The Cat Walk, Flattopper Pride and Play Out underwear

PlayOut_8

This week has been such a fantastic experience. Emily Jensen, of FlatTopper Pride, came to town to walk the cat walk wearing Play Out underwear. FlatTopper Pride is a supportive space where gender presentation and cancer intersect. If you are queer, or an ally of the queer community and you have had breast cancer and want to discuss your path in a supportive environment, this is the group for you. 

PlayOut_14

Since my diagnosis of breast cancer, I have been using the unique opportunities presented to me to open discussion on what it can mean to be a woman and be breastless without apology in a breast obsessed world. The show we walked in had a theme of Ken and Barbie, with the intention of using dolls or toys to speak to body ideals and body dysmorphia. So the stylists and make-up artists did their magic and turned us into dolls. 

PlayOut_9

Seeing the two of us looking all plastic-y, walking confidently down the runway in nothing more than Play Out underwear , revealing our scars, helps to narrow the divide between how we are ‘supposed to look’ and how we actually look. The breast cancer closet, where we are supposed to quietly resume our lives as if nothing has happened, while maintaining the breasted and ‘known’ female shape is being redefined. Body confidence is where it is at.

 

Being visually represented in the media is important to all people, it acts to bolster our sense of person and humanity. Body image, acceptance and love can be challenged after breast cancer treatment and I hope these images help other, newly diagnosed women see that flat reconstruction is one beautiful option among many, breastless bodies are beautiful and that breasts do not define us.

EJMTRedCarpet2

 

Please read the Hello Giggles article, written by Jackie Reeve, called: Meet two young breast cancer survivors who just revolutionized the runway.

Wow, a whirlwind.

These last few weeks have been amazing. Hectic crazy, fun, well worth it.

IMG_0822

My creative stand still came to an end, thank goodness.

I went to quilt market while visiting my Bestie. I learned a lot.

IMG_1072

IMG_7701-0.JPG

And the Play Out (click this link to see a sexy, hip commercial for the undies) and Flattopper Pride underwear photoshoot went viral. It started with HuffPo, then it shifted and became a sprinkling of articles, then I started seeing my photograph under Japanese characters, in Norwegian online magazines, BuzzFeed, Mashable, People. I was interviewed for an article in Women’s Health (apologies to my husband, it just popped out.). I don’t know what, ‘in association with the New York Times means but, I think it got very close to being in the New York Times, if not officially in it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 11.08.24 AM

I was able to meet Barbara Rosenblat, the actress who played Ms. Rose in Orange is the New Black, a favorite show of mine. In season two she was in cancer treatment. I won’t tell the story, I just loved the character she played. Rain Dove, the androgynous model I am pictured beside in a few of the ad campaign and on the red carpet event at the New York Women in Film and Television, where I met Ms. Rosenblat.

Rosa1

I was thrilled. I love the above scene. Just love it.

I experienced vile and bullying comments. That wasn’t a treat. But my self esteem is not tied to other people’s opinions of me, so that is that. I am thinking up a post about this, having to do with allowing love in, opening your heart to all body types, breasted, reconstructed, flat, fat, thin and differently abled.

Let me know if you are interested in this.

OH! And, I am printing the border for my next quilt top! Next up, green!! Photos to follow. Let me just say, I want this quilt top done by Saturday, Quilt Guild! I am very excited about it.

And, hey wait!! Brave? Well, yeah. Determined. Willing. Beautiful. Brave is the least of it.

#BreastlessBeauty

Please comment. I miss you all. It has been a good few weeks and better to get back into the flow of creative living.

 

 

Thermofax 101, Screen Printing Made Easy by Lyric Kinard, dvd review

Thermofax_Lyric

I first met Lyric Kinard at a QATV taping in Ohio. I was immediately taken by her presence and we have remained friends through the years. I own a copy of Lyric’s book, Art+Quilt, which is very detailed with artistic concepts and approaches, and illustrates how these can be applied to work in the quilt medium. When Lyric asked if I might consider reviewing her most recent, self published DVD Workshop called Thermofax 101, Screen Printing made easy, I jumped at the chance. 

I do not own a Thermofax machine, though I wish I did. I am grateful that Lyric maintains a service where you can purchase Thermofax screens and supplies using your own original artwork, or you can purchase a selection of hand picked, royalty free designs. Knowing I would be reviewing Lyric’s newest offering, I went to town creating a few designs to print with, and I bought several screens using my own original designs.

The DVDs and supplies came promptly to my door, I ordered 6 screens, 6 frames, and I chose to mount my own designs after watching the DVD. Everything was packed tidily, no dents, folds or problems.

Now, I am not a total Thermofax newbie. I have bought screens from various friends and services, I have used these screens (to death), and I know the general framework of the process. I have not specialized in the use of Thermofax screens, because I do not own one. Also, and this is an odd one, I have found using Thermofax screens to be a bit of a challenge in terms of how to manage all of the items needed on my small work surface. More on this later.

So, I popped the DVD in my player, sat and watched the 65 minute, 4 chapter video. Lyric did a fantastic job covering each aspect of the technique. Her delivery is well presented, energetic, informed, and engaged. Lyric unpacks the essentials of what you need to know, but she also delivers additional information to help you envision, for example, how to make motifs that speak to one another in a unified manner, she talks about media you might screen-other than paint, and she touches upon using Thermofax screens in mixed media too.  

 

One of the things I really like is that Lyric shows a foible that she experienced when working with the wrong type of paint for the job. she corrected her mistake and discussed that too. We all make mistakes, it is great to learn how to recover from making artistic mistakes and Lyric is not afraid to discuss this. This is one of the things that makes a great teacher.

  

The thing that impressed me the most is, Lyric even offered a suggestion as to how to manage the screen, squeegee and paint while working! She discussed an issue that I have, in using screens! I thought I was just being persnickety! But no, this is a concern and Lyric addressed it.

  

So, yes. I highly recommend Lyric’s newest offering, Thermofax 101. I confidently suggest you purchase your own copy and support my good friend, and, do not hesitate to use her screen making service. Printing with Thermofax is a great way to easily print repeatable imagery on cloth. 

  

(Here you see, I have used a freezer paper resist over a previously printed floral dot. I am using thickened dye, which is not a focus of Lyric’s DVD. Dye is a love of mine and I have more of it available than I do paint, so I went for it. One of the nice things about dye is that it does not dry into the mesh of the screen, making it easier to clean. )

I am also quite happy to say, Lyric will be giving away one copy of her DVD to my readers. For a chance to win, please comment on this post for your chance to win. I will email the winner on May 13. Lyric will ship overseas too! Please comment.

Check out what my fellow bloggers did to support Lyric’s new endeavor:

April 24 Cheryl Rezendez  http://www.cherylrezendes.com

April 25  Leslie Tucker Jenison  http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com  

April 28  Sue Bleiweiss  http://www.suebleiweiss.com/blog/

April 30  Judy Gula  http://www.artisticartifacts.com/about_us/contactus.htm

May 1  Susan Price & Elizabeth Gibson  http://pgfiber2art.blogspot.com/

May 2  Judy Coates Perez  http://www.judycoatesperez.com

May 4  Linda Stokes  www.lindastokes-textileartist.com

May 6  Jane Davila  http://janedavila.blogspot.com

May 6 Melanie Testa http://melanietesta.com/blog/

May 7  Liz Kettle  http://www.textileevolution.com/index.php/our-journey

May 8  Carol Sloan  http://carolbsloan.blogspot.com

May 9  Kathy York  http://aquamoonartquilts.blogspot.com

May 11  Susan Brubaker Knapp  http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com

May 12  Desiree Habicht  http://myclothesline.blogspot.com

May 13  Jamie Fingal  http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/

May 14  Deborah Boschert  http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com

May 15  Sarah Ann Smith  sarahannsmith.com/weblog

Everything in between

   

This chair, with its lovely patina, can be found at Rex, a coffee shop on 10th street between 56 and 57 in Manhattan. It is not the most comfortable chair. But it sure is pretty.

  

I have a thing for chairs, if you have not noticed. Artistically speaking, chairs equate to nudes for me. When I started writing Inspired to Quilt, I was asked to cut back on placing nudes within the book. This was in the hope of attracting the broadest audience possible. So, I moved to depicting chairs (and birds, always birds).  Chairs allude to the human form, we rarely walk into a room without coming upon a chair. People recline, rest, wait, gather while sitting in a chair. So when I come upon an interesting chair, I draw, or in this case, photograph it. It is good form to do so, taking notes, snapping pictures, keeps items and ideas accessible.

  

There are two color ways of this chair print in my first fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham. If I get my way, there will be more. Once we alight on motifs that impress us, spark the imagination, it is a good idea to honor it and continue on the quest of expressing your appreciation of the idea. In the photograph that follows, you can see a bit of hand printed chair in the lower right.

  

While sitting in the aforementioned chair, I worked this piece. It is my goal to make my small work art quilts as similar in style and nature to my journal pages as I am able. When working with different media and hoping to carry ideas over from one format to another, we must realize there is quite a difference in media. Applying paint with a brush to paper is much different that applying dye to cloth, paper is smooth and has finishing agents that hold the paint in place, where cloth is much more absorbent, and I haven’t even mentioned the difference between paint and dye. What I am trying to suggest though is, there is no direct correlation between mediums. We need to bridge the gaps we experience as we come across them.

The journey to finding these parallels began to occur prior to writing Inpired to Quilt, and continues to this day. For example, in the piece above, the finches were drawn using a ruling pen and paint, on silk organza. Silk organza is the equivalent to tracing paper in my journals, it is sheer, it can be layered and allows what appears underneath to show through. The ruling pen itself is a parallel to a pen, and allows for fine line drawing on cloth or paper, using any color you are able to mix in either dye or paint. 

I have a good handle of the tools needed to cross media. What I am working on is creating imagery that can flow and jump off the page and find a continuum on cloth, my preferred medium. This is the fun of being an artist and following where the visual and artistic journey brings us. I continued this exploration within Dreaming From the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. And honestly, I think this will be my journey for many years to come.  

———————

   

Today I went to my 4 month check up with my oncologist, all is clear. I am good to go for another four months. 

I need to ‘talk cancer’ for a moment and I hope you are ok with this. Cancer sucks. I am happy that I seem to be in remission, I have the ability to beat this and I know that not all folks do. Within my support circles, I read and keep in touch with folks who are experiencing stage four cancer, where keeping the cancer in check is the only option and some of my friends and acquaintances have passed from this disease. I do not mean any disrespect in talking about something as trivial as hair, but I find I need to.

It has been about four years since I lost my hair to chemotherapy. I was bald, I didn’t wear a wig, I didn’t feel the need to. When my head was cold, I wore a hat. I was told that my hair might return different than it had previously been, it might come back thicker, curly, it might change color, or come back thinner. Secretly, I hoped it might come back curly, as I have always had poker straight hair. Instead it came back super thin. I used to struggle to wrap an elastic around it twice, now, I bet I would need to wrap an elastic 5-6 times. I have had to change the part in my hair so that my head does not show through as much. I have been trying to grow my hair out and I realize, my hair has become my krytonite. I can handle being breastless, I had to make a choice, I did, I went with it. But my hair? Not so much.

I saved my life, I exercise, I am eating healthier, I am alive. Now, I need to accept, this is the way my hair is now. I am glad to have hair. It sure beats being bald, or dead for that matter. I don’t know if I can grow my hair out-I have gotten tired of cutting it and haircuts are expensive, here in the city, I am going to give it to the end of the summer and decide at that time. Whatever I do, I need to stop the conversation in my head, the negativity and disappointment I feel, when I look at my reflection and see how thin my hair is. The experience of breast cancer and its treatment has made me shine a fresh and bright light on beauty ideals, how they affect me (and us), and has encouraged me to break down my assumptions and become a stronger more vibrant woman. It is time to apply what I have been learning to my feelings and thoughts about my hair. 

Thank you for sticking with this post, it was a long one.

allow, welcome, be present

   

I have been sewing on the subway and beyond. It is interesting to sew in public, it is not done very often, I regularly see knitters, I know I have seen crocheters, I have seen people drawing. Of all of these activities, knitting happens most often. But even still, not as often as you might think. I feel tentative about sewing in public.  I started using my Gather your Sew-plies purses to sew on the go a few years back. I remember feeling much more open and present to sewing in public at that time. I look forward to feeling more ease while whipping out a needle, cutting a length of thread and putting needle to cloth.

The Gather your Sew-plies purses are pretty secure and hold all of the essentials, thimble, a spool of thread or two, scissors, wax, all attached to my person due to its backpack styling. I carry my projects, along with the Gather your Sew-plies purse in in my everyday backpack. All of it is really easy to gather up and put away, if I loose myself, and forget to listen to the subway announcements. It is a tidy package. 

The Quilting Arts Holiday issue that contains this latest pattern for the Gather your Sew-plies purse is on sale half off, click here)

 

I look forward to beginning to stitch this piece. I printed the left most portion this last weekend and sewed it to the right portion yesterday. One of my overarching goals in working with cloth is to make my fiber art more akin to my painted work. So, I plan to invest in intuitively placing new motifs, lines and secondary patterns by way of embroidery and stitch. This will be fun to watch unfold.

I have been loving Instagram (click and follow me!) and the ability to search hashtags! My latest fun find is #subwaytalents. There are many musicians who play in the subway, and I think it would be great to add stitching to all the underground talent. I think the person who owns the subwaytalents page found me through my use of the hashtag #NYC, or probably more accurately, #nycsubway. I daydream that perhaps I will start a public stitching trend, silly, perhaps. But who knows? Anyway, I am posting videos and photos to Instagram, I often cross post to facebook, but I also post images solely to Instagram. I hope to see you there as well.

Listening to quiet. 

   

Stitching is a quiet and soothing activity. It is meditative in nature, the world becomes each stitch. The needle emerges, gets a small tug, and then is pushed back through, again and again. It is a slow and steady activity. Expressing ideas with needle and thread is rewarding. Lines become images, small stitches become marks, flecks of color.

Peach likes to sit on my work.

 

I am recovering from a loss. It has not been easy to connect with my creativity, to access and engage with my creative center. I find solace in stitch, it is helping me re-member. Stitch is  populating my mind and pushing the old and stale to the perimeter, and out. Thankfully.

Quiet is helping me reconnect, rebuild and be present. 

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I have felt a sense of panic. It is as if I fear not having the time to do my ‘life’s work’. As if I need to do all of ‘The Things’ -right now-, because I may not be able to do them later. This has the effect of putting pressure on myself to perform. Making, art, being an artist takes time, it can’t be rushed or forced. My husband, my Man, gave me a great pep talk this weekend, he reminded me just to make stuff, not to think about what I want to do with it, but to just do it. I needed to hear this. It is so good to love a good man.

So. 

I am just making stuff. I may not even call it art. I don’t want to do anything with it. And even if I just go through the motions, I trust I will find comfort, solace and peace in simply making. I am willing to watch ‘this’ unfold.

sewing wherever I go.

  

I have been preparing myself to be able to sew wherever I go. A few years back, I began to make the Gather your Sew-plies purses, in the hope of being able to keep all essentials at the ready, in a neat and tidy package. (In case you are wondering, a pattern was published in last years Quilting Arts Holiday magazine.) Along with this, I have gathered an array of colorful embroidery thread, several hand-work projects and I even bought a protective, sturdy case for my iPad, so that I do not have to worry, too much, about it being bumped and joggled. 

  

In addition, I am researching the best coffee shops in New York City (with free Wifi), so that I can really experience sewing wherever I go and documenting my experience. Today, I am again at my local coffee shop, 61 Local. I bet I come here a fair amount because it is local and easy, but I also want to see and experience different parts of the city, especially as the weather improves. I love sewing in public, or public displays of sewing, as I like to think of it. Many folks sew in a privacy of their homes or studios, but for this project, I would like to think of the city as my studio.

And! I love watching tv as I sew, as long as I have access to wifi, I can watch tv too! Here I am watching The Connection, a (short term) free streaming movie, promoted by Food Matters about the mind-body connection. Watching tv in public (I wore my headphones) seems silly, though also fun. And why not? Normally, I listen to music on my headphones. Watching tv in public isn’t all that different! Odd, maybe.

Do you sew in public? Do you draw wherever you might be? How about knitting in public? If, you too, have interest in busting out of your normal space, with your everyday activities, I would love to hear about it.

Plastic paint (I mean acrylic).

I am project surfing to be sure. I am doing a bit of this, some of that, and enjoying myself. As I have said previously, I don’t have a lot of experience with acrylic paint. No problem there, it just leaves the playing field open, allowing me the freedom to try new things. I am looking forward to replenishing some of my supplies, which will give me a chance to check out mediums. Fun.

   

At the moment, I am at a cross road. This painting of a Green Heron is a nice start. I have placed my lights and darks, the details are missing, the bird is overshadowing the background. Whenever I come to a crossroad, no matter the media I am using, it is time to take a photograph. This is the ultimate way to compare and think about the image. It allows me to look at the work as if I am seeing a thumbnail sketch. Comparing the snapshot to the painting helps illuminate value differences, shows drawn inaccuracy, it is just helpful.

  

What caught my eye when comparing the photographic inspiration to my painting is the value difference between the bird and the greens it flies among. My painting appears much more stark, with the bird being a heavy force, on a light ground. I am not so much interested in the color green, as I am wanting to merge the background with the bird in my painted rendition. I will start by working with the lower right corner of my painting. I envision some decorative elements placed there.

 

This will give me time to figure out how and what detail will help the Green Heron really pop and will help place those wonky bird feet!

That scant 1/4″

   

I continue to work on my Meadowlark Quilt Top. 

As I think back, I took my first quilting class at 19 years of age. This was 26 years ago! I recall, at that time, making a few quilts, I made one for my own bed, I made one for my parents, and a baby quilt for each of my nephews. Soon afterward, I began using cloth as a medium, trying out new techniques and ideas, making stuff up, having fun, as so many of us do. Piecing to make blocks to a specific size quickly went to the wayside.

Recently, when I started using the Quiltography for iPad app, I didn’t question my skill set compared to the shiny, beautiful, somewhat imaginary and easy to create virtual-quilt-top-ideas generated through the app. I just figured, yeah, I can do that. Until I tested out sewing a Half Rectangle Triangle and found that block to be a bit fiddly, being sewn along the bias and all. I researched rulers and techniques to get the job done. I settled on paper piecing, hence all of the ripped and torn scraps above.

One of the skills I forgot in the intervening years was sewing to a scant quarter inch. My machine is a Bernina 1001 and a scant quarter inch resides under and to the left of the 1/4″ foots outside edge. 

 

I am happy to say, most of these blocks measure the prescribed 10.5″ they are intended to be. Some still need to be ripped and resewn (Sigh). In the meantime, I realize that I need to sew a SCANT 1/4″. I will test out my machine, measure, and perhaps even place some tape in the correct position to obtain that elusive and scant 1/4″.  These blocks are loosely arranged (not according to the pattern). I am going back through them and measuring them to see if I swallowed up too much fabric when sewing them together. Ripping is the name of my game right now. 

When I first realized my mistake, I wanted to bury the project in the deep annals of all-things-unfinished. But I got over that. ✨ I am glad I figured out what I was doing wrong.

  

I  finished the first of the two borders, all of which turned out to be 10.5″, thank goodness.

It is now time to begin sewing, cutting and creating the final border. The one difference between the real quilt and the app’s representation of the quilt is that the tile fabric will not appear as lines perpendicular to the outside edge of the quilt. The app can’t quite parse that one out and I do not know how to compensate for that either. I don’t really think it is necessary. 

I look forward to seeing how this comes together. 

Gather your Sew-plies, sew where you go.

   

I am here at 61 Local, or at least that is what I think the name of this place is. It might be Public House 61. I am unsure. It has free wifi, an offering I will be coming to value. You see, I need to get out of the house. I have been a bit of a shut in, and I need to change this storyline. 

Last year, I moved to a new apartment, while writing a book that ended up being canceled. That was a lot of work, that also, by necessity, kept me indoors, in my workspace, making. Although the book was cancelled three months ago, I am still recovering from the loss. I had to put that artwork away until I figure out what to do with it. That left me with a blank canvas, literally. So now, I am picking up the pieces.

  

This has been a challenging time to be sure. I have not experienced this many creative hits before. I am in a bit of a creative stand still. I put a shout out on Facebook, asking what my fella artists and comrades do when faced with creative quiet. It was an interesting discussion. Many folks said they walk away, apply their focus elsewhere for a while. Others said they try a new media, some take a class. 

At the moment, I have three quilts that need binding, a Meadowlark quilt top in the making, I am working with acrylic paints and I have gathered several handwork projects, where I can use my Gather your Sew-plies! Purses to sew, wherever I go. I am also preparing to print cloth for sale directly off my blog. 

(I am dabbling in everything, it seems).

 

To help myself along, and to change the scenery, I am going to embrace the change in weather, while sewing wherever I go. My plan is to find coffee shops with free wifi, so I can sew, blog, and see new faces and places. I do love being able to get out of the house, while still being able to do a bit of this and that.