Archive for the ‘Notes from the Lunatic Fringe’ Category
One of the great things about being an artist is that you get to redefine how people use all kinds of artistic toys.
There’s a mad kind of creativity that ends up reaching for the oddest tools at the strangest moments. It’s how we grow. In the main, it’s embarrassingly awkward, thrashing around with with the pile of things that might work.
This week I was shaping leaves and flowers with Innovative Crafts Heat and Shape. We’ll have a full article in the Winter Issue of Crazy Quilt Magazine, and you can read it there.
I spent yesterday trying out different curling irons on this stuff. This is from a woman whose worn a pixie hair cut at least 40 years of her life. We even tried out the one with balls. It didn’t exactly work the way I expected but it did curve petals.
None of it happens if you can’t try and fail with abandon. I lack any rational linear ability to reason in straight lines. That’s ok. I can thrash through one weird idea after another with abandon. The only times I really get into trouble is when someone sets up a system that will only work one way. I’m not very good at systems that only work one way.
And after I’ve dyed fabric in the crock pot and quilted my quilt upside down with a Sweet Sixteen, what did you expect?
I’ve taught for almost 30 years. And you would think that would be tired, but it’s like the old history joke. The history teacher is asked, “Did you change the test?” and he says “I don’t have to. The answers changed anyway.
The answers change as you teach. So do the questions. But the best question always is, ” What cool thing can I learn today?”
You also learn that people learn different ways. Do they want to make something? Learn a skill? Work on color theory? Work on design? Just do something silly for 3 hours? Create their masterpiece?
Over the years I’ve crafted classes to fill all those needs. Because I believe in teaching people where they really are and what they really need now. I’ve put together this catalog to help you figure out what you really want to learn and how you want to learn it.
So here’s a fun list of all the classes and lectures with all the materials, supplies, class outlines and available books.
Ask what you’d like to learn and how you’d like to learn it, and there’s a list of classes that will meet your needs.
I’ve done tutorials and on line sharing. But the truth is that nothing is like the synergy of a classroom where you’re energy and that of everyone in the room is focused on what we’re making today. I invite you to experience that by going to all kinds of classes. There’s nothing like the real thing.
I teach anywhere as long as my travel costs are covered. The way classes happen is if you ask your group for them. Please share this with your guild, favorite store, retreat or art center. Share their information with me. Tell them what you want to learn. I’ll see you on the road.
Find the full catalog at http://www.scribd.com/doc/141189249/Ellen-Anne-Eddy-s-Classes-Lectures-and-Seminars
There’s a world of difference between being and artist or a writer, and doing art and writing. That moment in front of an audience appreciating what you’ve done is very ephemeral. Don’t blink. It’s short.
The eternity simply doing what is needful to do your art is much longer. And as Screwtape said in the Screwtape Letters, humans don’t do consistent constant efforts. We go in waves and troughs in every direction, moods and well as works.
So yesterday when I went into the studio and found the washer filling without a stop and the plumbing leaking from the ceiling, I said to myself, in the way one does.” Another glamorous day of art.” It’s a bit early to call the plumber. It’s just about time to call the washer repair man.
I believe being creative is not a special gift. It’s part of who we are as people. It’s your human genome at work. We are creative about how we order our world, make our lives functional, keep ourselves sane. Sometimes it spills into great colors, ideas sprung into the world as a huge and lovely statement. Sometimes it simply just spills out of your washer.
So with that in mind, I’m going to celebrate my creative spirit with a call from the plumber and a day filming sewing process. Because the creative urge and need doesn’t stop for disasters. It simply adds them to the laundry list.
The Screwtape Letters is a lovely book by C. S. Lewis. It’s about a senior devil teaching a younger devil the art of temptation. You’ll find it on Amazon or probably your local library. It’s a worthy read.
For yourself, I wish your creative spirit alive and active in all your day brings. And I hope mine brings the plumber and the machine repair man.
New year is upon us. If the Mayans were right we haven’t realized that yet. I had a neighbor child ask me what my resolutions were. I said I wanted to work harder and more and eat less. He asked me what last year’s resolutions were. I said I wanted to work harder and more and eat less.
It’s funny, and it’s not. The year changes but we don’t. Instead, the same flaws and dings come to the surface.
I’m not so sure I believe much in New Year resolutions. If it was that great an idea, it should be employed now. Not on a special date.
But I did run into a blog called Mark and Angel Hack Life that made some sense to me. I don’t know much about them. You can read their blog from the link. It was called Things you must give up to find peace.
But they had a very interesting useful laundry list. I won’t quote their comments, which are worthy. But for the New Year, I’d like to square my thinking, not my behavior. It seems to me that thinking is what I really can change. And that I’m willing to take on.
1. Old regrets and excuses.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. How long can I beat myself with guilt?
2. The burning desire to have all the answers.
No one I know has them. Why should I?
3. The false hope of a pain-free life.
The medical version of this is leprosy. Appealing, yes?
4. Ties to insensitive people.
The best thing I know to do for people is to take them exactly where they are.
5. Obsessing yourself with negative news.
You really can’t fix stuff that isn’t somehow directly in front of you.
6. The belief that fulfillment resides in the end result.
The journey is always everything. Which is good because I’ve had a lot of journeys.
7. Measuring your success by material wealth.
Note to self: Rent a dumpster. Do you really want your kids cleaning out your stash?
8. The need to keep everything the same.
Change is good. Change is good. Change is good. If I say it over and over again will I believe it?
Actually, probably yes. All of this stuff is very hard. As everything worthwhile is. It strikes me this is a laundry list against the things that foment despair, darkness and depression. I believe they should be fought ferociously. Not with harsh treatment or blame or shame. But with the kind knowledge that they are useless in my life, and that I don’t have to give them anything.
So my New Years resolution is to take myself by the hand, child that I am and gently tell myself no when I wander into the places that breed despair. Will I succeed? If the journey is my destination, how can I fail?
I wish the same for you as well. Find more joy. Dump more rage. Stretch your wings. I will see you on the road.
I met Clairan in Hyde Park, IL many years ago. She’s one of the most focused series artists I know of. Most of us artists bounce around from subject to subject like kid in a candy store.
Series art demands a lot more control and focus. It also offers a place to explore technique and content much more thoroughly than the mad dash to the newest thing. Clairan has a quiet steady artist’s heart that drives her in one direction, until she’s displayed and discovered all that vision has to offer. It gives her work a rich consistency I envy. And she knows how to make color glow.
Here are some works from her latest series: Windows into Time, and The Darkness Surrounds Us, and what she has to say about it.
“I create fiber collages by dyeing, painting and printing fabric I then stitch together. I frequently use applique and reverse applique techniques. I have been working on a series of Windows for several years. The form some of this work currently takes is called Windows into Time. I imagine we can peer through powerful currents of energy to see into the beginning of things.
I often like to work on several series at a time. Currently I am continuing work on Windows into Time, of which Sedimentary 3 and 4 are part. Each of these 12″ x 12” pieces uses commercial and my own hand dyed and painted fabric, stitched by hand and machine, and stretched over canvas. I imagine we can look back into the depths of time and see the features of the earth at their beginnings. The Sedimentary pieces speak to my love for and fascination with rocks, and strata, and striations. You can see more of this series in the current (Winter) edition of Art Quilt Studio Magazine.
The second series I am still working on, The Darkness Surrounds Us, was inspired by a brilliant and mordantly funny poem by Robert Creeley, “I know a man.” In it, the poet asks, “. . .the darkness surrounds us. What can we do about it. . . ?” We can sing, hold hands, create art.”
Clairan Ferrono, Fiber Art, http://fabric8tions.net/
And on her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/clairan.ferrono/photos/
I met Mary Jo when I first came to Chicago in 1979. I went to work at Vogue Fabric in Evanston, perhaps the best fabric education available at the time. Part of that was getting to see the stream of astonishing fabric people, artists, designers,quilters, seamstresses and creative souls. Mary Jo was one of the best of those. I’ve watched her art bloom into a full color riot. Here’s what she says about her own work.
“As an artist working with color in fabric, paper and threads, my goal is a vibrant, animated and vigorous art wall quilt. My medium challenges me to translate into a nonverbal art quilt the power of my soul. I use bold colors, shapes and dimensions using artist dyed and commercial over-dyed fabrics and scraps from various places including sari and upholstery shops, thrift stores and used garments.
I work from an idea, a photo, a painting or a scene that captures my imagination and creates a mental image to represent some aspect of the inspiring theme. I lay out all the fabrics that may or may not work with the theme; e.g., green for the fields or maybe red for the fields. The goal of each piece is an abstraction so colors need not represent reality. Freeform organic images are randomly cut and grouped on the design board until they begin to express the mood I am seeking. I continue to work intuitively allowing each piece to determine its own path and direction. Each wall quilt has at least three layers; the pieced top that is layered with many pieces, the batting which gives the quilt shape, direction and contours when embroidered and quilted; the backing which completes the art quilt. My work is being influenced by traveling, distressed buildings and barns that have weathered the times, and destruction wrought by wars.”
Her work bursts with wild lunatic energy. Mary Jo is a maniac riding a color wave. And I love it.
You’ll find Mary Jo’s work on her site at http://www.maryjobowers.com/
Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/maryjo.bowers.3?fref=ts
Pictures at Pinterest
I met I met Vivi at least 15 years ago. At the time she was running the best fiber art gallery around. A gallery is it’s own creation, a place where art shines. And that is an important part. But often people are more involved with that space than they are with art.
Vivi isn’t one of those. I’ve watched her create safe spaces for children, exhibition places for artists ( bigger children), grace and love for the people in her life, and turn around and do the most amazing pottery/ sculpture. She is in constant movement and definition.
I’m a color person. I dream in color. I think in color. But Vivi’s vital textures in plain porcelain open doors in my head I didn’t know where there.
“After over 10 years of clay, I still boil down to my love of surface design and fiber. My current projects endeavor to combine porcelain, stoneware and fiber in new and wonderful ways. I currently designing a new jewelry line , scheduled to appear on Etsy in the new year.
The photo of Seedpod is felted wool fiber and porcelain.
Anemone is porcelain, hand built. I’m considering a revisit to this only with a porcelain body and fiber tentacles.
This “…is my potter’s mark. I started signing my name as VIVI before we lost Leo because that is what he always called me and I liked it. Oddly enough the VIVI done like a roman numeral can be read as a 66, this is interesting because Leo was born in 66, I was 6 years old and he was murdered New Year’s Day 06.
…. Quite a few people don’t know what a flower frog is. I didn’t either when I was younger and when asked by my mother to get her a flower frog whilst she was arranging flowers, my reaction was “what frog?”, I thought we had frogs as in amphibians in the laundry room, lol.
I met Monique at Glacier Quilts in Kalispell. Glacier Quilts is perhaps my most favorite store. It caters to people’s every pleasures. Huge pile of fabric, machines waiting for people to use, fabulous teachers, babies to borrow, a place to drop off babies, and a coffee run when needed. It even has a sporting shop just outside where you can check your significant other. You can almost move in.
And it has, among the other amazing staff, Monique.
Monique is constantly in creative motion. She studied costuming and theater at some point. But you get the feeling there are at least 6 quilts going on in her head, all at once.
Her work is as wild as where she lives. She’s in the valley nestled between the mountains and all the creatures seem to know her by name and come visit. Her work teams with them.
Monique makes bed quilts as well. But of course, I love her wild embroidery best!
Here’s what she says about herself.
“I was born in the Flathead Valley and raised on the farm where my grandfather grew up. Just as my father took up the plow from his father, I learned to love and work with fabric from my mother. An avid quilter and teacher, mom’s works lit my creative fire, and much of what I’ve learned has come from our playing and experimenting together.I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural beauty around us; the constantly-changing seasons, and the majestic (and sometimes humorous) animals that wander by daily.”
It’s no secret I love aprons! It was one of my mother’s few kitchen sensibilities. She would have died rather than sew on a button, but she found a woman who made new aprons for us twice a year. None of those silly half aprons either. If you’re short, you know that the top half of you is the target area whether you’re eating a salad or mixing a cake. They were full length and had huge pockets. When I learned to sew I made them for us. But the first fabric I remember picking out was for aprons.
But what about the rest? Since I have a garden, a studio and a house I’ve noticed messes are a 360 degree situations. They just don’t happen in front. I’ve sat in my fair number of mud puddles and dye muddles. What you need is a full coverage apron.
Enter my favorite apron pattern! This came out around ten years ago. It’s so much nicer that they keep the good patterns available nowadays. This dolly covers the full fundament. I still make them several times a year and wear them into the ground.
But I have a secret! I use two special tricks to make this apron really slick and easy to make. First off, I use a rotary cutter, mat and bias tube to whip out miles of bias tape in a flash. Bias is always the most beautiful finish for aprons and quilts, but hand cut bias takes forever. Commercial bias doesn’t match, and is made of miserable poly cotton prints. And it’s expensive. Your own bias can be specially chosen for your project, and with this method is very fast and easy.
Secondly, I use a serger and an edging foot to apply it. There’s not a hand stitch in it. Hand is a four letter word. I don’t do hand sewing.
This class is not just about aprons. You’ll learn the quickest method for making bias and the slickest method applying it. And a new use for sergers that will turn your head around. And f you’re new to sergers, here’s a way to try them out that’s quick, easy and has instant help for you.
I consider sergers the safest machines in my studio. I often start kids out sewing with them because of that. The needles are safely tucked where little fingers don’t go, and they have instant success with them. So will you. Once you start serging, you won’t want to stop.
Saturday, October 27th. 219-663-6973
Don’t have a serger? Don’t want to have to pack up your machine for class? Spyceware has Bernina’s in the classroom, both sergers and sewing machines so you don’t need to pack up your machine and carry it around. Or worry about knowing sergers. We’ll help you through. It’s a stress free class.
Spyceware Sewing Center is located at 116 North Main Street in Crown Point, Indiana, just over the Illinois border.
Come and join us! Call today to reserve your place. You’ll have a new apron for the holidays and two great new skills in making and applying bias.
When I met Lyn, she was an already lionized mosaic artist. Her work was inventive, wild and full of nature and imagination. She was an established feature on the craft circuit in the pacific northwest.
Here’s what she has to say about the translation between mosaic and fiber.
“I have an innate need to create, and in doing so I hope to inspire and delight the senses of the viewer. I have tried many art mediums to do this but I always come back to fabric and threads. I also have a love and fascination with puzzles, which also shows, in my mosaics and my quilts. Because after all they are both like putting a puzzle together, except I can cut the pieces to fit!!!
This is one of my mosaic pieces, “Spilt Fruit”, and you can see the influence of quilting in this one in a very obvious way! But you can also see how much mosaicing is like quilting. You have a bunch of small pieces that you want to make a picture with. The difference is in the medium only. Both are cut to size and attached where they belong.
The moment I saw Ellen Anne Eddy’s work I knew that her use of thread was just the venue I had been looking for. After a couple of workshops with her, I begin to develop my own style and I am still working on it!
I have done a lot of appliqué quilting and once I started adding the thread to bring out the designs of each piece, they came to life. Nature is what I like to depict in my pieces and with the aid of my camera I have been able to do this.”
I am so awed by Lyn’s work, both mosaic and thread. It’s a celebration of personal vision mingled well with hard won skill and a dash of serious talent.
You’ll find more of her work on her blog at allthingsthreaded.blogspot.com.
So many of us have astonishing stashes. My favorite stash story is about a woman who’s husband just built her a sewing room . He said” I bet you have as much as $100 worth of fabric.” God bless the ignorant. And long live her stash.
So we keep fabric we haven’t used. Sometimes for quite some while. I have a 20 year old piece of black wool myself. I just felted it. I just got a felting machine this year. And I’m delighted I still have it.
So it was with equal delight I saw that Tina Rathbone had blogged on a piece of fabric she dug out that we shopped for over 10 years ago. Tina is a California lunatic who quilts brilliantly, water colors beautifully, and bird watches obsessionally.
It couldn’t have happened if she hadn’t aged her fabric.
I think the things we love change much more slowly than the technology and abilities that come and go through the sewing world. If you love big bugs and fish, it’s unlikely (and I know this from experience) to completely go away unless you’ve had a truly unfortunate vacation experience.
The other truth is that fabric is ephemeral. You often really only see it once. Some companies reproduce the same designs over and over. But it’s not the normal practice. Often you have just one chance to buy that silly thing. I still am grieving the robots over Manhattan fabric I gave to someone. I’ve never seen it since and it was fabulous!
Of course we all cull fabric.There’s never room enough and time. And it’s a great thing to give someone a stack of new possibilities. Although I had one dear friend who would announce the fabric she was bringing over to me with the word, “Incoming!” And it was sort of like that. Fabric Explosion!
So age your fabric well. If you love it, you’ll still love it. Toss what you don’t. Keep what you adore. And wait for the moment where it’s right.
You’ll find Tina’s delightful process on pattern making on her blog at Artelicious.blogspot.com
You’ll find amazing fabric everywhere. But most especially, in your stash! It’s material wealth!
One of the things about teaching quilting that is always true is that students don’t stay students. You turn around and they’re wildly accomplished quilters doing work that makes your heart flutter. Sometimes that happens right in class. Sometimes they’re already there when they arrive. Quilting isn’t exactly hierarchical. We quickly learn just how much other people know.
I met Roberta in a class in Missouri, years ago. She was a student there, but well onto the mastery of her own work.She also produces some of the loveliest images of the Missouri Ozarks in thread.
“Coon” is one of her pieces I chose for my Beautiful Beast lecture. We fight wars with raccoons where I live, and I’ve had to evict them from the studio several times. But her thread work makes this little thief appealing enough to want him in my garden.
“Return to Eden ” features lovely caladiums and hostas.
“After searching for a good background, I came upon my last piece of fabric that I bought from Ellen Anne Eddy six years ago. And it was perfect. Then I looked back through my gallery of quilts and realized my favorite work had been done with her fabrics as background. So I am now watching daily for a new box containing many yards of her fabric. I feel like a kid waiting for her first bicycle!”
I just sent Roberta a huge box of handdyed fabric for her collection. Who knows what she’ll make next. If we’re lucky she’ll show us. She’s a quiet lunatic on the fringe for sure.
“I live in southwest Missouri, work and play with fabric and thread, read lots of books, laugh a lot, cry a little, and raise my blood pressure by reading the opinion section of the newspaper.”
Her work is available for sale at the Waverly House Gallery
My mother always knew I’d come to no good. Here I am feeding people’s addictions. Who knew we’d grow up to be fabric junkies?
Do you want a stash of hand-dyed Ellen Anne Eddy fabric? Ask Ellen to send you a box of fabric to pick through.
I met Pat Jones at the Mountain Laurel Guild in Georgia. The whole guild was full of wild gardeners and astonishing fiber artists. Pat fits right in. She lives in a cabin up the mountain where birds sing to her right off her porch, looking down the gorge. It’s another world.
Pat tells me I gave her permission in my first book to try things. And she has. She’s this quiet and very proper southern gal doing wonderfully wild things with her thread and fabric.
She took my flower class, and being a master gardener herself, she build one incredible flower garden.
Here’s what she had to say about it.
This is a guild I’ve visited before. There’s nothing nicer than coming back to a guild you’ve taught at. Firstly, they’ve told you they like you by asking you back. I don’t know a nicer compliment for a teacher. But secondly you get to see the wonderful ways they’ve grown.
This is an arty guild with a lot of passion for new ideas. So you can only imagine. And they didn’t disappoint me.
They did three classes .Guilding the Lily is a class where we take a great print and embellish it with beautiful straight stitch thread work.
Bobbin Work Flowers is a little class where we make bobbin work applique flowers with lovely thick threads.
Here’s some of the fabulous things they did!
Heaven’s knows what they’ll do next. I can barely wait to see!
If you had a teacher you loved in class, consider more classes or retreats with them down the road. As they say you can’t walk into the same river because the river has changed and so have you. But the new things you’ve learned and that they’ve learned help you reach a whole different level. And your new people in the guild will be thrilled with their new skills too. And isn’t that what class is all about?
You’ll find the Ilini County Stitchers at their web site at http://illinicountrystitchers.com/
The Illini Country Stitchers hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Thursday of each month except in November (second and third Thursday) and December (second Thursday only) at 7 PM at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, 905 S. Russell St., Champaign, IL. Visitors and Guests are always welcome. What a fabulous heartland guild!
In my travels, I got to stay with my dear friend Kathy Semone in Maryland. I was teaching at The Bears Paw in Baltimore. Kathy and I have been friends for almost 20 years when she came into my class and wanted to do gargoyles. It was before the gargoyle cliche hit. I loved her immediately. She is one of the original Lunatic Fringe.
One of the many gifts Kathy has given me is the friendship of her dogs. I was not raised with dogs and I really didn’t have doggie friends. No. I don’t mean friends that have dogs. I mean friends that are dogs. One is not the other. But she had a darling Havanise named Bobbin who would stand on his back legs and clap for you. What’s not to like? Of course I adored him.
So when we were talking about my visit, she said I needed to know about her new dog Bandit. Unlike all of her dogs, Bandit has lived his whole life on his looks. He’s a retired show dog. He acts a bit like a male version of a rock star with a hangover looking for his latest drug of choice. Lots of barking and displays with the occasional nip for emphasis. He really only knows how to behave in a show circle or at the groomers. And he hates crates.
I was a bit daunted. I did what I do whenever I’m really nervous. I went and found a book.
Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog was a book already in my library. But I went to it for information. If you yawn and look the other way, you’re saying, “Oh for heaven’s sake, calm down. It’s not a threat.”
We did that a lot. I watched Bandit nip at several folk during my visit. But he eventually fell asleep on my feet.
All life is a tutorial. I came home to my bully neighbors. My heavens! Bark bark bark bark bark. I do wish it was the dogs and not them. This time they insisted on their rights to powerwash their house. Of course they got the building inspector involved. For the day, they had three carloads of visitors to whom they gave tours of my yard, they just power washed the side of the house on my side, and they squashed hostas with abandon. I called the police for the second time when they tried to scream a friend of mine off the property. They called the building inspector to whine three times before the day was over. Bark bark bark bark bark.
It’s a really hard thing to yawn and look the other way. I didn’t manage it, quite.
What makes a bully? I’ve suffered from them my whole life long and I do think that there needs to be a transformational act. Are they like Bandit, scared and unable to respond in any other way? What would they do if I yawned? If everyone yawned and what they wanted didn’t work? I can’t say I know but I can’t help but think there’s something there.
Bark bark bark bark! Oh calm down.
BEAR’S PAW FABRICS
8812 Orchard Tree Lane
Towson, MD 21286
It’s a delightful shop, full of all kinds of fabrics, threads and great ideas.
You’ll find bullies everywhere. Practice your yawning.
I just got done teaching several classes in Maryland. I taught Dragonfly Sky to the Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild in Rockville.
I love teaching the Dragonfly Sky class because it’s full of new good open doors for people. We do bobbin work and we do Angelina Moons.
Angelina has been around for a while now. But it’s still the darling of many of us contemporary girls because it’s definitely Bling Bling! It’s made of hide of the Nauga (Lurex, I believe). It looks like cotton candy but it melts under your iron into the shiniest most wonderful whirl of iridescent ice in around 24 colors. How good is that? I love it for the natural things that are ultimate shine in themselves. It makes the world’s best moons, suns, dragonfly wings, waters, ice, and stuff of dreams ever.
But one of the most wonderful things about a class like this, is watching the very many different things people do with the same patterns and ideas. Look at the amazing moons they made!
Aren’t these women brilliant? It’s always great fun to see them work together and to feel the creative energy they bring into class.
You’ll find Angelina Fiber at Textura Trading and hopefully at your local quilt store. Remember that it’s always best to buy things at the store that brings things to you. Your little quilt store is a treasure that supports you and deserves your support.
I put in my Angelina Moon Tutorial on top in case you must go off and make moons immediately. I know the feeling. You’ll find more tutorials on my site.
More instructions and patterns for moons are in my booklet for class, Dragonfly Sky.
Now go out and do something SHINY!
Law, Like Love
Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day…..
Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Law is Good morning and Good night….
If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,
No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyvay:
Like love I say.
Like love we don’t know where or why,
Like love we can’t compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.
I’ m still a product of the 60s. Not the late wild sixties where people burned their bras and burned through their ethics trying to find quivering truth with drugs and sex, although that had it’s moments. I’m a product of Miss Manors.
Why? Truth is not always a kindly house guest. So much truth is subjective. The fact that it’s true in your life does not make it of necessity true in mine.Kindness and consideration can stay longer than three days in my space. Brutal honesty, not so much. Opinion, not really at all.
This poem by Auden is one of my all time favorites. What is the law? What is appropriate? Who holds the keys? Who decides what is and is not acceptable? And why?
We seem to be more divided lately than ever. The separations are political, rude and come to name calling pretty fast in this campaign season. I normally am oblivious. None of that makes dragonflies. But I have to say I’m as frightened with the future as anyone else. And it has political overtones.
I’m a firm believer in multiple view points. I appreciate the differences, because it allows for a correction point when we really are off track. If I have the wrong answer, maybe you have a better one. As long as all of that is functioning, it’s harder to do something that’s deadly extreme. As long as the process is allowing other voices, then no one get’s ignored. But where do we post those? Where to we get to say?
In this day of public media, it’s possible to say it almost anywhere. But there are those who haven’t noticed that they are not just in their living room when they’re on their computer. What we say on the computer is about as public as Madison Square Garden and 500 times as lasting.
Lately I’ve had a run of experiences where people wanted to use either my facebook wall or blog for their viewpoint. In each case it was an alternative view I really don’t hold. Yet there it was, associated with me because it was in my space. And I wonder what Ms. Manners would make of that.
I had one woman tell me in 7 separate emails that if I asked her opinion through a group email, I was honor bound to publish it on my blog. It was three thousand miles away from my own thoughts on the matter, and pointed negatively at someone else who had written in. She had a blog of her own. I checked. It hadn’t been entered in for over 6 months. By the time the shouting stopped she’d hit the point of name calling. I had another woman post three negative comments on a facebook post. I unfriended her, because I think it’s inevitable I will offend her. Probably as we speak.
We view social media as a leisure media. But it isn’t strictly. For any one in business it is the face of their business. It has their name, their brand, right on the top corner. I get dozens of emails a day telling me how I can maximize facebook, my blog, my pininterest, myspace and my face, all on those social media. It is a business presence.
So at the risk of being digitally egged, just this once I’m going to ask. Are you obliged to post negative comments on your site? With your name and picture on it? Do you have an obligation to post stuff you really disagree with? These posts form people’s images and ideas about you. The comments are there as loudly as whatever you originally said. I am all for freedom of speech. I just think that if it’s your voice, and your opinion, your face should be on top the the article.
It’s not like we change people’s minds with these comments. I’ve found that at a certain point, we simply state where we are and they state where they are. Instead it’s a cementing of differences. I just object to it being on a site or space that’s mine. I wouldn’t have posted or printed my original statement if I didn’t care about it. And I would never have gone on their site to post a cheap shot against their viewpoint. I don’t think Ms. Manners would approve.
I will post people’s notes on this. But I’ll only give you one shot each. And after that, I’m claiming my sites as my own.
So I’m back to Auden. In a world where right and wrong are at best under review, what is wrong with personal space? Much of what we disagree with is fine, as long as it’s not in our spot, defining us. So, Ms. Manners, what do we do? “Like love I say.” Whatever happened to live and let live?
Of course, perhaps the old saw that you don’t discuss politics or religion needs to come back into vogue. This desire to wash it all in public is, in my own case, perhaps a nervous tick.
I’m really not a hoarder. I keep saying that the way alcoholics say they aren’t alcoholic. I just have trouble getting things to the trash. It doesn’t help that the trash collectors here have some very special rules about what they will and won’t pick up. Mostly it seems that they are in the business of limiting what they will haul off. Of course if you pay them extra……. all that seems to help.
They tell me I garden the way I keep house, the way I quilt. Everything kind of goes everywhere. And spills over. So within that morass I try to get things out to the trash in a timely enough fashion and hope to find the floor any day now.
But it’s not entirely past reason. Sometimes we just keep things for people until we know they need them.
I just watched some friends clean out their mother’s home. I wasn’t there at the storage unit. But I watched them pick through what Leonard Cohen called “the garbage and the flowers”. There was a lot of both.
Since this was also my friend and my other mother she had things I remembered too. And a copy of a book I’d written and lost in a computer crash. And another small book of poetry of mine a friend put together for me after they explained to me that you just can’t do poetry in a quilt book.
Several years ago, I lost a magazine portfolio. I’ve written around 50 articles over the years, about quilts and quilting. It was at a gallery. Somehow it went under a counter and then couldn’t be found, and then the gallery suddenly closed. I was lucky I didn’t have work there that could have been lost as well. But for many of those articles, those were my only copies.
Several weeks ago, Tina Rathbone wrote me a note that she was cleaning out a friend’s stuff and found an article in American Quilter about me. It was from 1992. Point of fact, it was the first article I’d written. It’s one of the ones I’d lost. She sent me a pdf of it. Some gifts are kind past glory. Thank you!
I’m going to keep my portfolio online at this point. Where moths and corruption aren’t happening. I’m going through my own garbage and flowers before someone else has to do it for me. And I’m grateful for both. I’m going to pass on the stuff that belongs to someone else in case they lost it too.
Should you find an old magazine with an article of mine, let me know. I’m on the hunt.
I love technology. I hate technology. I feel like the red queen and though I can’t possibly run fast enough, or at all, I must try.
Pat Winter is the Dye Cup Fairy. When I’m done dyeing fabric, I always have a bit of left over dye in the cups. Not so much that you could dye yards and yards of fabric. But ribbon? Yes! So Pat comes by and picks up the dye cups. I go for long periods of time when I don’t see the Dye Cup Fairy but you always know she’s been there. There’s a note, missing dye cups, and if you’re lucky, new plants in your garden or an Icy waiting for you. If you don’t know Pat, she’s perhaps the most inventive and amazing crazy quilter in the world.
Several years ago, I bought what I call a boob camera. Not because it’s for those of us who are a bit behind. No. It fits in my bra. Now this is important because if you don’t have a camera with you you can’t take the picture. I know you’re supposed to be able to do this with a phone.
Please! I can only master one plastic box at a time.
I love my boob camera. Simple, no cap to lose. Takes a lot of pictures before it declares itself dead. Do I know what all the settings are? Don’t be silly!
So one day I walked into my studio and found the Dye Cup Fairy. And being the Fairy of Large and Incomprehensible Messes, we played together. With the boob camera and paint sticks.
Pat is much better with a camera than I. We both looked at the sport setting and said Sure! Why Not! You press the button down and it takes picture after picture after picture after picture. Well, you get the idea. She pointed and shot. I just played.
We got 836 pictures. What do you do with 836 pictures? Even after you take out the ones with blurry hands, more is definitively less there really is a too much. Who’d have believed that?We’re not going to use that setting again.
I hope you have a Dye Cup Fairy who takes, gives and shares wonderful things with you!
I hope you play with your friends, even when the technology is incomprehensible!
I hope all your messes bring you wonder and joy!
You’ll find Pat Winter’s blog at Pat Winter Gatherings. She also does a fabulous crazy quilt magazine that will launch you into a brand new crazy quilting world.
You’ll find more about paint sticks on older posts of mine at
You’ll find my camera on Amazon.com. There are lots newer ones, but none better. And it fits just fine in a DD cup.
I love birthdays! Celebrating birthdays is how we say, “I’m glad you’re here! So I was particularly delighted when a friend asked me to make a special quilt for her sister on a special birthday.
Thalia Johnson had come to the studio to visit before. She called me to ask if there was a great tu’rtle quilt for her sister’s birthday. I said, “Not at this moment, but there could be.We sat down with some great reference pictures. Have you used Teamviewer before? It’s a way to share what’s on your screen with someone else. It’s definitely cool. It allows you to look at another person’s computer miles away,
We decided on a water slider turtle, rather than a tortis or a box turtle. She loves orchids and her sister gave me pictures of her collection. It made a perfect lady’s slipper.
I went to work.
I embroidered the turtle.
Here’s Paige with her quilt.
Commissions are an honor. They’re a badge of trust. They also scare me a little. I’m always terrified of letting someone down in some way. But when they please someone this much, I feel privileged to have been asked.
I had an odd childhood. Most of it was after my thirties, so I’m still quite young, actually. Margaret Eddy, my birth mother was a school teacher who really didn’t know what you did with children if you didn’t have a desk between them and you. We figured that out before she and I came to major blows. I was an only child so she had no earlier practice. So my childhood with my mother consisted of lessons. Piano lessons. Poetry readings. Diagramming sentences. Homework. Odd histories. Writing. Art history. Musicals. Singing music from musicals. And a tendency to try to make money out of the very odd crafts I insisted on doing. She managed practicalities fairly well. I was fed and washed as cleanly as any child with a passion for mud pies can be.
But my other mother taught me the important things.
No, I wasn’t adopted. But I had a neighbor lady who took me in.
Mary was the original lunatic fringe.It was like visiting OZ. In Mary’s house, people made messes. Out of art. They were late. They didn’t answer phones. Oddly enough they also didn’t care about food, because no one really cooked. I spent days tucked in making doll clothes, embroidering pillow cases, melting crayons, and making my real mother insane. It was perfect. Mary even had a cat who attacked my mother through the ferns when Margaret came to get me. It was wonderful!
An odd thing happened. As an adult, I know how adults just take their children’s friends wherever they’re going. But I had a taste for crafts and antiques her children didn’t share. We bonded over a million craft projects and piles of fabric. Somewhere she became more than my friend’s mom, and more than a neighbor. Words fail me. Mother comes close. Friend comes closer, but an adult’s friendship with a child is a different friendship. If I wanted mothering, God knows she was a much better at it than my mother. She was also my champion. She fought my mother for crucial things for me: art lessons, my first cat, space to create. Her fights with Margaret always made me want to head under the couch. She took them on clear eyed and gladly, and Margaret never had a chance. She made my childhood sane.
Why did she do that? I can only guess. She knew it was needful. And a woman who knows that the phone doesn’t need to be answered, also knows what really does.
Mary was my friend past my childhood, all my life. I dedicated each of my books to her, for, in truth, they couldn’t have happened without her. My art wouldn’t have happened without her. Was she my friend? My mother? Words fail us often and they fail us here. I only know she lit my corner of the world and coaxed me out.
Mary Annis passed away on May 8th. For her, I’m sure it’s a graduation, a celebration, a feast of joy to be home. We’ll celebrate her life at a memorial this coming Saturday. I intend to celebrate her life every day, as I live surrounded by her love, working on the art she only understood, with odd children running in and out my door.
You’ll find Mary Annis’s tribute by her daughter Barbara Gail Simons here. There are notes from Betsy and Chuck, her other surviving children, as well.
You’ll find a loving blog of Mary’s life in Indianapolis written by her daughter Betsy Fladung here.
I wrote another blog about Mary called The Mentor Waltz. I hope you find other mothers everywhere, because, God knows, we need them.
All of life is an art form. I’ve always maintained that how we live our lives, structure our stories, organize or not organize our space is in it’s own way a creative act. Sometimes it features beauty, or courage, or growth. Sometimes it’s a rare moment of survival in the midst of craziness. It is, however a creative act in response to the world we live in.
Several weeks ago, my neighbor Liam told me he wanted to make a volcano. Not a problem. Got a soda bottle, vinegar and some baking soda. Mix and explode. It was a lovely afternoon.
Yesterday, I recreated the LaBrea Tar Pits pit in my kitchen. Honest to God. I can barely wait to show Liam.
We wash dishes here every six weeks or when we run out of forks, whichever happens first.This time I decided I’d have a clean kitchen for my birthday which was yesterday. At least it’s a novelty
I had a very slow drain and thought it was risky to run the dish hider ( I haven’t noticed that it washes dishes. But it’s very good at hiding them.) I knew it was a dicy situation, so I went and looked up drain cleaning on the internet. As always, every product had at least one one star review and five five star reviews. Thus equipped, I went over to the hardware store and picked up a product I will not name. It was buffered sulfuric acid. Should cut through anything. Right?
Not exactly. Home again and we put it down the sink. Looked good. Made significant noises. ( I always find those encouraging). I waited 15 minutes and ran cold water. Out of the depth black bubbly goo started to rise. And take over one side of the sink and then the other. I went to the living room and started to pray for a faith healing experience. That didn’t happen. Two hours later I had everything from the black lagoon in the kitchen sink except, thank God, the creature.
Then I heard the drip. I looked down to see a streak of black goo on the pipe. Ran to get a bucket from the studio. Ran some more cold water to dilute it.
This situation is what we call a busted comode. Full of something and going no where. When I though again about plunging and plungers, I remembered that we could have sulfuric acid and black goo everywhere.
Back to Liam’s volcano. I got the box of baking soda and started to pour it in. Black bubbles rushed up one side of the sink. The other side burbled in response. An odd black greasy crust formed on the surface, broken temporarily by more bubble action. It went on all night.Blump. Burbble burbble, blump,plip,plip plip. Grirrrirrrgle. A symphony in black tarry substances. More baking soda in the other side. More blurble sounds. It was the symphony of the swamp.
I plunged at 10:30. At 3 am. More burbling noises but no other changes. The swamp is still extant and bubbling at nine am.
Why is this art? It’s too funny to be anything else at this point. But in the middle of this, when I called a friend to ask what to do about it, she said” Have you seen the moon?” No, it wasn’t a non-sequetur. If you’re going to have the worst plumbing night of your life you might as well have the best moon too. And I bet there was a spectacular moon over the tar pits as the dinosaurs went down. You’ve got to enjoy what’s there. And it’s a new form of surface design. But you might not want to try this at home.
So I hope you have a super moon to light your plumbing disasters. I’m also hoping the plumber works on Sunday.
You’ll find more information about the super moon at
Update: The plumber doesn’t work on Sunday. And he thinks it’s the whole drainage system. Anyone wanting to buy a quilt today, contact me and we’ll have a half off sale.
Some while back, Dale Ann Potter just showed off this very cool online toy from Big Labs called a Color Generator.
This is so much better. Big Huge Labs has this color generator that can be plugged right into Photoshop. How cool is that?
They also have a mosaic tool, a puzzle tool, a badge tool, and a way to make magazine covers, calendars and endless other publications. Wow said backwards.
Dale has her excellent work on her site, but she also is superb at finding neat and cool things the rest of us should know about and maybe don’t. Her site is at http://daleannepotter.com where you’ll also find her blog.
Jacquie is a quilter’s quilter. Her quilt work is warm and scrappy and fun. But on top of that she does delightful verse that speaks to the quilter in us all. She reminds me of Cathy Miller’s insights into the quilt world, but with a voice all her own.
Her new book, Quiltverse, is a collection of poems that sound like every quilter I know. She has an ear for what we all say and a heart to say it well. I particularly liked her poem about the sewing machine.
The sewing machine is a wondrous thing
That I’ve never quite figured out:
The needle goes up and down, the bobbin goes round
And a nice neat stitch comes out.
For more years than I’ll tell I’ve used my machine
And sewn a mile or three,
But I still don’t understand how the stitches are formed.
Do you? Or is it just me?
and this is really the answer to all the unanswerable questions
QUESTIONS— NO ANSWERS!
How long did it take to make that quilt?
(How long is a piece of string?)
How much does that quilt cost?
(How much is a bird on the wing?)
What price on creative dreaming?
What value to place on skill?
Is the time spent drudgery or fun?
Does it give the viewer a thrill?
Is it repeatable or one of a kind?
Would one WANT to make it again?
Trying to answer questions like these
Will sure strain a quilter’s brain!
Jacquie teamed up with Ann Fahl in 2011 to do a delightful book inspired by Ann’s cat quilts called A Black and White Tale. Her poems shine against Ann’s engaging images of Oreo the family cat.
I really love this new world where self publishing makes it possible for all kinds of people to showcase and document their work. It’s a wonderful thing!
You’ll find Jacquie’s new ebook, Quiltverse, volume one, on Smashwords.
You’ll find her blog at http://quiltmuse.blogspot.com
or on Amazon at www. amazon.com
I’ve loved the blog community for it’s warmth and kindness. It’s a place where we are ourselves and where we support each other. Lately I’ve noticed a new trend in blog comments.I’ve had several blog comments that were personal, critical and edgy. Though I’ve answered them personally, I chose not to post them. I wouldn’t have posted them no matter who they had been directed at. I don’t care to support or encourage a world of edgy critical assault. It feels like a cheap shot for attention. Like talk radio, the more outrageous the comment, the more attention it draws.
I identify myself with quilters for a reason. I like quilters. Many of them are great artists. But to the main, they’re spectacular people.They’re a community of women who support each other, mostly. I have a deep appreciation for their attitudes, morals and stances. Most of them are the definition of decency.
I don’t view myself as a political or argumentative person. Mostly I see myself as here to share my journey and help with yours. I’m perfectly capable of errors and unfortunately human. If I am in error, I’ll do my best to correct it. If that’s the case, I do want to know.
But there’s something about a really flaming comment from someone you don’t know, who has decided that your statement is too light weight, just plain wrong or whatever. If you find yourself wishing to make statements like that, I suggest you think about how much fun that would be to say to that person’s face.Where you can deal with the pain/anger/ embarrassment/ or shame you just engendered. If it loses some of it’s glee for you at that point, you might not want to say it.
If you know more than I, please enlighten us on your blog. Good for you! If you find I’ve harmed your feelings or your reputation (never my intention, no matter what) I’ll do anything I can to rectify that. If you just need someone to shoot at, I’m not it. It’s tiresome and I’m not playing.
I really think that attack mode is about sitting safely in a living room, away from how that comment feels for someone else. It feels private to you as you write it there. It’s about as private as Times Square. That person not only has to deal with that comment, but that comment in a public place. If it isn’t something you would like said to yourself in Times Square, you might want to think it over.
I remember years ago when someone I was involved with told me how fat, old and ugly I was. I was 25. When I objected, he said it was simply true and I should face the truth. I told him that it was his opinion. not a truth, and like a nose, everyone has one. I’m not a fan of quivering truth, particularly the kind that digs holes in people’s hearts. I’m a fan of the affirmation that may or may not be true, but leaves room for growth, courtesy and respect. I hold my blog as a space for that.
This world of instant information leaves us the ability to say anything. And everything. Perhaps it shouldn’t. There is such a thing as TMI.