rocket tracking


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Power Suits

Sharon McDonagh The Power of Halloween

Just for Halloween, some more power suits for you...I really liked Sharon McDonagh's "The Power of Halloween," partly because it mirrored a comment made by my sister-in-law a couple of years ago.  As a Cuban immigrant  in the late  1960s, she marveled that here in her new home you would dress up, go to a strangers house, knock on their door and they'd give you CANDY!  This was a novelty as they didn't celebrate Halloween in Cuba.

Sharon's Statement:
"My mixed-media work honors the power and magic of Halloween: I selected my packet because of the orange/black tie (all the while berating myself for being so literal). But I soon realized it was actually perfect, remembering how donning those carefully planned costumes instantly gave a small girl her first taste of power: to scare, to attract, to mystify, to amuse... Put on a costume and mask, and you suddenly possess the courage to walk out into the night, to approach even the scary neighbor‘s door, and request—no, demand—candy from grown-ups… Power suits indeed! Sharon McDonagh Alexandria, Virginia

Linda Morgan Victoran Power Suit

While not really Halloween, at least this Victorian Power Suit is wearing a mask.

"Power Suit - my first thoughts were of Queen Victoria and her spectacular dresses and jewels, and then I saw this amazing portrait of a Victorian woman with a stunning butterfly mask. I love the chaos of collage, the freedom to create layers of paper, cloth and found objects - every element chosen has a story to tell. After her morning French lesson Edwina known to friends and family as 'Birdie' put on her best butterfly mask and leisurely strolled through town to the portrait studio showing everyone what a beautiful, vibrant, charming, powerful woman she is"
. Linda Morgan,  Falls Church, Virginia
Dolores Fegan Power Tie Suit

This one, the Power Tie Suit, really should have been in last night's grouping, but frankly, it was getting long and late!  I marvel at the wonderful ties others had in the packages as mine was a tone on tone grey.

Power Tie Suit "This quilt was inspired by the idea of a power tie and superhero suits. The body is cut from the tie I received. It is to express boldness and strength. Raw edge applique with a zigzag stitch. The quilting is freemotion work. I limited my quilts to the given materials. Repurposed suit fabric for the backing, batting retrieved from recent packaging. "

Dolores Fegan Stanford, Kentucky

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Power Suit Challenge part 3: The Comic Book and traditional quilting influences

The theme "Power Suit " bought comic book heros to mind.   Here on the upper left you can see Superman's bright "S" is Diane Murtha's (Springfield, VA) "The Power from Within".  Here's her take:
When I asked my husband, what "power suit" meant to him. He said,  "that‘s easy, the ultimate power suit is Superman‘s suit." I then realized it wasn‘t what Clark Kent wore on the outside that made him who he was – it was what was inside and hidden from everyone that made him a great man. Real power comes from within and I am blessed to have grown up with three Supermen in my life: My Gandpa, a simple farmer from Iowa wore a suit for church on Sundays. My Dad, a loving father, wore a suit for work every day. And my husband, who wears the suit of a soldier.

Something which intrigued me about this show is that several of the artists used traditional quiltwork in addition to their arty quilty side.  Notice three of the four quilts shown here, the background of Diane's piece, Victoria Sheskey's "Fashion Wizard Twists Out Fashions from the Past" , and even the streak of lightening in Marilyn Knepp's  "Power Clashing" inspired by an episode of 30 Rock.

On the upper left is SallyAnn Morrison's (Springfield, VA) "Catwoman in a Grey Flannel Suit."

"The words ―Power Suit leads me to our Nation‘s Capital which is full of Power Suits. For example, Congress, business, and lobbyists who exercise or influence the legislative power granted by the Constitution. I thought it might be fun to have an iconic image like cat woman (a powerful figure) come to Washington, DC in a grey flannel suit, with her cat of nine tails in hand, to bring some order and sanity to the process of government. I am sure the outcome would be positive."

Here's another traditional pattern, the hexagon used in Lita Haven's "Power Suit a Global Outfit."

Cheryl Sleboda (Plainfield, IL) actually works in the comic book industry and likes things Japanese.

Cheryl chose a girl animae figure (Japanese superhero comics) in her power suit.  Cheryl used her power suit sample swatches on the back ground.  "These 'power suits' usually house a tough, pretty girl with rockets at the ready. My Power Suit girl is 'Armored and Ready' for any adventure!"

Cheryl is well known for "powering up" her quilts with lights.  You can see more of Cheryl's work here.
Delores Hamilton of Cary, NC did a wonderfully shaded version of  Wonder Woman for her "Glass Ceiling? What Glass Ceiling?"  She wrote: " In the mid-80s, the Wall Street Journal ran an article in which the term "glass ceiling" first appeared, referring to the invisible barriers that impeded the career advancement of women in the American workforce. Despite our adopting men's power suits, we made little progress. In thinking about who could have smashed through that glass, I thought immediately of the iconic Wonder Woman. KA-POW!"

Several others, including Patrice Smith's also took on the superhero theme.

Another note:  Go back up to the shot of Cheryl's piece with her exhibition neighbors.  The bottom right is Marilyn Owendorf's "Power in Any Suit."  It won the "It makes me Laugh" award....for details, go to Cyndi Souder's reveal of the winners and the show on her blog here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Power Suit Challenge part 2

A quick shot when no one was standing there....amazing!  Today, I'm going to share a few of my favorite quilts...and trust me, it is hard to pick favorites!

Because I know a lot of people don't like wordiness (but then, I suppose they aren't the ones following MY blog), I'm breaking this up.

One thing which amused me at this show was that one of the cousins said "I noticed that a lot of the ladies here were wearing quilted jackets.  Why don't you have one?"

Umm...because unlike this woman, I never have gotten around to making one.  I have patterns...I have ideas...but. . . .

A number of the quilts not surprisingly had comic book character themes, particularly ones showing women.  The one on the upper right here is Patrice Smith's "The Ultimate Power Suit".  Patrice is from Livonia, Michigan and had this to say about her quilt:
"Having just spent 40 years on the corporate world I struggled with the concept of power suits!At work, when I needed to solve a problem, I donned my Nancy Drew persona, but when the problem was solved I often hummed the Wonder Woman theme song!  So, the 1940s Wonder Woman image with her muscles and great outfit seemed to me to represent the ultimate power suit! Now if only I had one when I was working...hmmm....."

The little penguin quilt on the lower right is Alison Lang's "Pictures of Penguins in their Power Suits."  Alison is from Muskegon, Michigan and pointed out "If you want to see a being in a power suit, look to the birds. No other creature I know uses its suit (constructed of plumage) as much to impress, acquire, protect, and procreate than the birds. I chose penguins that wear suits that resemble human tuxedos. Humans wear tuxedos at gatherings of power such as displays of wealth, stance in society, political power, respect for accomplishment, ritual, and to honor passages (marriage.)"

As I mentioned earlier, a number of these quilts were done with memories of particular individuals.  This one is Lesly-Claire Greenberg's "Black Tie."

I like this one for the starkness and graphic quality.  While it is a very stable piece, your eye does continue to move around the piece.  It was extremely well made as well.

I also liked what Lesly-Claire had to say:  "When Dad wasn‘t on the road he went into the City, New York City, along with thousands of other men. Every morning freshly shaved and crisply pressed they lined the platform of the LIRR. Each night they returned a bit more rumpled. Dad sold Formal Wear. Those Tuxedos fed, clothed, sheltered us and sent us to college. That‘s a lot of power in a suit."

Lesly-Claire Greenberg's work may be seen here

Similar to Lesly Claires in commemorating an individual, this is Mary Ellen Simmons "Make Way for the Great."  I admire anyone who can use Ruth Power's method of drafting images into pieced works..I don't think I have it in me.

Mary Ellen is from Fairfax, Virginia and here's here statement about this piece: "
 This quilt, a portrait of a young man on the brink of his future in a new suit with his new car, is in memory of my father, a man who during his 95 years lived up to the caption under his senior picture in the high school year book, "Make way for the great!" When I heard of the power suit challenge, I immediately thought of the caption, the picture of him as a young man, and of his long life lived in kindness, love and devotion, service, with great generosity, patience, humor, and dignity. Hey Dad, 'you were the greatest!'"

Not surprisingly, many quilts had a political side.  I loved this one.  Like my quilt, Sherry Boram (Pendleton, Indiana) used mostly the fabrics from her packet, piecing the sky.  Her little men with their button heads are extremely well done and their fiery pants are exquisite!

Here's her statement: "The days of skepticism about the powerful are upon us. Too bad we continue to trust appearance as a mark of character when many in positions of power are dishonest -- why else would their pants be on fire? Money in some questionable form seems to be related to the powerful, though you have to look hard to find it. It‘s a part of this piece (completely respectable!) but can you spot it?"

Other than her men are standing on the, I couldn't.  But then, I may have just been obtuse that day.

Since it is getting close to the Day of the dead, I had to include Julie Schlueter's "Working Stiffs."  Her little working "stiffs" are all attired in their own little power suits...whether a power necklace or power tie.  Julie is from Orange, California and here's her statement:

"What fun to use suiting, shirting and silk tie fabric to make a quilt. I wanted to make my Power Suit entry a tribute to Dia de los Muertos. I enjoyed sewing pieces of suiting fabric randomly to make the background and used the shirting fabric and tie silk to "dress" the calacas. I have plenty of rusted fabric, so I used that to make the bones and finally used, for the hat, some fabric I bought years ago to someday make a Dia de los Muertos quilt. That someday is here and the quilt is made."

You can find more of Julie's work here. You may also recognize her as a Dinner at Eight artist.

If you are interested in seeing the whole collection of 108 quilts (I thought there were 107, but one more was added), you can order a $10 CD from Artistic Artifacts.  This CD will help cover the cost of shipping these pieces to the venues as well as back to their owners as there wasn't an entry fee for this challenge.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Power Suit Challenge Opening

It's hard to believe that almost a week ago was the opening for the Power Suit Challenge sponsored by Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia.  I flew up to go to the opening with my husband's cousin from Dayton and stayed with her sister in Alexandria.

The Power Suit Challenge  was hosted by Judy Gula and Cyndi Souder.  They were given many swatch books of high end suiting fabrics--wools, cashmere, shirtings.  They combined several swatch books with a tie and some buttons and challenged artists to take their fabrics and interpret the theme "Power Suit."

104 artists delivered 107 quilts which all fit the required 18" square format.

I wanted to show you the show...but it was PACKED!  As well it should be.  Most of the quilters were from the DC area, although several were from points as far away as California and Canada (Nova Scotia and Alberta).
I was pleased to get to meet (albeit briefly) Lisa Ellis, Cyndi and Judy (of course), LeeAnna Paylor, and Delores Hamilton.

The quilts are all quite fantastic and some were quite moving.  A number commemorated family members (fathers and grandfathers) who worked in the garment industry, or were businessmen or military people.  Others looked back on their own business careers as women, others took a spiritual bend, and others were looking at the political end.

All 107 quilts are on view in Judy's shop, Artistic Artifacts,  4750 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, Virginia now until November 23.  In addition, you can see the luscious things to add to your quilts and scrap booking or art assemblage projects.

See? I did leave you some things to look at and buy.
Here are some more quick grabs so you can get an idea.  I will be showing more over the next couple of days.   To see what inspired this grand concept, you can look at Cyndi's Blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Metastatic Cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I've been meaning to write about this for some time.  You see, October 13 was Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness day.  I wanted to digitize my wedding picture to start it...You see, October 13 is also my wedding anniversary.  We were married in 1990, and in February 1993 I had my daughter...then in November of 1993, I thought I felt a lump but didn't go to the doctor about it...because no on in my family had ever had breast cancer, and why should I? I was only 33.  In April, 1994, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a 3 cm tumor with one lymph node involved..which I think made it stage 2B.  It was much bigger than they thought.

Then in December 1997, they found micro-calcifications on the same breast which had the tumor.  I had a mastectomy and discovered in January 1998 that there was a metastases to my bones.

I often say that I had the word "remission" because that gives the uninitiated the concept that maybe you're cured.  It just means that there is no discernible disease.  Once you are diagnosed with mets, you're stage IV and no matter how "good" you look and how your blood tests come is considered a chronic disease and it can re-appear quite some time later.

Like 14 years later.  Like me.  My numbers are up and I'm hoping that the current Tamoxifen treatment will work.  I really have trouble thinking about going back on chemo...I'm still struggling with the nerve damage I got from this last course of treatment which lasted 9 months.  I'll probably never run again.  Heck, I'd take that if I could have more time.  I'd like to see Meg graduate...I'd love the thought of seeing her married....or started on her adult life.  While others are looking forward to playing with grandchildren, I'm just hoping to make it that far.

Its an odd thing.  Currently,  there's a trial being offered for people who have metatastic breast cancer at the Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  They are testing to see if modifying T-cells (the cells in your immune system which fight the baddies like cancer) and modifying T-Cells and using Interleuken-2 with it will work.  I'm tempted.  I'm really tempted.  But I'm also afraid.  I don't know if trying to pursue other treatments would work.  I'm not sure about traveling from Ohio to Providence, even though it is within 2 hours from where I used to live and I'm sure I could do it.  What if it didn't work????  They talk about biopsying your's in my bones...I suppose they could go after a biopsy on my shoulder, and maybe the sternum...but the others, the ribs and the vertebrae, well, they're a little tricky...and I'm not really sure how easy it will be to get to the spot on my pelvis...

Sitting and waiting in never-never-land....the word "remission" and "chronic" is beginning to sound least you're still alive.

I regret that most of my married life, my poor husband has had to live with someone fighting cancer.  I am saddened by the fact that my daughter doesn't remember a healthy who ran...and hiked and did a lot of really physical things.  I'm even more saddened by the fact that she has to be afraid that she's going to get cancer...or that I'm going to die while she's in college.

But I'm alive.  I will continue to fight.  I hope you will too.

What is the Army of Women?

A program of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women initiative is dedicated to recruiting one million women of all ages, ethnicities, with or without breast cancer, to sign up and participate in innovative breast cancer research studies.  After signing up at, members are then contacted via email blast about new studies seeking volunteers. They can either sign-up for the studies online, or if they do not qualify, they are encouraged to forward the information to a friend or family member. Every woman over 18 is welcome to participate, whether a breast cancer survivor or someone never affected.   There are currently more than 20 breast cancer studies seeking volunteers through the Army of Women.   The full list of open studies seeking volunteers like you are listed

For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another On the Road view

Ok..more like in the parking lot of the local hardware store....Sometimes I wonder what the vanity plates mean.  At first I thought perhaps this was a cinematic reference....but I remembered that it was "Rose Bud" in Citizen Kane, not "Red Bud."


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pasties for 250

My niece's wedding last week was a self catered affair.  She decided on serving pasties (paastees, not Paste-ees please), a meat "pie" common to areas which had mining, such as Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where Beth was born.  The story goes that the "cousin Jacks", miners from Cornwall, introduced them to the other mine workers.  Pastry crusts were filled with ground meat, onions, rutabagas (or turnips) carrots and potatos.  The mixture was baked then placed in the miner's tin lunch buckets.  They held the warmth well and were good to eat on lunch breaks down in the depths of the mines.  They are related to meat empanadas, but larger, if you're familiar with the Hispanic version.

Beth wasn't quite sure how many people would be coming, so what few family and friends of the bride were  in North Carolina last week went to work in a commercial kitchen rented by the hour to assemble and bake them.  The two characters in the first picture are Beth's father on the right, and a very close family friend on the left.  Here, in this picture (from the left) you see Wendy (another family friend), my sister Mary (the bride's mom), my sister-in-law Barb, and Tammara, the groom's sister.  Of course, I was working as well, but as I was directed to take the "behind the scenes shots" I was the one behind the camera.  Here, we are making the dough.

Beth and Mary are rolling crusts and filling them.  In the background is the groom's mom who arranged the use of the kitchen.  They sell specialty organic items from their farm and orchard and also home-churned ice cream at local festivals.  If you've been to the Asheville NC apple festival you may have had some of their wares...or currently at Georgia Mountain...they sell under "Old Ken Cole" and work very hard at what they do.
Beth is taking the new batch off the pans from the oven while Wendy and Tam prepare to put new ones in.  We froze them, and warmed them on Saturday before the wedding.  Tam's long suffering husband was the one in charge of warming and bringing them back to the wedding site in insulated containers.  He also made a wonderful bourbon mushroom gravy for them---much fancier than the usual gravy I've had on them in the U.P of Michigan.  They are usually served either plain, with gravy or ketchup. 

I must admit, I kept on thinking of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Benny the Bouncer"....I am afraid that most of the people here didn't get my reference...lets see if you can figure it out.  While we prepared for 250 people (even making 6 vegetarian versions), we only served about 100.  LOTS were left over and sadly...I didn't bring any back to Ohio with me.  

Do you wonder why I'm still tired yet? 

Oh yeah..I saved all the beard and hair nets so I could quilt with them....never miss an opportunity to gather unusual materials.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photos, Quilting, and Art

Recently, there's been quite a bit of talk on the Art Quilt list about art and quilting.  Several of the people talking about it were commenting that they didn't like "photo realism" in quilts.  They weren't talking about  quilts done in the manner of artist Chuck Close who does what is sometimes called "hyper realism) but they were talking about people who used photographs in their quilts.

Gloria Hansen and Wen Redmond, two artists who use photographs in their quilts, were accepted as artists and their quilts as art.  Others, no names named, were dismissed as making works which were merely "paint by number,"  People who took photographs and then did thread work and quilting with them turning them into art quilts.

The first person who came to mind was Barbara Barrick McKie.  Barbara lives in Lyme, Connecticut and it was her work which I first saw that included photographic images in her quilting...ages the early 1990s I think.  At the time, digital photography was in its babyhood and Barbara used photo transfers.  She now manipulates photographs through Photoshop and creates works....which are then quilted.

Pamela Allen is quick to point out that she wants to see the "hand of the artist."  To that end, she has her students freely cut out shapes in her classes to make the quilts...with scissors...not rotary cutters.  She feels that the scissors give the artist's imprint in much the same way as an artist's brush strokes are indiviualized.

To take a photograph, perhaps manipulate it in Photoshop and use it in a quilt, adding threads and dimension through quilting  seems to me to still be art.  The photograph is the work of the quilter, only unlike Alfred Stieglitz, we don't stop with the photograph.  The motion of the quilting adds texture, and just as the scissors or paintbrush are unique to each individual, I offer that the quilting is unique to the individual as well.

I think part of the problem may stem from the fact that just as in the world of fine art (paintings) there is good and bad art and even more mediocre art, there are pieces which are produced in this manner which are mediocre as well.  The tenents of design apply here just as much as in painting or in photography and the importance of taking care in our creating....meaning workmanship must be high as well.

I admit, I'm not fond of Chuck Close's early work, and other than using a photograph printed on fabric to practice quilting on before I go to my own piece, I am unlikely to quilt a piece which is a straight photographic the style of Barbara McKie.  I can tell you what I like and WHY I like it or don't like it.  However, I accept that Chuck Close's early work IS art even if it isn't a style I would use or would purchase.

I do find the subject bittersweet....I feel that fiber artists/quilt artists should spend more time honing our work and accepting the work of people who work in a style unlike our own but in the same medium rather than fighting among ourselves saying what is and what isn't art.  I would suggest that perhaps we should spend more time promoting art quilts rather than making and exclusive type of artwork more exclusive (meaning it's hard enough to be accepted in the art world without excluding people who work with fabric/fiber/textiles).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Did you Miss Me?

Did you miss me? I've been gone for a week to Arden, North Carolina where my youngest niece got married...She lives in Cut Bank, Montana as does her now-husband.  My sister lives in Washington state ane as his family is HUGE (ours is not) and her older sister is doing a post-doc at Chapel Hill, the wedding was on his family's orchard/organic truck farm.

Just prior to my driving down, I made the quilt top which is on the altar, a faithful rendition of their wedding announcement and something which turned out to be a recurring theme.   This was brought down just to have the family sign as a wall hanging, but she needed something to cover the "altar' so I brought it out for that. 

I worked hard....we prepared for 250, but only about 125 came.  We did the food ourselves which was quite interesting--making pasties for 250 people in a commercial kitchen....and dealing with all the hiccups which not having a caterer causes.....and just getting the grounds ready....oh yes, and my sister did the flowers as well...and I helped with logistics, bringing down tons of fabrics to use on the tables...Her wedding was at 5:00 pm, outside, down on the banks of the French Broad River.  They left in a dress and all.

Beth is a published poet and lover of words.  Katie, the 19th century British Lit. prof read  Litany by Billy Collins for her "Toast." You can find it on line, here
but here it is only to make it easier for you.

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Katie read it to bring in some humor.  Afterwards, she mentioned to me that she didn't think that anyone "got it."

I have read this before....I think either Katie or another friend, Lori Gravely, introduced me to it.  I love the language...and I m always given pause.  What did Collins really mean?  Was it as one of the commentators on the Poem Hunter site says "This poem isn't about love at all - he's making fun of the overuse of objects as symbols. It's basically showing how symbolism isn't symbolic when over done, not how he loves someone." (Shannon Swanson)  a "litany of metaphors?

I wonder...perhaps it is as the reader is to interpret it.  Perhaps it is merely something to make us think.  Perhaps it is just as he describes this case, a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.
Probably I'm just being to direct, and too representational again...

Yes, that's me on the right, my sister Mary in the center, and the blushing bride on the left...So...did you miss me?