Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Architectural Piece

I have finally finished this piece with the binding and sleeve. I don't have a title for it yet, but it was inspired by part of a picture I took of a house. I showed you the beginnings in this post (go to bottom of page).

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sugar High

Nothing I've done today really compares to the experience of going to Powell's Candy Shop. So I won't even tell you about it. We've been wanting to go see this shop for awhile. All Anna's friends had already been and were telling her about it. It is a small candy shop that has every kind of candy under the sun, including some "retro" ones. I thought it might be set up like an old fashioned candy shop, but it wasn't really. They did have a tin ceiling and retro things on the walls. It was kind of small and packed today! I took lots of pictures (quickly since there were so many people).

They had lots of sugary drinks, too.

Here is Frank and Anna outside getting their sugar rush!
Here's what I picked. It was expensive at $4.50, but part of the proceeds go to art education in New York or Washington D.C. And I got a little reproduction art photograph by 6 year old Connor.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Abstract Chair Study #2

First, I want to thank all of you for the suggestions and input. I tried to respond to you individually if an email was provided. Several had mentioned things I had already been thinking. Several had some new ideas.

Today, I worked on another chair. I incorporated some of these suggestions. This piece has a completely different feel and the intention was very different. (The photo is a little darker than it actually is.) I had done several sketches in my sketchbook and was planning on doing another with the hand dyed fabrics. But as I went to the sewing room, I said, "Why don't I try it with commercial prints first, just for fun?"

I already had some scraps that had fusible webbing on them. That led my choices as I wanted to use them up and not start with new fabric. Here is what is different about this one:

1) I went back to the Peltex as a base and cut it in a regular rectangle (with right angles). It is 8" x 10".
2) I started with the background first and started randomly cutting and laying out the pieces, trying not to make all the edges line up (I will discuss more about this later).
3) I left the chair centered but after having the chair on top, I thought the light pink to the right needed something else. I added a strip of fabric and created a not-so-abstract vase with flower stitching.
4) The thread I used for the black outline is Jean thread (much thicker and I like it better).
5) Since the background already had lots of pattern, the thread I used for the background is the invisible thread. I did long up and down lines, but I did not use the straight stitch, I free motioned it. I like it much better as it has the same quality line as the black lines. I also made the lines very close together. You probably cannot see it this picture.
6) I thought the back was nice, so I did not put on a backing and finished the edge with a zigzag stitch. It is more of a burgundy color but seems more black in this picture.

Here is the back. The up and down lines had gray thread in the bobbin. The vase is floating since I didn't want to outline any kind of table on the front. I have discovered that I cannot sew my signature (initials) the same way I write them as I lift my hand from letter to letter. I will have to find some other way for it to work.

I am quite pleased with this piece. As I said earlier, I had a different intention with this. In the first piece, I purposely wanted to line up the background blocks with the chair blocks as I wanted the chair to become even more abstract. Is it a chair or just a set of blocks? Maybe if I had not titled it, that would have helped. Either way, the finished piece did not match the intention. I am planning on trying it again. I also plan to continue trying with different intentions and incorporating some more of the suggestions.

Hope you are all having a great weekend. Obviously, I have not been doing yard work, laundry or grocery shopping that I should be doing!

Saturday, May 26, 2007


What am I doing for the long weekend? Frank went to play in the mountains for a couple of days. So when the cat's away, the girls go shopping! Actually, I don't enjoy clothes shopping very much. But Anna had some things we needed to return to the store. On our way to the mall (blech), we saw several garage sales signs around the neighborhood. We decided to take a detour.

I do love shopping at garage sales! It's like recycling. I'm not a fanatic and go to every single one or seek them out. But we do like to go by when we are out riding bikes or driving by. (The bike is a good way to go because it limits you to small purchases. Except for one time when I found an art rack I wanted to get for our school. We disassembled it and I was riding with metal pieces sticking out of the paniers and a big one propped on the handlebars and my shoulder. Fortunately, we knew someone that lived close by so we dropped it at their house until we could come back with the car.)

I digress. At the first garage sale, there was some good kid stuff. Anna purchased a couple of things and I bought three hardback books for her that I had been thinking about getting. The lady that lived there said "Hi Lisa." Of course, it was one of those times I had no idea who she was! The voice was familiar. About 45 minutes later while driving in the car, I finally remembered she was the PTA treasurer several years ago (her kids have since gone on to junior high). I was relieved that I eventually remembered.

At the second sale, Anna spent her money on a donut. I found this little treasure for 25 cents. I have no idea what it is. Do you? I thought it would be great to use the metal end for batik to create swirls on fabric!

I also found this dress for $2. It doesn't look like much in this picture. I can wear it (although it goes down to the floor, and past, on me) but that was not why I bought it.

The fabric on it is awesome. Here is a close-up picture. It has a lining underneath. I told Anna I bought it to make something with and she said "And who knows when that will be." I don't, but someday it will eventually make it's way into something.

Here's what it looks like without the lining. I could cut it off at midriff and have a shirt and extra fabric to use. I'm not sure how I would finish the edge though. It looks like the maker serged the edges before turning them under and doing a topstitch. Any suggestions? I really don't have any experience altering clothes.

I also got a nice sweater that fits well for 50 cents.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Abstract Chair Study

I should probably not even be showing this as it is not great, but I do have questions and could use opinions. This is a study I did. I didn't use a pattern but just cut pieces freely by hand and fused them to batting. I then did free motion stitching around the chair. I wanted these to look like drawn lines so I did not worry about being exact or perfect. Here is the front and the back:

I did the background quilting with a blue variegated thread (the chair with black thread). I just left the sides wonky when I put on the backing.

Here are my thoughts and questions: Should I have done the background quilting in the invisible thread (like I had done in my Color Block series )? Should I have done different quilting? Would curves had made a nice juxtaposition or maybe I should have made the straight stitched lines more "wonky" to go with the lines around the chair? I like how the lines around the chair look like a drawing. I think I would like those lines to be a thicker thread, so I have bought a couple different sizes to try. Any recommendations? Would it be better if the chair wasn't centered and was more asymmetrical? I want to try this again and do a few different ones, maybe even larger.

I used warm and natural batting as that is what I already have. However, I did not like it with this piece. I really like the peltex for the stiffness but can't go too large with that as I do not want to bend it under the sewing machine arm. I might try a piece of felt for the next one or something else.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oodles of Doodles

I am taking an on-line class for fun called Personal Symbols from Susan Sorrell. It is only the second on-line class I have taken. It is at

Our first task was to draw "doodles" corresponding to a list of words. Here was what I did:

As you can see, frightened, angry, pain and enraged are all very similar.

Our second task was to go outside and do some "doodles" or "symbols" of what we saw. As you can see, I was more literal with these.

The third task was to combine them and make new ones. These are more exciting as this is where I didn't really have to think about a specific idea or concept and just let the doodles evolve as they liked.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Today I took a one day printmaking workshop at the art museum. There were only three of us which made for a nice, relaxing class. We looked at the different techniques in the Chuck Close exhibit. We were to bring a black and white copy of a photo portrait to class. I do not care to do portraits and I think it is very difficult (for me) to do someone I know. It didn't say self portrait and that was good. I didn't want to do myself. So, I found a picture of Anna. She has a funny expression on her face but I liked how her hair and eyes were.

We worked on doing a linocut from the photo. My linocut doesn't really look like Anna to me. It has kind of the same feel as the picture. First, I printed in black.

I went back a few times to do some modifying in the carving. After several black prints, I was still not very happy with it. The other two students in the class had started with gold as they were going to do the reduction print with two colors. I didn't think I was going to do that. Hence, why I just did black. Finally, I thought I will see what it looks like with the gold.

I like it in gold a little better. Then, I thought I might was well try the reduction print, too. This means you use the same block and cut out all the parts you want to keep yellow then print again on the same sheet with black. So, I gave Anna some blond highlights. I only did two of these prints. Toward the end of class I realized that I should have left the lips dark instead of making them light, duh!

I learned some things, had fun even though I'm not excited about this particular print. However, we were able to take home another piece to work on at home. I will maybe try something other than a person. It certainly made me appreciate the extent of Close's work more!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I had to make a tough decision (for me) today. Those who know me probably know I don't like making decisions. I'd rather avoid them than have to make a choice. I'm getting better about it and learning to say no when I need to.

We all have made choices about our paths in life. What I wonder is what if the direction you choose is maybe not the one that is really "meant" for you? I know many people choose one path and later in life go back to their "true" calling. What if there are many paths that are meant for us? How does one particular decision affect you down the road? Or even change the road you are on? Does it even matter if you are happy? Food for thought.

I made my decision and now I just wait to see where it takes me (or doesn't).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I am having a nice, relaxing day. I hope all you moms out there are, too. This morning Anna gave me a lovely card she made.

After breakfast and reading the paper, we hopped on our bikes and rode downtown to Julia Davis park. We rented a pedal boat and pedaled around for about an hour. Anna loves these things and we don't do it that often.

We saw other mothers out enjoying the fine weather.

Then, we got back on our bikes and went to the bagel shop downtown for lunch. It used to be called River City Bagel Shop but to our surprise it is now called Alia's. The menu is the same but they added nice spots of hot pink and lime green outside with some flower boxes in the sitting area and added some splashes of color and more funky seating inside. Anna and I both had yummy broccoli cheese soup with a bagel. Frank had a breakfast bagel. Doesn't that blueberry french toast bagel, toasted with butter, look delicious?

After lunch, we rode over to The Record Exchange to exchange some CDs. I don't think they have many records, but mostly CDs and DVDs. Our CDs were so old and dated, they did not take many of them. But we did get a $10 credit. I found an used Putumayo CD combo that had Music from the Coffee Lands and Music from the Chocolate Lands. Too bad it didn't include chocolate! But when I opened it up at home, there was a bonus world samper CD in the box.

I really like the Putumayo series of CDs. They have lots of different ones and I have a few. A couple we have are the "playground" series they make for kids. Anna likes them, too.

I had Frank take a picture of Anna and me outside the store (seeing how it is Mother's day, I thought I should be in one picture). The outside was recently painted by a local artist. It is very cool. They used to have another mural on the walls, but I guess they decided it needed an update and this is what it is now.

Back on the bikes again to head home and up the big hill that always awaits us on our return trip. Yesterday the temperature got up to 90 degrees. The weather has been beautiful today: sunny, clear with a cool wind and only in the 70's. After we arrived home, I just sat outside in the sun and laid down on the hammock for an hour or two. It was so nice, I felt guilty about doing absolutely nothing. But there is a quote from someone that says something like, "The best time to do nothing is when there are lots of things to do." Besides, it is Mother's Day, a good time for a break.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Could Do That

The past week and today I have been doing things that needed to be done or should be done. Today I just took a little bit of time to do something fun (meaning creating).

In the museum store, there are some pins for sale. The artist made them of felt and beads with some stitching. I thought, "I could do that." I say that to myself a lot. I think I am pretty good at looking at something and figuring out how it was made or can work out some way to get something very similiar. However, I think I am also getting wiser over the years. Sometimes I say "I could make that, but will I? Is it worth my time to try to make it or would it just be easier to buy it?" Sometimes I just say, "I could make that but I don't want to."

Anyway, I thought the pin would be pretty easy to do as I already had the stuff on hand. So I tried it. I just cut pieces free-hand and didn't really have anything particular in mind. I think it is kind of cute. If anyone knows the original artist (I guess I could find out at the store) I will list it here, because I am definitely copying their work, even though mine looks different. However, it is just for myself and I am not planning on making any to sell.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Back to Art

This is what has been occupying most of my time the last few weeks. We have been putting up a Chuck Close exhibition. For those unfamiliar with this artist, he does huge face portraits (some are taller than me). The show we put up concentrates on his printmaking techniques, although there is one painting. He uses a grid and layers of colors and works from a photograph (which he takes). If you are far away from the work or squint your eyes, the grid disappears and it looks more like a photo.

Up close it looks more like these squares of shapes with different colors. Very cool! If you are in the Boise area, stop by. He is a well-known artist, nationally and internationally.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

What I Did This Weekend

I made some placemats this weekend. As you can tell, they are not very exciting. But they are functional. I didn't follow a pattern, just made them up. They are reversible and I like the fabrics. That's as creative as it got.

I also managed to plant some plants, take Anna to a class, take Anna to volleyball, shopping for Anna, go to the grocery store, take furniture to the consignment shop and did one load of laundry.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Tag, I'm It!

Beate tagged me. The rules start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself. People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog. Then choose another 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog.

O.k. 7 things about me:

1) I don't drink coffee. I remember my mom telling me once that you're not grown up until you drink coffee. I guess I will never grow up!

2) I love cats, but am allergic to them. However, we have a nice neighbor cat that comes to visit us.

3) I went to college at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I got a B.A. degree with majors in Art and Business and minors in English and Art History.

4) Someday I want to go to Japan. I like oriental things.

5) I like to create "piles" as my husband says. I usually find it easier to locate things in the piles than afterward when I clean them up and don't know where I put stuff.

6) My best friend Carin lives in Colorado and I miss her often.

7) I bought an adult push scooter so I could scooter with Anna. I think I enjoy it as much as she does.

My seven people to tag are:
Terry Grant
Pam Rubert
Sarah Ann Smith
Liz Berg
Melody Johnson
Deborah Boschert
Kristin La Flamme

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Earth Day Everyday

Global warming or "Climate Change," as the politicians call it, have become the buzz words of media as of late. Things are urgent now. Polar bears are losing habit, things are heating up, oceans rising, etc.

What I wonder is why didn't the media or politicians listen to the scientists thirty years ago? What would things have been like now if they had? I won't get into all the politics, reasons, how we've messed up the world. I think about the environment a lot and how the actions I take affect the environment. Someone else had a list of things they accomplished one day on their blog. For some reason I started thinking of a list of things we do to help the environment. Here is a list of what I try to do for the environment:

- recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum/cans, plastic bottles and bags
- carry own grocery bags to the grocery store (they are also a lot more sturdy than paper or plastic)
- I am starting to try to remember to bring my own bag into any other type of store
- reuse backs of paper
- try to walk Anna to and from school whenever possible (it's a little over a mile one way)
- try to do errands all at once or do several if they are all in the same area
- ride bikes (sometimes to work or do errands that don't require carrying lots of stuff)
- when we have remodeled, I try to find natural, sustainable products when possible (we have put in bamboo flooring, two different types of cork flooring, used clay plaster on walls, low/no VOC paint)
- we've bought some of our furniture used
- donate clothing and other items to charity
- I have been trying to buy most of my clothes at a consignment/thrift store. I have also gotten some of Anna's clothes at thrift stores
- try to turn lights off every time I leave the room. Actually, I try not to turn them on at all if there is enough natural light. Am trying to teach Anna to do the same.
- I make sure I have full loads of laundry when washing. This isn't too hard since I put it off so much there is always a full load. I use mostly the cold water cycle.
- I take my lunch to work. Then, I don't have to drive anywhere or use disposable containers. I use reusable containers for lunch when I can or reuse the produce bags from the grocery store.
- I sometimes wash out Ziploc bags to reuse again. I try not to use many to begin with.
- I turn off the water while brushing my teeth.
- I try to think of a new purpose for something when I don't need it for the original purpose. i.e. using old kitchen containers for dyeing fabrics.
- I try to use recycled items for art lessons as school when I can think of a project.
- I have saved old clothing to use in quilts and art
- I donate money to environmental groups
- I occaisonally send emails to my senators about environmental issues
- I sometimes buy organic food.
- We took out the grass in our front lawn and put more drought tolerant plants (looks much nicer and we enjoy it more)
- we put a filter on our faucet so we drink tap water, not bottled water

Now, I still do buy new things like art supplies and fabric, fly on airplanes, drive on old car that doesn't have great gas mileage. All these and more use resources. There are still many, many things we could do to have even less impact on our surroundings.

I found one man's blog who is really experimenting with living without impact. It is called No Impact Man.
It makes my list seem like peanuts. But every little bit helps.

By the way, the picture above is an Artist Trading Card I made a while ago.