chat together over the fence. I lived in a new subdivision and all of the backyards were connected by bare fences, making it fairly easy to see a friend playing in their backyard down the street. We would climb and criss-cross over those fences and play in anothers yard. Who wanted to walk around the block? Anyway, I digress...back to the Moms. Today, you see young mothers, nannies, grandmothers, congregate in the parks, or at planned Mommy & Child activities. Women come together in church, or quilt club meetings, lunches - all sorts of ways.

But by far - this, these blogs, are my favorite "new" way to come together. Yes, we are all miles apart, isolated in front of our little computer screen, talking to a keyboard instead of a real person, but think about it. We are able to share our thoughts with anyone at any time - any person, anywhere that wants to listen to what we have to say.

I know far more people read what I write than comment on it. But those that do comment let me know that there are people out there who are listening. From them, I know that what I have to say has planted a new thought, given a smile or a laugh, or inspired a new thought or action.

I do this to talk to you, but more importantly, I do it for myself. It's my 21st century journal. For some reason, it's easier for me to keep this kind of journal than a pen and paper one. Like any form of journal keeping, these entries allow me to see patterns, draw conclusions and connect the steps of my day. When I wrote yesterday's entry, I felt it was about 3 different things - the lunch, the flowers and the sky. But reading the comments, and then re-reading it myself, I see that they are all connected. Beautiful! I love to be able to look back and see how everything is connected.

Let me tell you one more story today, and this is something that I just now remembered. I am pretty surprised (shocked) that I had forgotten what I am about to tell you. (See? this journal writing is pretty powerful.) When I first started creating Fragments, the very first ones each had a story that went with it, along the lines of what Brian Andreas does. Just a paragraph or two, often a personal recollection inspired by the photo on the Fragment. When they got to be so popular, I had to forgo the story because writing them took too long. But here's the catch - for me, the stories were the part I enjoyed the most. I thought no one would be interested in reading what I wrote unless they were forced to read it or happened upon it. I had a few repeat purchasers who told me that they missed the stories. Most people never even knew they existed. And here I sit today, having totally forgotten about them.

So what does all this mean? Well, I for one, have totally inspired myself to take up writing these stories again. I'm very excited about this remembrance. This could be that hole that I have been feeling with my art. And what does it mean for you? Well, that's for you to answer. But I hope that our little chat today over the virtual fence does inspire you to journal, either in a blog or a book. This is the perfect time to start. Make a commitment to yourself, a resolution. On Christmas day, after my 12 year old daughter, Kelly, opened the gift of a journal, my 85 year old father said, "I wish I had kept a journal. It's really the best thing anyone can do." It is. You never know what effect your words will have. If I hadn't decided to write this blog entry today, I might never have remembered the stories. What a gift to myself!
Do not trust your memory; it is a net full of holes; the most beautiful prizes slip through it. ~ Georges Duhamel

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On the 4th Day of Christmas

Mini-reunion Class of 70Yesterday I had lunch with friends from high school. It takes much planning and special effort to get everyone together and even so, there were some missing. 36 years have passed since we spent every day together in our uniforms complete with saddle shoes, and bobby socks. Yes, the bobby sock days were long gone back in the late 60s but our school was slow to change. I remember working up the courage to meet with the formidable principal, Sister Mary Clair, to ask her to let us wear knee socks, especially in the winter time. It was a no-go. Imagine those Immaculata girls with their skirts rolled up at the waistbands, white bobby socks drooping around the ankles trying to be so cool when the public school kids in their hippie jeans and Birkenstocks sauntered by. We all look quite fashionable now, don't you think? Why, we don't look a bit older than we did when we graduated. My hair is now the pale, pale blonde I always wanted (OK, so it's white...platinum blonde maybe?)

I think we have all aged gracefully. Yes, there are a few extra pounds, smile lines abound, and yes, a few worry wrinkles (we are all mothers). But some are now empty-nesters and Glenda has even retired! We have suffered joy and loss, aging parents and frustrating teenagers. The beauty of it is - no matter where our lives have taken us, put us together in a room and it is 1970 again. We can pick up right where we left off. Gertrude Stein said: We are always the same age inside. So true!

These roses are days old. I love how they too have aged so gracefully, becoming more beautiful as they sag and wilt. They started out beautiful and they will come to an end just as beautifully, having done their job so well. This year is also coming to an end. Before I can look forward, I must reflect on all that has passed. Could I have done anything better? Did I make the right decision when there was a choice? Is there even a right or a wrong - is it just paths chosen on roads less taken? I am both reflecting and looking forward, determining whether to step back from all the teaching and traveling and spend time refilling the well. I am curious to see what lies inside my heart.

nothing but blue skies smiling on meI have a dear friend with whom I talk every morning. One of our catch phrases is looking up. We use it both metaphorically and literally.Yesterday I looked up and took note of this blue, blue winter sky. This song came to mind ~

Blue skies Smiling on me
Nothing but blue skies Do I see
Blue birds Singing a song
Nothing but blue skies From now on.

I never saw the sun shining so bright
Never Saw things going so right
Watching all the days Hurrying by
When you're in love, My how they fly

Those blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies, Nothing but blue skies
Nothing but blue skies, from now on.

That is my wish for you in this coming year ~ blue skies, from now on. Remember to look up.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Quote for Christmas

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~ Mary Ellen Chase

Quote for Today

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. ~ Hamilton Wright Marbie

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Just a brief note combining yesterday's attempted post with today's Christmas wish for you. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Festivus, Kwanzaa or your own spiritual path ~ may the love that we feel and spread today continue throughout the year. May the peace and love in your heart multiply through the coming year.
For somehow, not only at Christmas, but all the long year through, The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.~ John Greenleaf Whittier

The new issue of INSIGHT Magazine hit local newsstands on Thursday. My brother-in-law was the first to see it, calling me from Starbucks early in the morning. Six or more free reading materials to choose from and he picked up this one, not knowing I was in the issue. And even stranger, he first opened to page 12 - and there I was! So I went out and gathered a few copies (they're free) to hand out as Christmas presents - very self-absorbed aren't I? LOL

I asked my daughter to read me the article as I drove away. She stopped reading when we arrived at the next stop on my errand list. I said, "Let's hurry! I can't wait to hear how the story ends!" They opted to use just one large Fragment photo so readers could read the quote on it. The quote reflected what was written in the article.
I'd gone through life believing inthe strength and competence of others; never in my own. Now, dazzled, I discovered that my capacities were real. It was like finding a fortune in the lining of an old coat. ~ Joan Mills
As I said, they put out a fine magazine with attention to detail. I have been trying to upload a pdf of the article all day but cannot get it accepted. Perhaps later!

Now go dazzle yourself and others on this eve of Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Art Respite

Book cover"Joseph Cornell (1903–1972) was a self-taught yet highly sophisticated artist who is celebrated for his pioneering achievement in the art of assemblage, often in the form of box constructions. Cornell’s lyrical compositions combine found materials in ways that reflect a highly personal exploration of art and culture and that represent his belief in art as an uplifting voyage into the imagination. This stunning book is published to accompany the first retrospective of the artist’s work in over twenty-five years." (Yale Press)

The book may be beautiful, but I got to see the real thing yesterday at the American Art Museum. It is quite a large exhibit, including many of his boxed constructions and collages, in a hushed, blue-tinted room ~ blue being Cornell's signature color. My friend, Melissa, had already been to the show, so she alerted me to the box in the back of the room that lights up on the hour. Lucky us - it was 5 minutes to the hour when we arrived!

Untitled (Medici Princess)I have several books on Cornell, so was familiar with many of the pieces in the show, but seeing them in 3-D, live and in all their nuances of color, scale and texture was wonderful. The workmanship, the dimensionality, the care are all so apparent. They really had auras or vibes, each one. There was definitely something present in each one that was not visual.

My favorite part of the exhibit were the cases filled with some of his collections - ordinary cardboard boxes filled with his "stuff". Each box was labelled in his scratchy handwriting: "marb. col. rubber balls", "nests", "deadwood pieces", "cylinder images", "L'aumeir vagabonde", "turkey feathers", "nostalgia of the sea". My favorite was the Quaker Oatmeal container full of ordinary sand. There were boxes of spring, bracelets, rings. One marked "notions", and "mouse material" (I didn't want to know what that was.) "nostalgia of the sea" shared space with "plastic shells", "coral".

Like many of you reading this, I have collected stuff for many decades, long before I ever knew what I was going to do with it. I was just drawn to certain disparate objects. For many, many years it was a mystery to me, "Why am I buying this?" "What will I ever do with this?" "Why, this piece?" At first there were just enough items to fill a shelf, later a bookcase, and now several. I no longer feel bad about my stuff. In fact, I now sophisticatedly classify it all as collections. They are my tools. They are both the materials and the art itself. Each piece, perhaps a fragment of a once beautiful or precious object, being old, or found, or rescued, has it's own story, it's own poetry. It's my job to continue or to reveal its story and in turn, tell one of my own, which in the making, becomes a part, a continuation of my life story.

a small portion of my collectionThere is nothing Joseph Cornell did that I do not have the skill to do. Many uninformed people may think that his art is nothing more than well-made boy scout projects...little boxes full of junk. But you and I know better. Many of you reading this know just how hard it really is to take unrelated and/or found objects and images and create something a) of beauty, and b) with meaning. Composition is key, of course, but so is understanding, or emotion ~ translating your soul into something visual and concrete for others to see.

Art is our memory of love. The most an artist can do through their work is say, let me show you what I have seen, what I have loved, and perhaps you will see it and love it too. Annie Bevan

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And Did I Mention TIME?

For Cloth paper Scissors March issueI feel like I talk about time a lot - never having enough of it. I reminise about my 20s and 30s. Back then, I had five young children and thought there was no time. HA! Try being in your 50s. You still have the kids but now you have yourself too. All that free time that comes after the children grow up is now absored by living your life ~ the one you put on hold when they were young. Plus you still have the children who a)plan weddings, b)change majors, c)expect Christmas presents, d)want your advice and thoughts on their every move. I LOVE that they want my advice and thoughts, so that one is OK.

Amidst meeting with caterers, making the invitations, finding bridesmaid dress for my other 3 daughters (done - cross that off the list), Christmas shopping, and helping out my parents, I did manage to squeeze in some art this week. Sometimes I think you don't believe me, but I did get two things off in the mail this week. I just can't show them to you as usual, because they are for the magazine (sneak peek photo above) and another book that Lynne Perrella is writing.

I hope you are all having a smooth December and calmly preparing for your own holiday festivities. We'll be chopping down our tree on Saturday and I'm praying the unseasonal 60-degree weather holds out till then. It can get good and cold after that. And for you local Montgomery County, MD readers, INSIGHT magazine is due out on Friday or thereabouts ~ that's the issue with my artist profile article. Can't wait to see it! I'll post it on here once I have it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Spirit

My Winter WonderlandIt has finally arrived ~ my Christmas spirit. Perhaps it is the cold weather that has finally blown in to DC. Maybe it's the Christmas shopping I did this week. Could it be the lights Kelly has strung throughout the house, or one of my favorite Christmas songs playing on my computer? (Have you seen Love Actually ~a Christmastime must.

What exactly is Christmas spirit? How would you define it? Is it one of those "you-know-it-when-you-see/feel-it" kind of things? True, this time of year can be hectic and frazzled and frustrating, but it is also a slowing down time, when things that normally take priority slide into the backseat and the true, genuine things in life come to the forefront - family, love, random acts of kindness, smiles. People really do act nicer during the holidays. It's like we're all in a good mood at the same time. We're glowing, just like the lights strung on clapboards, bricks and boughs, mirroring the twinkling in our eyes, the overflow of light shining in our hearts.

Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words ~ Harlan Miller

Now back to the studio. Or is that Santa's workshop? No matter what you call it, it's the place where I make my magic.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I've Finally Been Tagged

All this tagging that has gone on and I've always been able to dodge the bullet. But when someone as sweet as Annie Lockhart tags you, it's hard to say no. (She also tagged nina and Misty, so check to see if they did it too.) Besides, this one is funny - 6 Weird Things About Me. So here goes:

1. It's not weird to me, but my family says I hold my pencil, my brush, my fork funny. I rest them on my ring finger and control movement with both my index and middle finger. It's just not comfortable the other way. Am I the only one?

2. Nine out of then times I eat each food on my plate separately, saving the best for last. I taste everything, determine what the "best" is, then eat all of one, thing, turn the plate so the next item is in front of me, eat all of that and then there it is - the best for last. Obviously you would not see this behavior when I have a plate of spaghetti in front of me. I don't think it's weird at all, but my family begs to differ.

3. The latest weird thing (and again, it's not weird to me) is that I sing along with my new Ipod. Of course since my family cannot hear the music, they sit there laughing at me. But hey - I simply cannot keep my mouth shut or my feet still when there is good music playing. I think those who are not moved by the music are weird.

4. Speaking of music ~ I also tap my fingers a lot. On the steering wheel when I am driving, while I am watching TV, odd quiet moments. My husband has been known to lay his hand over mine and say, "Relax". But one of my kids pegged it - she asked, "Mommy, are you keeping time to the music in your head?" You betcha! And this was years before I got my Ipod.

5. I'm struggling here. Obviously we do not really think our own behavior is weird. It's the rest of the world that classifies it as weird. But the next one just occurred to me as I applied some chapstick. It's the chapstick! I simply CANNOT live without it. I carry one with me at all times and reapply several times a day. My lips really need it ~ really. I have heard that you can get addicted to chapstick. I once told my kids that if I am ever in a nursing home, please be sure my bedside table drawer is filled with chapsticks. More recently, when they announced the ban on liquids and gels, and before they approved lip balms (under 3 oz of course), I must confess that I snuck some onto a plane. I could not fathom going for hours without any. So I smeared some onto wax paper and stuck it in my pocket, praying that I would get through security without a major incident.

6.I like to hold my thumb in between my index and middle finger ~ another hand thing. I have a lot of hand issues don't I? Yep. I even like to look at them and admire them. They're not that pretty, but they are marvelous tools, an extension of self, my means of self-expression.

Should I tag anyone? I must admit, this little exercise has been very self-revealing and I have enjoyed it. So I tag you, the anonymous reader. It's totally voluntary.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

While Waiting

Waiting for family to get ready to go to my sister's for turkey dinner....surfing the net, reading JuJu's blog and discovering this wonderful Australian artist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Power of Positive Thinking

My granddaughters (Emma, Kathryn, Annie), my daughter Kelly in the middleHappy Thanksgiving! Warm wishes to you and your loved ones.

I love this time of year. Not the cold, I hate that part, but the action of turning inward, to home, family and self that winter brings. I spent last weekend with my grandchildren in Massachusetts. When they called me on my birthday, I told Annie that I would make the wish before I blew out my candles that I could come see them (knowing full well I was coming). When I left Monday, her parting words were, "Wish again." And wish I will. It's hard not having them nearby but someday, someday soon I hope, their house will sell and they will head back to Maryland. That's my wish.

Cate's tea room with new pink tinsel tree - see the pile of fabric in the chair on the right? She was showing me her stashWhile the little ones were at a friend's birthday party on Sunday, I went a few miles north to the home of Cate Prato, Cloth Paper Scissors Feature Editor, for a spot of tea. Her tea room is definitley "a room of her own" in soft pinks and greens, filled with beloved teacups, vintage fabrics and furniture. After tea we headed to a well-hidden antique mall in Sterling where she fell in love with a vintage pink tinsel tree. It was quite the bargin and even came strung with little pink lights.Oh My Gosh Antique Mall in the old cider mill I scored a bolt of fabric and the best vintage red dress - too small for me to wear, but large enough to provide me with endless inspiration.

I am not doing Thanksgiving this year, that honor goes to my sister. This holiday is the beginning of a nice long period of nesting and creating. First on the list is getting prepared for my photo shoot for INSIGHT Magazine, a Montgomery County, MD magazine that features local artists, among other things. I had seen an issue a couple of months ago and was so impressed with the quality of writing and overall presentation of the magazine that I thought, "Gee, I would like to be in that magazine." Of course, I never had time to do anything about that thought, but lo and behold (what does that phrase really mean?), they contacted ME!

This type of thing happens so often - I think, and it becomes. It's scary in a wonderful way and just goes to show you that there is something to all that "positive thinking" theory. My favorite school of thought, TUT (Totally Unique Thoughts) has the motto "thoughts become things." I get an enlightening email every day from them reminding me of that fact. It's not a magical, overnight thing, but training yourself to be a positive thinker, no matter what school of thought you ascribe to, can change your life.

I love how I get off track when writing these blog entries. What's true in life is also true in art. Just start and see where the art will take you. You do not need to know where you are headed or where you will end up. The important thing is to be moving forward on the path. If a fork in the road calls to you, take it. Trust your inner voice and judgement. Know when to stray and when to stay on the straight and narrow.
Let your thoughts be positive for they will become your words. Let your words be positive for they will become your actions. Let your actions be positive for they will become your values. Let your values be positive for they will become your destiny. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
And most of all, give thanks for what you have.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Monday: Part Deux

Restored Carousel buildingAfter the Cathedral, we went to Glen Echo Park for lunch and recess. Glen Echo has a rich history: "Glen Echo Park began in 1891 as a National

Chautauqua Assembly, which taught the sciences, arts, languages, and literature. By the early 1900s Glen Echo Park had become a premier amusement park that served the Washington area until 1968." Unfortunately the park closed in 1968, when I was 16, because of the after-effects of the 1966 race riots in DC.Art Deco midway. Cotton candy? Popcorn? Guess your weight?
I took my first (and last) roller-coaster ride there, on a small pink one built for children. It scared me so much, I never thought twice about riding the huge wooden one that snaked through the park. A wooden roller-coaster - that dates me! Glen Echo is now a national park and is home to many artist studios and offers a year-round schedule of art & craft classes, as well as the Adventure Theater. Although it is no longer the amusement park my parents took me too, it is still a place where I can take my children (and grandchildren), making it a continuous part of our family story. The renovated Spanish Ballroom is available for wedding receptions, but only seasonally, as it is unheated - a disappointment to my bride-to-be daughter

One of 40 horses"One of the Washington areas local treasures, the historic Glen Echo Park Dentzel carousel is the Parks crowning jewel. Installed at Glen Echo Park in 1921, the canopy and the carved figures were made by the Dentzel Carousel Company of Germantown, Pennsylvania. It is a classic example of hand woodcarving popular during the early 1900s. You can still ride the carousel today. In 2003 the 20-year restoration project to restore the Carousel to its original 1921 beauty was completed." Ride the Rabbit"There are forty horses, along with four rabbits and four ostriches. Riders also have the choice of a giraffe, a deer, a lion and a tiger. And there two circus chariots that people can ride in. One-thousand lights shine from the carousel. It looks very inviting, and not just to children. The restoration exposed decorations long-hidden under layers of paint and some elements were repainted to match their original colors." The carousel was closed for the season, but I was able to take beautiful photographs through the windows. The park is an interesting contrast of restoration and decay, which provides an artist with lots of eye-candy.

A memory stirs each time I enter the park, crossing this stream that feeds into the Potomac River. At one point, a portion of the parking lot was built over the stream. One year, after weeks of rain, the far corner of the parking lot (full of cars) crumbled and tumbled down the side of the hill.

The unrestored House of Mirrors now houses offices. As a child, I spent many evenings in there, nervously winding my way though the maze, hoping I would find my way out. Would it be crystal clear to me if navigated by my now-wise eyes? Last night I discovered how hard on my eyes the day had been - taking in so much, filling them to the brim with color, design, inspiration. Everything at the Cathedral was new to me and I could barely drink it all in. Everything at Glen Echo was full of memory but yet, filled my eyes with wonder. Always a beginner...
Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl
Be aware of wonder, live a balanced life, learn some and think some and draw and paint and sew and sing and dance and play and work every day some. ~ Robert Fulghum

Scroll over the photos to learn more.
Stream at park entrance races towards Potomac River
Window into a child's world - the childrens' studio
Things grow more beautiful with ageSee how the twins age?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday: Part 1

Yesterday I went on a field trip to the National Cathedral with my daughter's 7th grade class. Being a 6th generation Washingtonian I have a history of never actually visiting some of the places right under my nose, figuring they will always be there for me. But as I approach 54 (on Thursday!), I realize that it's time I discover the things in my own backyard. So I signed up to chaperone this trip.Pews replace chairs near the main altar Not only is the Cathedral architecturally significant (Gothic style, 100% stone construction), it is a wealth of history and...needlework. Yes, needlework! Unlike pews with the built-in kneelers that I am familiar with, in the Cathedral, worshippers sit in chairs. So when they kneel, they need a kneeler. Each one is a work of art, a different original needlepoint cushion, and most often red.

Colorful kneeler

One of my favorites, this one depicts Louisa May Alcott. The walls are covered with needlepoint tapestries, both modern and traditional. There are over 1,500 pieces of needlework in the Cathedral, portraying historic Americans, floral patterns, baby animals and many other work painstakingly done “for the Glory of God.” One could spend a day just looking at kneelers. And stained glass, gargoyles, intricate ironwork, stone carvings....

Childrens ChapelAs the docent led us on our tour, I took many, many pictures, but lighting conditions were bad and most were too dark or blurred because of the slow shutter speed, so bear with me. (I hate the flash). Off to the right of the main aisle there is a Children's Chapel, where everything, including the kneelers,with their playful animal motifs, is scaled to the size of a six year old child. Downstairs in the crypt level, side-by-side lie the ashes of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.

Queens and Presidents have walked the very same marble floors that we did. Like the White House is "the People's house", the Cathedral is the people's church, “intended for national purposes, such as public prayer, thanksgiving, funeral orations, etc., and assigned to the special use of no particular Sect or denomination, but equally open to all.”.Hand-carved stoneworkGothic archesCrypt altarI hope they were 1/2 as impressed as I was
And did I mention the kids?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


We have a beautiful park nearby, Cabin John Regional Park. I love to walk inthe woods, but I must be honest, I am a fraidy cat. I simply cannot relax while walking alone for fear the boogy man will get me. I think it's a city girl thing. Actually I feel more confident and in control on a city street where I can see everything. So I usually disregard the call when the woods beckon. Sad I know. But yesterday it was like spring here - warm, 70's, sun shining, clearest blue of a sky. I dropped my daughter and her friends off at the Mall. The park entrance was just a block away. It beckoned, I went. And I LOVED it. Why? Because there were no leaves on any of the trees and I could see everything. There were no hiding places. I had my cell phone and a clear 360-degree view of all that surrounded me and I felt safe. Less than a mile from the Beltway and the Mall, and I was in the middle of the forest, all alone. And I was safe. It was a much needed respite from the whirlwind of my life.

The forest floor was decorated with leaves in shades from red, to orange to brown. Many were well on their way to drying out and becoming fertilizer for next years growth. I gathered a few of the loveliest and then noticed these small, soft, pale pink ones. Soft, like new growth, yet fallen, like all the others. I like to think that the unseasonably warm weather had fooled them into sprouting and then a cold north wind knocked them off, just so they would land at my feet. They were sent here to remind me that there are always beginnings, even when everything else seems to be coming to an end. And beginnings are fragile, easily disrupted until they take a firm hold in our lives. It takes courage to be a beginner, to walk into the unknown. Yet we begin every day anew. We are all always beginning.
If the angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner. ~ Rilke

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Glimpse of Houston

Look what I made!I taught this class, Sew What ???, twice but only took pictures in the first one - really, how many thumbnails do you want to look at (unless of course, it's you in the photo, and even then, see how some people hid their face behind their book?) Click on the photo if you want something you can actually view. Sew What??? is a sampler class of different materials one might not normally sew on: mica, metal, copper mesh, transparencies, and yes, pages of luscious, hand-painted watercolor paper.

The quiet before the stormHere's a photo I took of the show floor from the second floor before it opened on Sunday. Actually, this is less than 1/2 of the show floor. And then there is the quilt section, which is itself 9 football fields big. So you can see why just walking around the convention center tires you out. Classrooms are on the third floor. Up, down, all around. I must have traversed it 15-20 times in one week. Wish I had found my pedometer before I left. And it's not like I had calories to walk off. We had breakfast and lunch in our room everyday to save money - banana, bagel and peanut butter & jelly. We did splurge on dinner, but even then I didn't have the appetite for much. The only extra weight I came home with was from fabric and books - my two loves.

Finally - a chance to site downHere I am relaxing with Pokey, (Patricia) Bolton, Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors, and fellow teacher and roommate, Christine Adams at the extravagant reception Karey Bresenhan, Quilts, Inc President and Festival organizer, hosted for all of the members of the QuiltArt list, Journal Quilt Project, and Studio Art Quilt Association

ArtGirlz NationI had to conserve my energy for teaching all week, but on Sunday before I left I was able to spend some time on the show floor schmoozing with the ArtGirlz in their colorful booth. It was practically empty by Sunday - they have some great stuff that people flocked to buy. (You can too in their online store). Traci Bautista is there next to Tracy Stilwell, me and sister Allison Stilwell. Traci, Tracy and Allison taught amazing classes in the Mixed Media classroom and on the show floor at Make It University, introducing quilters to their funky style. I won't say who is, but I'm not the oldest one in this photo. Don't we all look great?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mixed Media Art Quilt Class

Here are some of the gorgeous quilts that came out of my Mixed Media Art Quilt class in Houston. Everyone started with the same palette of paints and painted their background then sprayed it with water and let it drip and roll - take a look at our improvised clothesline.

They created with felt and Lutradur branches, transfered the bird and egg images and then put their own spin on the composition. Their work blew me away!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So Much to Share

I thought I'd come home and write a nice blog entry about my week in Houston. Then when I got home, I figured my blog entry would be about my new book arriving on my doorstep 2 months early. But last night changed everything. It's always so amazing to me that life can change in an instant. I had to change my blogging plans to talk of a wedding!

Jeff and Sara came over last night to have pizza dinner with us ~ The future Mr & Mrs Jeffrey Joiner nothing out of the ordinary. When dinner was over and the other 2 kids at home had scattered, Jeff asked us if we would give our permission for him to marry our daughter. I knew this was coming but figured they would wait until the holidays to announce it. Ha! And I thought I would have a quiet 4 months at home to organize and create new art. Could the Life of Riley get any better? I am riding the moon with this news. We spent the rest of the evening calling the rest of the clan. I could hear my other daughters (at work & at college) screaming through the phone when Sara broke the news.

the perfect holiday giftAnd yes, I was thrilled when I opened the package from Lark Books that was waiting for me when I got home from Houston ~ MY BOOK! I wasn't expecting it until January. I still have to call and find out if this means that everyone will be able to get a copy now, before the holidays...a great gift idea you know.

And Houston, Quilt Market and Festival. I'm still processing everything that I took in all week. Amazing students, astounding art, new opportunities, products, people, possibilities. It will take another whole post to tell you all about it, so stay tuned for more later this week.

PS I am revamping my blog so some of the old things are missing until I get it all set up again.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Halloween

Outside our front door

This will probably be my last post before I leave for Houston ~ so no tricks, just these treats for you before I go. All of my girls did make it to the pumpkin patch on Saturday and it was a glorious day. Just crisp enough to feel like Fall, but not so cold we could not enjoy ourselves. And enjoy we did. We headed to Butler's Orchard, the closest working farm in Montgomery County, MD. Mrs. Butler had agreed to give Sam a discount on 100 pumpkins that she was using for a fundraiser. Four beauties in a patchSam and her roommate started the Ophelia Club at Frostburg State University. The college student members work with local middle school girls to help them deal with self-confidence, identity and the social troubles that abound in middle school. I'm so proud of her! That's Sam (19), on the left, Kelly (12), Sara (27) and Kerry (17).

Is this the Great Pumpkin, Mom?There were special BIG pumpkins for sale down at the shop but we passed on those this year. We sipped on apple cider, sampled pumpkin butter and loaded our arms with apples, fresh veggies and of course caramel apples, before heading home.Should I be a ghost or witch for Halloween?I am really looking forward to the Quilt Festival. I'll be there the whole week, teaching, doing 2 Make and Takes on the show floor and hanging out at the Cloth Paper Scissors booth when I'm not shopping. Hope to see you there!