General rambling, + winner announcement.

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It has been a rough ride these last few weeks. A roller coaster, really. It is taking focus and drive to stay above the ‘frustrated fray’. Luckily, there is a new hand made ice cream store, open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and they have Muscavado Brown Sugar Caramel ice cream.

I mean, that makes everything better.

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I have been studiously working to make this a viable creative space. I know the photos is blurry, pardon me on that. My thoughts and feelings for this creative space are somewhat blurry as well. It really is time for me to rent a studio away from home but monetarily, I cannot yet afford to. This space, is in my kitchen. I have very mixed feelings about this. On the other hand, I am very grateful to have a space to make things in. I can’t complain too much. But this is a mixed bag.

I had very similar feelings when we first arrived in Brooklyn and lived on Nelson street. And, I thought that apartment was so small. This new apartment is tiny, comparatively. I remember feeling angry that I did not have a ‘studio’, but rather, an area to create in. I remember feeling resentful that I could no longer, feasibly make large pieces of art. But then, I remember too, breaking large imagery into smaller pieces and creating large work in a different manner. So, I have hope. I hope my elastic-side-view-make-it-work-self steps in and makes good soon.

I want to feel comfortable in my making area.

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David and I have been going out and doing new things recently. This week our good friend left town and offered us his apartment. So yesterday, we went into the city, had a great walk in the park, fantastic pizza, bought a bottle of wine and a pint of…ice cream, and enjoyed that while watching TV. We do not have TV, we rent shows, we watch series, but do not have paid TV. 

TV is interesting, I like to watch it when I am away from home. But I always feel relieved that I don’t pay for it or have access too it on a regular basis. We watched baseball and food channel. I love Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and there was a marathon showing! But watching TV means watching mainstream ideals in action, as we were flipping through the channels, I heard sexist remarks, racism, was immersed in consumer and mainstream culture. I much rather live without that. TV is fun in short bursts, but for me, not much else. Renting movies and shows works much better, if you ask me.

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We are working together to settle into life in a new apartment. It has not been easy. My normally positive attitude has taken a few hits these last few weeks, and David has been hit hard too. We are still piled high in boxes and I suppose this will continue for a while longer. We will need to indulge in ice cream and long walks more often. And we will need gentle reminders that we are not mad at or constrained by one another so much as, ill at ease in our new surroundings. 

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Who won, you ask? 

Patty S!!

Patty, please respond to your email and I will make sure to get your mailing address to Lynn and Lisa, who are organizing the give away.

Commemorative Cloth Making

A few years ago, I took an indigo printing class by Dorothy Caldwell, which, if you are able, I would highly recommend. In this class Dorothy showed us some African commemorative cloth that she had collected while traveling. I instantly fell in love with the idea of using cloth as a means to explore current day topics or even topics of a personal nature. 

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David and I will be married for twenty years this coming August, a date to commemorate if ever I have experienced one. My love for this man is extraordinary, he is my best friend, my lover, my husband. I learn from him and with him. David is a phenomenal being and our relationship reflects the work and focus the two of us are committed to doing ‘for the couple’. I could not wish for anything more. David is a dream come true.

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Twenty years of married life is nothing to sneeze at these days, so I choose to commemorate this milestone by printing 20 portraits of David and I (10 portraits each), which I will make into a quilt. I have not decided if this will need sashing, or how it might go together as a quilt, I like the idea of sashing to separate the portraits. In terms of it being commemorative cloth, I think that at least some of the blocks will need to be dated, a bit more information needs to be attached to the images in order to make it truly commemorative.

It is interesting to print portraits, to see the images come to life. And also to remember the moment of inspiration.

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I found this exquisite pair of goggly eyes on the street and had to bring them home. One night, David and I started goofing off and we each took a snapshot of the other wearing the goggly eyes. So you see, there are portraits within portraits here. I love that the difference in our heights is shown in the photographs and the eventual printed portraits. I always see David from this angle, as he sees me, so the image orientation is perfect. I also love that the image of David is one where he is actually happy, David does not show his cards very often.

I am printing these portraits in pairs, I want each pair to have relationship to the other. I want to see more color, and although I do not want to print ‘skin tones’, I want to play with the color of the figures to mix it up more. The style of this set of portraits at the very least nods to Andy Warhols‘ portrait series, and because of this, I want to see some brighter more cheerful colors used in the faces, at the very least. More to come.

 

 

Relaxing

David and I are on vacation. We have rented a house, on a lake, surrounded by woods and trees, we have packed our bags with great things to do and we brought the beautiful Peach.

We got meds for Peach, fearing she would get riddled with anxiety from travel. She did really well, was quiet and slept most of the way up here. Once here, she hid for 45 minutes before deciding, All Is Well.
As you can see, she has made herself at home, using my sewing machine as a warmer. She showed her fortitude, when I sat down and sewed quite a few rows on my latest quilt top. She was put off by this interruption for a minute, but then accepted it, as she is prone to do. Having her here with us is fabulous. I think I see many similar vacations in our futures.

I realize that I do not know how to relax all that well. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. If you would like to tell me what relaxing feels like, is like, or what relaxing means to you, please comment and let me know. I think for me, relaxing means there is an atmosphere of quiet to the things I do, the mental gears slow down and allow for…life to occur, without struggle or resistance.
Relaxing is having a beer on the deck with my Man, reading a book, having a cup of tea. Relaxing is also printing cloth, sewing a dress, making quilt tops. When I was growing up, my Pop exposed me to the idea of meditation, and as far as I am concerned, active meditation is the way to clear the mind and accept life on its own terms.

It feels so good to have the time and be able to connect with David in a relaxing atmosphere. David brought his guitar and some recording devices. I brought materials to make a dress and cloth to play around with piecing. I am getting so much done! I completed the back and basted one quilt top. I am working on another quilt top. And I am making a dress, designing pockets, making sure the fit is correct.

I love sewing clothing. It is a challenge, don’t get me wrong, but I love it. I started off sewing clothing, so I guess I feel a connection to self and past when I sew clothing.
It is almost time to get back to it!

But not before I show you some zigzags. This makes me happy. I am stash busting, using cloth I printed, the graphic nature of the half square triangles in this pattern is very pleasing. I am already day dreaming what the back will look like. I think perhaps large triangles in the 1000 Pyramids layout. I am very excited about piecing and quilting! I forgot how much fun it is and now I foresee a stack of throws in my future.

Quick and Dirty!

I have been playing around with making video on my iPhone. David made the music on my phone in Garage Band. iMovie on the iPhone does not have the ability to place captions, it is different than the same program for the home computer. It is fun to know I can do this and I see lots of potential for it. 

Continued Story.

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 It seems Peach has done another awesome thing. She found David and I, specifically. 

Last week I had several conversations with the veterinarian who ‘spayed’ Peach. It turns out, the spay was incomplete and uterine tissue was left inside her body. This tissue is producing estrogen. Peach needs to go into heat again, so that a specialist might be able to find the tissue and remove it. There is no guarantee that Peach will make enough estrogen in order to go into heat, but as this is the best case scenario, we hope that she does. If she does not, we need to regularly screen Peach for mammary carcinoma, in other words, breast cancer. Sigh.

I know that there are no guarantees in life, we have, just this moment, to live as fully as we are able. I love this little being and honestly hope she goes into heat again, that the surgeon can find the tissue, that we are able to lower or obliterate her odds of getting breast cancer. I am happy that she found us, that I can advocate for her. I am happy to love her. I wish that breast cancer could take a lesser seat of prominence in my life, but I accept what life has given me and us.

The veterinary office that helped Peach through her Trap and Rescue ordeal is shrugging off monetary responsibility for this portion of Peach’s care, though the vet who did the work, has said that she will pay for Peach’s re-spay out of her own pocket. I am glad that the doctor has taken an ethical stand, I am considering how to let the veterinary office know of my dissatisfaction. Speaking out is a new path for me and is directly related to my cancer experience. I have less tolerance for bad behavior now, and I want the world to be a better place, so speaking out is called for. There are many gifts related to the cancer experience and I bet part of the reason Peach found her way into our hearts, apartment and life.

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As I make more and more multicolor stamps, I am finding new and interesting ways to build images. Previously, I would draw the image, cut it out of a single piece of fun foam, mount and print the image. Now I am doing more of a call and response, I might cut a simple drawing in two colors, then cut additional layers to darken or shade an area of the image. Next I will work on incorporating textures into the background.

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 Creative flow is interesting. I work away at an idea as if a hound on a mission. Then I run up against a learning curve, as I did while working on The 20. This is when I switch gears, trying to access the intuitive thoughts that might solve the original creative conundrum. This post has two cogs in that wheel.

As I try to workout the Procion MX dye wash out troubles, I began making multicolor stamp portraits (the image of David in the middle of this post, and also this self portrait). Now, needing a break from the portraits, I have decided to carve a set of alphabet stamps. It is at times like this when I need to complete a project or two so that I can get back to what is really bothering me! This week will be geared toward finishing up my side projects and solving my Procion MX whoas.

 

A podcast, breast pockets, todays ramble.

This week Ricë and I recorded a podcast on ” Going Flat and the Breast Pocket Project” and if you have an hour, please listen to it.

 


Studio Melly is up and running, hand dyeing embroidery floss. I ran out of cards to wrap thread on, and so, began making my own. I am crazy. It takes as long to make your own floss cards than it does to dye the thread (not really). And I do love seeing all the colors lined up in their boxes. I lament they are plastic, but can’t live without the orderliness. So I am ordering these.

I can tell you, I am learning a thing or two, dyeing all this thread. It is an interesting process. 

I have been gifted with an entire set of Havel Scissors. I like them a lot. They are a nice compliment to my sewing shears, but don’t replace them. The blades have a serrated teeth that has the effect of being grippy. I like these scissors for their accessibility, they are in high use right now.  Because I have an array to choose from, each having  specific use, I can confirm, I like the embroidery scissor, it is a bit too big for my Sew-plies purses, but it is lightweight and has a nice grip.

I don’t have an affiliation with Havel scissors, I am just giving my own opinion.

This is a set of pockets that I started working on last night. They will have graffiti stitching. 

We walked into Dumbo, taking photos and talking. The morning was magical and we began our walk just before the hustle and bustle of ‘family wake up time’. We had our cappuccino, we walked, paused, took pictures, it was great.

 I don’t know what this building is called. I will find out.

Me and Him.

My good David and I went to Seattle for a few days, we rested, relaxed and enjoyed time together. You might imagine that being a care taker, being taken care of, surviving cancer treatments and moving into life after active treatment is quite a process and I can attest to that, it really is! Taking time to connect and enjoy one another is essential. 

Boy did we need this time together.

I don’t know that I have ever seen starfish that are as big as this. We stood about 20 feet above this starfish and I bet it was bigger than a dinner plate. I am not saying I would like to eat it though.

I am so happy to experience open air markets like Pike Place Market in the U.S.! All this hermetically sealed food in plastic wrap? Does it have to be this way? Gosh. When we were in Barcelona we explored a market where a butcher had a cutting block that had been hit so many times it was severely concave, it was impressive. I know. Germs. Phobia. But you know? We humans seem to stick around! 

Me and him at an ATM machine. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

This was a good vacation because it was just relaxed. We walked all over the city. We found ‘favorite ‘ spots and frequented them. We ate well. We enjoyed drinking wine. We talked, loved and were present to one another. What could be better?

We even stepped out of our comfort zone and ate meat! Andouille sausage sandwiches with sauerkraut , potato salad and a pickled pepper to be exact. It was just something we stumbled upon in Pioneer Square. It cost all of 10 bucks for two plates and it featured foods found in Pike Place Market. We don’t eat meat often but we are opportunistic! They placed gorgeous thick wooden tables and benches in a small park surrounded by brick building that must have been at least 100 years old. There were ball jars with wonderful flowers and happy eating people, come on! Try some meat! OK. And another local treat? Yum.

And I do like my 50 year old trinkets. I didn’t buy any of it because they thought so highly of it (price-wise, that is). But it was a vacation to be cherished and daydreamed about!

Last year at this same time, my hair was just growing back in and I was preparing to go to Switzerland to teach (you really should go to that link and watch the video Marlis created). This last year has been quite formative. Cancer, facing my own mortality, has changed me, not to mention my body. I have been quiet for all of the above reasons. I am returning and settling in to myself, I have been quite creative too, just not very verbal about it over the interwebs.

If you could hear me over here, you would hear a big sigh.

Thread as traveler.

David and I just got back from shanty town, oh uh, I mean, Seattle. What a great city. It feels like a town, which is nice.

It is such a working town, quiet, humming right along, I loved walking the streets. We passed through neighborhoods, quaint with corner shops, over highways, alongside real traffic, through alley ways, the whole deal. We kicked back, ate, drank, walked, boy did we walk. Maybe 6 to 10 miles a day. We had a clean fresh room, we found a coffee-shop to land in, I stitched, he read. We ate doughnuts! The raised cinnamon sugar doughnut? I am glad those doughnuts are on the other side of the continent! Can’t walk there from here! We went two days in a row and each ate 2 doughnuts a day!

 

A total of 4 doughnuts! OMG

 

We don’t eat doughnuts in-real-life.

 

Anyway.

The production of Sew-plies Purses is unceasing. The above Poppy Sew-plies Purse feels very Inspired to Quilt in look and feel. Working with organza just feels comfortable to me. And to watch the sheen of the thread against the organza? Very i2q.

I painted these poppies, perhaps a year or more ago. It was just a sample, playing around with dye and trying to paint and achieve color variations, I liked it, so I batched, washed and put it aside. Layering it over this scrap of Japanes kimono fabric is really opening up the visual conversation. Being able to see through the organza, to see some but not all of the silk undeneath? And to sew them all together? That is the magic of working in layers like this. 

The difference is the use of commercial prints and hand embroidery. What fun a single stitch is. I love hearing the needle rip the cloth, the thread pulling through. Joy. Relaxation. Did I mention the tea shop we found? I am looking to find a yummy green or white tea. I am sorry, I keep derailing my own post. We have been having such fun!! Tonight we will walk Manhattan.

The Sew-plies Purse is playing a huge role in my makings! I am literally sewing on the subways, at the coffeeshop, wherever possible. My goal is to draw, transform, change, create texture, communicate through needle and thread.  To sew imagery from experience as quickly as possible, given the medium. It slows me down just enough! 

Fun, fun, fun!

100% Human

I am enamored of labels. I remove them from my clothing, collect them in baggies, I love them. I daydream of a collection of labels organized by color. The last time I visited my folks, I nabbed a coffee bag label printed on twill tape, I am telling you! Precious Item alert. Yup.

I am making this ‘garment’ for myself. So I decided to stitch my own label, so far I have embroidered,

‘Made in New Haven, Ct

100% Human.

What should the small print should read?

Do I need some care instructions? I like the idea. 

David and I are still enjoying a vacation with each other, so I will be scarce for a few more days.