Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My April Adventures

"May these happy Buddhas' laughter fill all hearts and the Earth with joy." - Susan Shie, (I just thought that one up.)

This is Jimmy and me in our kitchen in Wooster, before I left on my trip on April 7, to teach in Post Falls, Idaho; Edmonton, Alberta; and Canmore, Alberta. It was snowy and cold that day, but when I got home on April 26, it was Springtime for sure in Wooster!

I got settled into Patti and Dave Ormsby's home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, after Patti picked me up at the Spokane airport. I went through four airports that day, and I was so glad to find Patti at the end of my travels! We got along great, and she and Dave hosted me for five days, ending on Easter morning. I feel like Patti and I are now friends for life, and am so glad she took on taking care of me in Coeur d'Alene in April!

Ths second day in Idano, Patti and I went to Lake Coeur d'Alene, where this is the view from Jude Townsend's beautiful home, high on a hill. Jude gave us a big tour of her art-filled house and made an amazing meal for five of us, including her visiting artist friend Lydia Aspen. Patti and I hung out with Jude and Lydia the day after class ended, and again, I feel like I made friends for life! This is one of the great blessings of running around, teaching here and there! I, who grew up with no neighbor girls to play with or school pals to hang out after school with (since I went to school an hour from my hometown), really appreciate having lots of serious friends in my life now! Thanks, everyone!

In my class in Post Falls, Idaho, Jude begins to work with the airpen, as another student and Lydia look on. Lydia's making videos all over the place, as this is part of her artmaking now. She lives in New Mexico now, and I'd love to go see what her own studio looks like, only I"d fry in the sun there! :)

I introduced 20-some artists to using the airpen with fabric paint in that class, as well as my other processes of brush-on fabric paint and my funky crazy-grid quilting.

Patti took me to see the beautiful Post Falls Park, where the falls make hydroelectric power in a very scenic and touristy spot. This part of Idaho faces the very western edge of the Rocky Mountains, which you see in the distance here.

My cat Cleome Wanda Cupcake Shie (Ome) checks out the new Hello Kitty sewing machine that came while I was in Idaho. I bought it for me to teach Eva to sew on, and was so happy that it came only two days after I ordered it from Target. They'd backordered it, saying it was out of stock, but I found out it was discontinued by Janome after Christmas. Janome told me they might reintroduce it this late Spring, and then I got the email from Target, that it was in stock again. I think Target got this one from the old stash, and I bet the reintroduced ones will have the top-loading bobbin, which is what we all love about Janome (one of the things!), and which this little darling sadly doesn't have. If they bring it out with a top bobbin, you can buy this one from me! :) I can tell you that Eva and I both love our Hello Kitty, but I'm sold on the top-loading bobbin!

The machine is a three quarter size Janome (the Gem, disguised in Hello Kittyness), and it sews really well. Perfect for a little girl's first machine. You'll see Eva and me with it near the bottom of this blog, but when it came on April 8, only Jimmy saw it. I had to wait til I got home from my long trip, to see it. Hello Kitty waited patiently.

I hadn't seen our new machine yet, when I made this drawing and painting in my Post Falls class. This was before I did my demo to quilt it. It's got my daughter Gretchen, granddaughter Eva, and me all admiring Hello Kitty, in my near-future dream, as I knew we'd all soon be together, doing a second sewing lesson at their house.

Here's Karen Querna in my class in Post Falls, having a blast with brushing the Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paints on cotton. Later she hit on the concept of painting a little southern girl she knows, who answers questions in the affirmative with "Yea-yuss." Was it Miss Lily? Tell me, Karen!

My students at Post Falls, at the Jacklin Arts & Cultural Center at the Old Church, where we held our class. It was a great group, and we got along really well. Hard to say good-bye to Patti and Dave and their sweet doggies, and to Jude and Lydia!

I hated to leave, but on Easter Sunday Patti drove me back to the airport, and I flew up to Edmonton, Alberta, getting waylaid for a bit, due to smuggling in an apple I forgot I had on me. Kinda like Arlo and the littering on Thanksgiving, since the dump was closed that day ... But then I was swept up by my dear friend Ricki Golick, on the other side of Customs, and we scurried off to her home in Edmonton for some fun before, during, and after my class there.

Because I was bringing Ricki's Mad Port Caper quilt commission with me, she pulled out one of the final, remaining bottles of Taylor 1977 Port, from the same stash as the Mad Port Caper bottle came from. Here Ricki, her husband James, and her cousin Gregg are going through the same moves as Ricki and her mother Hilda had in 2003, when we had to remove all the crud from that first bottle in Montreal. It takes a flashlight, some cheesecloth, and a decanter, as well as a lot of laughing and other exciting things. And that's BEFORE you drink the Port!

The Evidence.

The toast, with Tovah and Lindsay, Ricki and James' daughters. Six of us toasted Ricki's mom and dad, who'd bought that case of Port in the 70s, with the intention of opening one bottle each time a grandchild turned 21. So much for good intentions!

And here's the finished "Mad Port Caper," which I showed you in several pix on my April 8 blog post. Now I was able to hand deliver it to Ricki, after all those years of making it a little at a time. Hurray! As you can see in the pix in my last blog entry, it's the biography of four generations of women in Ricki's family, from her grandmother to her daughters. All hand stitched and beaded.

This is my first classroom sketch, for the first day's group-chosen topic of "Growing." I was so pleased to get to stay with my dear friend Rivkaleh, whom I seem to only see about ever 5 years or so, and we were managing to pack in some really good hijinx in the few days we had together. One of my favorite things was listening to her play her harps, and another was walking the four dogs with her and Lindsay. Oh, and then there was all that delicious food Ricki was cooking, and I was helping to cook, in her beautiful new kitchen every day! YUM!

And here it is as a partly finished quilt, after I used it to demo how I do my quilting, in class. I stil have to finish the airpen diary on it, but that'll happen soon, soon!

This class was pretty swanky: We had two gigantic rooms that were connected. One was where we drew and talked, and the other was full of tables with great dropcloth setups, and with a huge sink. That room was where we painted and did airpen work. In the photo above, I've got three airpens set up at once, so now that each student's had a one-on-one lesson with me, they can come up whenever an airpen is free, and sit down to write or draw on their painting.

Keeping the airpen airlines from their little compressors untangled is a little bit of a trick, but it's really great to watch students getting this relaxed about using this amazing little tool, that puts archival pigment paint onto fabric with such a crispy line. Can't beat it with a stick!

This is my Edmonton class of April, 09, held at the Human Ecology Building at the University of Edmonton. Ricki wasn't in the class. My "keeper" was Elinor Burwash, who's up in the top row, on the far left. She also drove me down from Edmonton to Canmore, and took my class there, so we got to know each other pretty well. You'll notice my "First Lady" piece in progress, as a painting only, hanging behind us, like she did in the Post Falls class picture. She'll be there in Canmore, too! :) Anyhow, Elinor and I got to know each other very well, like I said about Patti, and I know we'll stay in touch. Lots of attitudes in common!

Ricki and I went to a bead shop in Edmonton one day and made Buddha Girl bracelets for her girls and us. Here they are! We used different gemstones to make all the rainbow colors for balanced chakras. Ahh! Good girlie vibrations!

Then it was off to Canmore with Elinor, driving down through Alberta on April 20, going from the flat prairies of middle Alberta to the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, to the now-touristy town of Canmore, which is nestled between gorgeous mountain peaks, in southwest Alberta. This is on the other side of the Rockies from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where I'd just been at the start of my trip.

When Elinor and I got settled in, we went exploring with Rosanne Tarnowski, who owns the Quilters Inn Bed and Breakfast with her husband Grant. Here are Elinor and Roseanne, friends from back in college, walking along a bluff overlooking Canmore. On the other side of the town's valley, you can see the beloved Three Sisters peaks, my favorites, in the top right side of my photo.

Elinor stayed at Roseanne's B&B, and we all had supper there each night, enjoying Grant's cooking skills, learned over his years as a fire fighter. Those guys can really learn to cook, while staying in the firehouse for days on end, waiting to save somebody! I stayed down the block at the Heart to Heart B&B, because I needed its wifi. I really loved my quiet times with the owner Twianne Siemens, who cooks as well as a fire fighter, if you ask me.

In the evenings Elinor, Rosenane, and I took wonderful walks along the Bow River, which surrounds Canmore, and runs very close to our two B&Bs. And one day we took off for Lake Louise and Banff, which was an amazing trip, especially since I'd never been to Western Canada before. It was breathtaking!

Here are mountain goats ambling along by our car, on the way up to Lake Louise. They weren't a bit afraid of the car or us. And this wasn't in some nature preserve, but just along the roadside. We also got close to elk, deer, and kangaroos. OK, I just said kangaroos, to see if you were paying attention! :)

And here's me at Lake Louise, though the water was frozen over entirely. In the background is the glacier that's always fed the lake. I hope it can stop its speeded up melting soon! Yikes! No more Lake Louise in a few years???????? Makes you wonder! Well, anyhow, for now I had a great time having Roseanne drive us around and show us the amazing natural wonders of the Rockies.

Roseanne was also the organizer for my classin Canmore. She began the Mountain Cabin Quilt Guild here long ago and brings in many teachers. One night I gave my art lecture in the Canmore Union Hall, but that was the night of the big April blizzard. ugh, so attendance was kinda down. But those who came were hale and hearty and gave me lots of good feelings!

This is my sketch for the first group-chosen topic for the Canmore class: Women's Work. Each day in my classes, we take 10 minutes for "library time" at the start of the class, to write and draw in our books and get ideas for the theme. We use inexpensive waterbased markers, like the ones children use, so the students will really open up and play and think like a child again. What a difficult task it is for many adults, to simply ENJOY creating! I hope I am successful at getting many people to remember what it felt like to just MAKE ART, when we were little, and to do it again now!

I toy with the idea of teaching a serious class in life drawing, say maybe a five day event, in which we'd strive for realism (yes, I know my drawing above is NOT that!) I'd have the students take turns being clothed models, and we'd use mirrors to do self portraits. I'd throw in some still life stuff, too, so it'd be like a super-condensed version of the drawing classes I used to teach at Kent State, when I was a TA. No color, just B&W, so the lines, contrasts, shapes, and textures would be all you'd have to think about. I'd make it a straight class of exercises in how to really SEE when you're looking at a subject, for drawing it. I think way too many art quilters have never taken the time to learn to draw, as a serious discipline, and it's kinda like not being able to read music, but trying to write songs. Yes, I know Paul Simon can't read music ... !

This is Isabella in Canmore, enjoying her first attempts with the airpen, as I mentor her one-on-one. I use Silk Paint's basic airpen, which is their low-end model, and run black Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paint (somewhat thinned, to the thickness of unwhipped heavy cream) through its 23 gauge stainless steel needle. Lots of tricks for how to pull that off well, but that's why they pay me the big bucks! :)

This is most of my Canmore, Alberta class. I hated saying goodbye to them and their fairytale town, but it was time to get home.
Getting home was a bit tricky, as thunderstorms and huge winds hit Chicago and shut the airport down before my plane could get in. We spent some time in scenic Cedar Rapid, Iowa's airport, before getting permission to land at O'Hare, where I ended up sleeping on the floor all night. Amazing what a little adrenalin and a body used to yoga will do for getting through weird stuff like that! O'Hare's pretty quiet at night, when it's closed!

So this is what I came home to on Sunday, April 26: Real Springtime in our front yard! I got to see the tailend of the daffodils blooming and the full bloom of the lilacs, after being in late-winter weather in Alberta. I had been gone 20 days, and I felt so happy to be home with my Jimmy, even though I loved the people I was with on my trip.

So then, when I got unpacked, on May first we went up to Cleveland and saw GEM (Gretchen, Eva, and Mike) and here are Eva and her Poppy, so happy together!

Here are my girls and I. I LOVE pix like this!

And here's the result of Sewing Lesson #2, using our Hello Kitty Janome for the first time. I babysat Eva two nights, and our project would be done, but Eva decided we'd take off Saturday evening to watch The Little Mermaid together. What could I say? I hadn't seen it before!

This piece of patchwork is the top for our Doll Blanket and Bunny Blanket, which we'll finish in Lesson #3. I took a bunch of fabrics along from my studio, and Eva chose the ones she wanted us to use. After I cut out the blocks, she and I arranged them on the floor, and then I pinned rows together and numbered the rows. Eva is going to be watching me do the sewing for a while yet, but is learning a lot about what you do when you sew. She can turn on and off the machine, hold down the reverse lever for me, and hand me pins, as well as putting them back into the tomato pincushion. Next time she'll learn to put the pins into the fabrics that I'm going to sew, if her little hands have enough strength to do that. And by the time she's five, on October 22, I plan for her to be the "driver." This is so exciting!

So on Sunday, May 3, my tArt pal Gayle Pritchard (Quatty) and I drove down from Cleveland to Columbus, for the opening of Ohio Designer Craftsmen's "Best of 2009" juried exhibition. Our ex-tArt pal Susanne Gregg came, too. She and I both had work in the show and we each won an award in the show. Yea! Above is Susanne with "7:35 AM," one of her two pieces in the show. She does machine stitching on thread grids that she creates, and then sews the thread image pieces together, suspending them in front of a solid white cloth. All the imagery is thread on thread, layered up quite ingeniously! She got some kind of super genius award! Actually it was the Ruth Lantz Award for Excellence in Fiber.

Here are Gayle and Susanne being wonderfully snobby art snobs at the show. Not even lickkered up!

And this is my piece in the "Best of 2009" show: "The Food Scales / Justice: Card #11 in The Kitchen Tarot." It's my Quilt National 2009 rejection piece. So I guess that's a good thing, since if it'd gotten into QN, it wouldn't be in this really cool exhibition, and it wouldn't have won the Quilt Surface Design Foundationi Ltd Award, which it DID. :)

After that opening, I worked like a wild thing, finishing up my First Lady piece and doing all her documentation. Check out the big images of her as an art quilt and read my statement about her on my site in the 2009 gallery. I just came back from attending the Studio Art Quilts Associates Conference in Athens, OH, during the opening festivities for Quilt National this last Thursday through Sunday, but I'll save that story for my next blog, as this one is ridiculously long already! I'll just say we all had an great time, and that my group of Therese May, Dominie Nash, Robin Schwalb (my excellent roommate), Sally Sellers, and me did a FINE job on our panel, as did all the conference presenters. And that Quilt National 09 was outstanding, as usual. Congrats to Shawn Quinlan and Shelley Baird, whose works in the show wee my favorites!

It's raining a lot this Spring, so we haven't gotten into our gardens as much as we'd like to have yet, but we keep on trying. Again, a story for the next blog.

Gretchen took this picture of Eva at her last ballet lesson of the season at the Beck Center in Lakewood last Saturday. She's wearing her new outfit for her class's first ballet recital, ever. We'll be going up two nights from now, to watch our little fairy princess do her thing and kick out the jams! THAT will be on the next blog entry, as well! Yippeee!

I'm off to watch the second half of "Cadillac Records" on DVD with Jimmy, after watching "Lawrence of Arabia" last week with my friend Carolyn TV, who lived in Jordan for years. I LOVE movies that tell true stories! "Tea with Mussolini" was amazing, too, earlier this month.

So hang in there, think peace, send love to those who drive you nuts, and get enough sleep. Thanks for being there. Make some art, of whatever kind you like.

See ya, Lucky