rocket tracking


Saturday, October 30, 2010

HELP! Frustration abounds

Today, the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge was due at noon. Well, I didn't make it. But I'm really frustrated. It isn't as if I haven't been working on it. What you see at left is as far as I've gotten. Maybe you can help.

You see, this challenge was to write a haiku and do a quilt with it. I thought about this while I was at fact, I've been thinking about it ever since it came out. Haikus aren't my favorite thing to do because I think that it is really easy to make them forced, and that is it very difficult to write a good one.

I mentioned in my previous post about the house which had been moved next to and made part of a barn. Here's a corner of it.

One of the things which intregued me about this, other than the round window and the whole concept of what was once a house turning into a barn, was that the barn and the house were covered with grapevine.

The grapes had once been domesticated, as you can see they are white grapes, which I thought was rather unusual. The grapes which were grown on old farmsteads around my home in Michigan were Concord grapes, a wonderful purple skinned variety.

These are obviously white grapes. I was wondering if the choice of grapes was dependent upon the heritage of the farmer. In this area, the majority of the homesteads were German. My home in Michigan (both homes) were settled by people from Connecticut/Massachusetts and New York State (but probably from New England originally, just stopping before winding up in south central Michigan.

Isn't the round window great? The green color is corrugated fiberglass.

You can see where the plaster is coming through the lath, the keys (that's what the smushed out part is called) are mostly still there, even though the exterior siding is partially gone. The reddish color on the bottom is corrugated sheet metal siding.

The grapes have been there so long, the vines are huge and tearing the house apart.

So, I started on the Haiku (supposedly 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables).

Once tended, now wild.
Once Home now shelter, forlorn.
Nature claims her own.

I've worked a long time on this....and I still don't like it. In fact, I worked so long on the haiku, I didn't get started on the quilt.

I assembled the pieces thinking I would start tonight. I'm not inspired. Concept is neat, but when I tried to draw the leaves...well, they just looked weird. So that's when I scrounged around in my box of silk plant parts. Not quite the color I wanted, and the glitter...well, it doesn't quite go with what I was thinking.

Am I being too literal? I want to do something with this, especially with the house cum barn. I'm probably making this too hard. I don't want it to be something I'm not proud of, but I'm really struggling. Comments and suggestions, on both the quilt and the haiku would be greatly appreciated.

Of course, this week has been a struggle. I've been on a dead practically since August. Getting ready for the photo shoot for Meg, going to Montana, getting the Dayton Landmarks stuff together, getting the application for the MVAQN exhibition into the Dayton Visual Arts Center, having a garage sale because I have to clean out the area so that the furnace can be put in, having my friends visit, going to the doctors, going on retreat, preparing for a lecture on quilts and historical fabrics which I gave today, helping my daughter write essays for her college applications.

On top of all this, I found out that I have to start Chemo....again. Dealing with getting the information I need about that. Do I need a port put in? Why haven't I got a date to start, is the insurance hanging this up like it caused problems with my Faslodex shots?

The chemo will not cause me to be nauseous. It will cause me to lose my hair (again!) and is likely to cause fatigue.

All of this has caused me to wonder about what I'm doing. I'm mom to a high school senior, who (thank heavens) just ran her last cross country race. I sell books on Amazon. I participate in two quilt guilds and am a member of a third although lately I haven't been doing much with them. I am one of three people spearheading a sectioned quilt based on photographs of Dayton. I am the Exhibitions chair for the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network which means that I am trying to find venues for us to show and writing applications. I teach a workshop on art quilting for the Batty Binders, I try to participate in the MVAQN's art quilt study group which meets once a month and is going through Lyric Kinard's Art + Quilt (and so far, I'm behind in the exercises and what I have done I'm not happy with), plus, I garden and keep the household running. And yes, I participate in the Fast Friday Fabric challenge which does a small challenge once a month. I want to get my bedroom painted and the area for my Handi-quilter set up.

I am overwhelmed and feel like I'm not getting anything accomplished. I especially feel like I'm just spinning my wheels art quilt wise. I think I have to jettison some things...but what?

Quilting in Palestine

Last weekend was a beautiful fall weekend. On Friday, I drove out to Palestine, Ohio, right near the Indiana border. Palestine is a small rural community which appears to be dwindling away.

One of the cool things was this water pump, still sitting at the town crossroads. Here, you could draw water to water your horse, dog or whatever. Although cracked, the concrete trough was still there.

I think the trough probably dates to the 1920s or just before World War II. It seems that the town had some prosperity then. The retreat was held in this brick school, which was once the high school. Built in 1923, it was abandoned some years ago when they consolidated the school districts out there. Now, there is another school where the children from this tiny community go to with children from other small towns in the surrounding area.

One of the local churches, or perhaps it was a group, obtained the building and converted it to a retreat center for all Christian groups to use as an off site meeting place and retreat center. On weekends other Christian groups can rent it overnight.

Last year, the Batty Binder's quilt group of Troy rented it and they had so much fun, they reserved it for this year as well. One of the nice things is that you don't have to bring your own bedding and they do all the cooking and cleaning. In essence, all you need to do is...quilt.

I didn't go last year because I was in too much pain from a broken pelvis. I did go this year. Lots of people got terrific amounts done. Here, you can see Debbie Black's terrific start on her circle quilt, a present for her daughter who is a high school senior this year. She did it from a pattern in a quilting magazine, but some of our co-horts made the suggestion that she add the green triangles, something not in the original pattern. I think that the green triangles on the white blocks makes the quilt far more interesting.

Here you can see the gymnasium taken over by all 22 of us quilting away. I didn't get much done...I did paint some faces on some small dolls for one of the ladies. I also took a walk exploring and taking lots of pictures, particularly of the decaying barn at the top of the page. The barn was quite large, and had had a small house, built around 1860 moved and attached to the barn. I presume that the house was moved to make room for a larger, more prestigious dwelling. I could see the rise and the evergreens which had been planted around where the new house had been. The small one was now falling into ruins and had been put there quite some time earlier...I'm guessing at about the 1890s or 1900. The second house, however is long gone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kids, Stairs and PJ's

My nephew Gabe is only 13 years younger than I am....He has three kids, and since I got home fairly late from a meeting with some quilty friends, I thought I'd share this little giggle.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monkey Puzzle Trees

This summer, in answer to a challenge, I started a small 20" x 20" rendition of a Monkey Puzzle tree. The challenge was to do something with a tree from an angle that most people hadn't looked at it before and to use a method which we didn't usually use....In addition, the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network put out a challenge with the theme of "Puzzle." I thought, ahah! I'll do one little quilt which will fit both challenges. I'll use hand stitching which I don't usually do and since it's small, I'll get it done in the week's time I needed for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. I also thought this would work well as I was going to Connecticut and wouldn't have my machine available.

Well, I used variegated perle cotton thread on a piece of synthetic slubby linen from the 1970s. I outlined all the leaves in violet with back stitch then used running stitch in variegated greens long the leaves. I shaded using a variegated darker, almost sage to forest green DMC embroidery floss (3 strands) for shading the leaves at in a long/short stitch combo. I finally finished it at the quilt retreat this weekend. It took me the better part of the day to do echo quilting around the leaves by machine. I had previously done machine trapunto on the leaves, only putting a single line of quilting down the middle of the leaves and outlining each leaf. The echo quilting is done with a variegated King Tut in red/violet/navy.
Here's the real monkey puzzle bud end of a branch. You can see where I quartered it and designed the quilt based on it.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is Araucaria araucana and is native to Chile and parts of the Andes. It grows in zones 7b to zone 10 and is sometimes used as an ornamental in the U.S. and other places, I think in particular Australia as that is where most of the comments on this tree seem to originate on the web.

I have seen several in Washington state, in fact, this particular specimen is not far from my sister's house. It has an open habit and is sort of odd looking.
I think the oddest thing about them is the "monkey" I think it may be a fruiting body (i.e. "cone" ), but I'm not sure. According to people who have them in their yards, they aren't the nicest plant to deal with. The have very sharp needles (some describe them as being razor edged) and the "cones" can weigh up to 10 pounds each....I don't think I'd like to stand underneath one and get bopped by one! The trees can grow to 70 feet tall by 30 feet wide.

Here you can see the brown "monkey." Interesting...but I'd rather have my quilt, thank you very much!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Golden Paint Demonstration

Things have been extremely busy around Casa Quintana....quilting activities, house guests, senior activities and cross country has really tied me up.

Last Saturday, the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network hosted a demonstration by Merle Rosen, Golden Paint Company's artist representative for the area. Merle brought lots of the mediums and paints to Appalachian Quilts and showed us all about Golden's various products.

Here you can see the hand painted color "chips" Merle supplied....In order to make sure that you see exactly what the color and opacity of the paints, Golden employs people who hand paint splashes of paint across a white background. This is really great as there isn't any "printing" error.

Merle talked to us for 2 1/4 hours about all the different products and their uses. She handed around samples of things that she had done, and liberally applied globs of material to paper so we could work them around with palette knives.

I was grateful for this as Golden carries a lot of products that I didn't know what they were used for or how to use them. Golden is known for their high pigment load in the vehicle and for the light fastness of their product.

I admit, after my doctor's appointment on Friday, I ran out to Michael's and bought the GAC 900, which is their fiber medium. I can't wait to get to play with it. Michaels carries their fluid paints and their heavy bodied paints, not in a full run of colors, I'll have to wait to go to Columbus to get that...and some of the other things like their mica and their irridescent stuff. Hopefully, I'll be able to do something really fun with the new materials.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pinks in the Fall Garden

I've had visitors from Connecticut....and things have been really busy. Today, I worked a bit in the garden, trying to get some things done before the weather turns too cold.

Some things are pretty surprising. Here is a new favorite, Echinacea (coneflower) "Raspberry Truffle." I bought this in Connecticut this spring on the advise of grower Bruce McCue. McCue suggested this one as he feels that the "Big Sky" series is highly over rated and doesn't have the staying power. I have to agree, my experience with the "off color" echinaceas from the Big Sky series have been short lived. Bruce says that the seeds are treated and therefore the plants don't usually have vigor over more than a few years. This one, he assures me, is different.

At this point, I don't care if it is short lived or not, it is a spectacular plant!

Another spectacular plant, and a native like the echinacea, is this Itea, this particular one is "Little Henry." A lot of people want the fall color like this, and plant burning bush (Euonymous) which is a non-native and is very, very invaisive. Little Henry is well behaved and grows in a lot of different areas....and I think that the wonderful fall color is every bit as beautiful, if not more so, than "burning bush."

It has been a horribly dry fall, and I've lost a lot of plant material. I lost a Franklinia tree while I was in appears that husband's aren't too good at keeping things watered. I'm hoping that the Stewartia which is leafless now is going to make it. See the red splash of color? It is another really strong performer.

Here is it up close. Persicaria amplexicaulis "Firetail" , also known as Firetail Fleece flower. It likes to have it a bit moist, but I don't find it overly thirsty. Unlike a lot of the Persicaria family, this one is well behaved. It doesn't take over the world like "Lance Corporal" and some of the others. I've had this one here for 5 years and I brought it down as a start from Connecticut.

The only drawback is has is that Japanese beetles love it. However, I've discovered a way around this. I cut it back when they have skeletonized the leaves and made it rather...icky looking. I'm ruthless with it, and yet, by the late fall, it has thrown new leaves and these gorgeous pink flowers. The leaves also turn russet and are really cool this time of year. Since the Japanese beetles have long since gone, this second flush actually looks good.

This is taking the long view....the large green plant just to the right of the center ground is a pink "knock-out" rose....I planted it to be a light pink point contrasting with the purple leaved plum behind was supposed to be no more than 3 is a little more. I am still trying to figure out whether I like it there or not as pale pink in the fall looks a little strange! It's far prettier in the spring, but since it blooms from June on, I guess I can't complain!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Art Studio Tour in Yellow Springs

This weekend, amongst a lot of hustle and bustle, I went to the Yellow Springs Studio Art Tour in Yellow Springs, OH with my house guests from Connecticut. They have managed to come about the same time each year for the last several years and this has become a favorite side trip.

The day was glorious. Fall colors were everywhere and Yellow Springs is a wonderful little town....even if we were not able to go to the Winds Restaurant to get some squash lasagna for Martha. It was so packed that they were not even taking reservations. We stopped there at 2:00 p.m. and were told that the wait was 50 minutes. We went to another favorite stop, Bentino's Pizza where I had yet another wonderful pizza.

This year, instead of just having one artist at each stop, each "host" artist was allowed to ask two other guest artists. the Miami Pottery hosted Lori Gravely and a wonderful jewelry maker. Here's Lori with some of her quilts.

I was also able to stop by and see fellow MVAQN quilter, Pam Geisel at her studio where she hosted two other people as well, only I stupidly didn't take pictures of Pam's work. You can see Pam's things here on her website. She also sells on Artfire and Etsy.

Pam and Lori both had successful days. I can't imagine the pressure they are both under as they prepare for another show at Glen Helen.

Here's Lori's sales area, and the smaller shot is a close up of some of her work.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Tonight was Troy's homecoming game. Each game, the high school chooses a theme which which sets the tone for the student section.

Can you guess? In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness, they choose to do a "pinkout." Everyone was to wear pink. Last night, my house was the staging area for 5 girls to make pink t-shirts. My daughter and I dyed the shirts, then they came and availed themselves of my fabrics and Wonder-under to make the lettering which they then embellished. Their work looked pretty professional.

In addition, the National Honor Society sold pink ribbons to raise money which will be given to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.....

It really was a sea of pink.....even the guys wore pink. And the Green guy? Well, that's George and he even put pink ear muffs and accouterments on his green skin suit.

Unfortunately, we lost the game (Troy was 6 wins to 1 loss until now). Trotwood was just bigger and played harder. However, I think they're all winners for making this public statement and working to try to find a cure or to eradicate breast cancer. I just hope that these girls take it to heart and do their self-breast exams and work hard to stay healthy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

False Advertising?

The other day, I had to get my eyes tested, and as it has been for the last five years, I needed to get new glasses. Before going, I cut out a coupon. The coupon offered two "complete " pairs of progressive glasses with scratch resistant lenses for $199. " I gave her my coupon and picked out my glasses. I had her run it with insurance and with the coupon but no insurance. Guess what? My total was $546. Huh? So what happened to two pairs of glasses for $199???? She never told me what frames were included....obviously what I chose wasn't included in the special.

Two months ago, I took a good hard look at my telephone/TV and internet bill. Hmmm. Last year, I had switched to DirectTV because the cable bill was going high...they were going to charge me $140 for the three services. DirectTV advertised a special price of $26.99; and if I bundled through Verizon, the total would come to just $79.99..... Funny thing was though, when they came I had to pay extra to have the installation done because they "mirrored" one of the connections. I had to pay extra for each of the receivers (not dishes, mind you, the receivers). I was really confused when all the dust was settling down as I was paying $79.93 just for the television service, the bundled telephone and internet connections boosted it up to $153.93. Hmmm.

So, I changed back to cable, which has a faster internet connection and less issues with the television (pixelating and I no longer have to run to another room to change the channel on my television in my sewing room). I am still confused as to what an extra $5 charge is on my bill, and I don't understand why the incoming telephone numbers don't show up on the TV screen......and I wonder....How is it that whatever they advertise these days just doesn't seem to be what you end up paying for?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Visual Texture and Art + Quilt

Tonight was my Batty Binder's Art Quilt study group (Twisted Stitchers). I've been leading a small group of women through the Art Quilt Workbook by Jane D'Avila and Elin Waterston. Since I knew several people were going to be gone tonight (in actuality only two were) and I wasn't sure where in the process everyone was, I decided we would share what we have and do an exercise on visual texture from Lyric Kinard's book, Art + Quilt.

We started out with our "share". Susan Pickerell, at right, brought along a bag of trims and goodies she picked up at a church rummage sale. In the bag were all sorts of wonderful things, including this chiffon headscarf that Linette Vagedes had to share with us, modeling it in her best 1960s and 70s style. No, she doesn't look this goofy in her normal life. Susan was kind and shared some of her bounty with us. We did look at four small quilts, but I was so involved in moving the group along..I forgot to shoot them.

My Miami Valley Art Quilt Network has just started working through Art +Quilt. As usual, I'm behind...and I'm quaking in my boots as this book has many in depth exercises. If I can complete it, then I think I will have learned a lot and become a better quilter.

The point of the book is design methods. In this particular exercise, you are to photocopy in black and white five different fabrics which have different visual texture, then combine them in various ways to see what happens. In the MVAQN group, we realized that the stark white backgrounds didn't seem to make as successful designs, so I had this group put it on a textured background, although we discussed the differences. This exercise is great, but time consuming. One of our MVAQN members spent about 20 hours working on hers.

Here, you see our rebel, Gwen Brown's composition. It's pretty neat...although Gwen decided to make her pieces have actual texture in addition to the print. She made her paper "quilt" three dimensional. I can't complain too much because my effort was really bad and I couldn't quite seem to get anything going that I liked.

Here's Ruth Treon's. Pretty cool. Next is Susan Pickrell's.

This last one is supposed to be a vertical orientation, and it also cheats a little as it too is three dimensional as well as having a strip of chenille rickrack added.

Lyric's book, if it continues in this vein, is going to require a lot of effort to complete the exercises. I hope I can get some time to work on them. In the meantime, enjoy these paper "quilts."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Catching up, weeding out

For the past several days, I have been going through fabric, books and household items....mostly of the decorative variety, weeding out. I need to clear things out as I have gotten to the point that I feel choked by having too much stuff, and I'm embarrassed that I have gotten to that state. So many people in the world have too little....and I have more than I need.

So, yesterday, I had a garage sale and sold LOTS of fabric....not even a dent in what I have, but I moved on a lot of fabric that I don't really have an interest in any more.

In some ways, it was difficult. Many of the pieces I had purchased to make clothing for Meg (when she was 2), some were pieces I got to make quilted items for my sister as presents...and for others (sorry, Trout, I got rid of one of the panels I was going to do something for you with too). I partly need to do this because I want to clear out an area so that I can set up the Handi-quilter (the original version, not the new and improved one) and my Juki sewing machine so I can have an almost-long arm set up. The other reason this needs to be done ASAP is that we need to get a new furnace and there's no way that the furnace people could get into the area because I had so many totes of books and fabric.

You should have seen the gloriously beautiful purple paisley corduroy which is now going to be made into bears. 30 yards went to make baby quilts and little dresses for girls in Africa (I don't really understand the concept of making shifts in western style and paying to send it to Africa....but OK...I mean, wouldn't money be better?).

I need to start working in the garden again. Mulberries have been planted by the birds and need to be ripped up. Dandelions, purslane and various grasses are threatening to take over. Working in the garden is going to be a little difficult as I have something wrong with the muscles (left pectorals) on my side, but I will do what I can. Tomorrow, I plan on taking the dregs to Goodwill. :)

In the meantime, enjoy the backlighted grasses and Salvia bonariensis.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rich area for Quilts

The other day, Vivien Zepf commented that I was indeed in an area rich for people who love fiber arts....Indeed. I'm struggling because I found out yesterday that there is a quilt show in Greenville, OH (the home of Annie Oakley) tomorrow and Saturday. In addition, there is a display of Amish and Mennonite quilts (modern ones) at the Aullwood Audubon Center which will be auctioned on Saturday. Last week, I missed the Farmersville, OH show which is sponsored by the Rotary. This show is a small one, but people I know who go say it is well worth it.

The Greenville show is a bit larger. A number of women in my Troy guild exhibit there. I'd love to go, but I find that I'm going to the doctors because of a problem I'm having rather than spenging the day at the Dayton Visual Arts Center shepherding an exhibition proposal through the process. I am preparing to sell some of my fabrics and books at a garage sale on Saturday, and while if I had known about the show, I could have closed the sale early, but instead, I advertised it for a full day. Rats.

This lovely little piece illustrating the blog today is one called Spin Hill. It was exhibition at the Marianist Environmental Education Center in the show I did earlier this year. The artist is only in the 9th grade, but I think you'll agree that the use of her long stitches give wonderful texture to the piece and the curly top of the hill is just delightful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quilt Patterns and the Sweet Grass Hills

Yesterday my neighbor came over with a quilted table runner she was making. This was her first quilting project and she undertook to make a runner which had pieces set on the diagonal and pointy ends. It looked great and she did a wonderful job....but she was ready to put on the binding.

The instructions merely said "cut three strips 44" long x 2 1/2" wide. This is your binding. Apply." Not so good for a first time quilter. She said "Now, I'm going to sew this part down then I'll cut off the excess and turn it to the back." Uh, no.

I explained how since this was a working piece, the intent of the pattern maker was for her to fold the strip in half and with right sides together, sew the raw edges to the front of the runner, then turn it to the back and blind stitch it down. I showed her how to turn the corners and make the points, which is tricky enough for a quilter to get down.

She said "But the instructions didn't say to do that!" What did the instructions say? "Nothing. Just to cut it." Right. The pattern maker assumed you knew how to apply bindings. All she was interested in was getting you to the point where you had to apply the binding.

This made me think of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law in Montana. She had asked a pattern company if they would make a pattern for the Sweet Grass Hills, a line of hills in the north of Montana which are beloved of Montanans.

The Sweet Grass Hills are composed of three peaks, and are just south of the Canadian border. They are important to the Blackfeet and other plains tribes in the area. According to Blackfeet tradition, the hills were made by the creator from left over stone from the Rockies. Napi (the creator) loved them so well that he used them for his resting place. The hills were a perfect look out point for the tribes to watch for game and for enemies.

The pattern people told her "Sure, just send us the pattern and we'll print it and promote it. " Yah. Sure. Well, lets put it this way, they would print it, promote it and take all the money.

She asked me what I thought of such a plan. Hmm. The Sweet Grass Hills can be seen on the east side of my mom's house, but they are at a great distance. As we were driving to her church is when Barb popped this question, and we were looking at the hills. I told her that I didn't think it would make a very good pattern, at least what I knew of it (which grant you is from a distance as I've never made it over to the hills as an adult) because there wasn't very much of interest...meaning there wasn't a real focal point. The Sweet Grass Hills are what you see in the first image.

Then, I saw this grain elevator. That, I said would be it gave the interest and focal point.

Here it is with the Sweet Grass showing beyond it. Now mind you, I'm sure that if I got closer to the Hills, they would be more interesting and I could find another focal point....probably another grain elevator or a wrecked barn...or a piece of discarded farm equipment.

She didn't understand this and was a bit miffed that I was calling "HER" hills "without interest."

In order to have a successful piece, you have to have something your eye is drawn too...smudgy hills with flat land won't make for a good pattern. The other challenge for the Sweet Grass Hills Project is that in order to be successful, it would have to have interest for people beyond the people of the Sweet Grass Hills area.....and, of course, it should have the full instructions....even how to do the bindings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quilty days and hot stuff

This week is a very quilty week. Friday, we hung a show of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's work at the Glen Helen Nature Center, 405 Cory Rd., Yellow Springs, OH. It's a small show, but it is a fun show. m At left is a grouping of coneflower quilts done in response to a challenge. (Far left: Diane Boley, small framed and large quilt is Ann Diller's work, and the one with squares is Joan Sterr who calls this one "Move Over Andy") . Sunday, we had the opening.

Tonight, I had a MVAQN board meeting and then the Monday Group met and showed the work completed on Lyric Kinard's Art + Quilt.

I didn't get any of my homework done as I'm still fiddling with the Chiaroscuro piece and my sewing room is so disgustingly awful with debris all over everywhere that I don't really much want to go in there. I made Pozole today with the last of the tomatillos and harvested some Cow's Horn peppers. I bought them on a lark. I had no idea how hot they were but the picture looked cool.

Cow's horn peppers are curved, like cow's horns. I tried to find how hot they were. Today, I found out the hard way. I tested it a little first. Nothing happened, so I didn't don my latex gloves like I do when I know that a pepper is hot. After about 15 minutes, my hands were on fire and they got worse if I ran water over them. After much scrubbing, pouring milk over them and rubbing with oil, I got most of it off and it didn't hurt. So I thought. Until just a few minutes ago when I rubbed my eye. Guess what? The oil is still there, at least remnants of it. Not a good thing.
Now, I'm sneakily putting these at the end...This is a group of us just before the opening. At left is Diane Boley, in the center is Fran LaSalle and next to Fran on the right is Cathy Barnes.

This next panel has Fran's "Something Fishy" , a small piece I have done called "Cellular Junction," below the fringe on mine is a Frog done by Ginny Crabtree, next to the fringy thing is Kate Burch's "Frog in a Bucket," below the frog is another frog by Fran LaSalle, and then my "Standing on Sacred Ground." The frogs, like the coneflowers were done in response to a bi-monthly challenge where words or techniques are chosen at random.

Friday, October 1, 2010


This month's challenge for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge group was to work with Chiaroscuro (key-are-oh-scure-row). Chiaroscuro is the technique of using dramatic lighting, where the lights are very light and the darks very dark, almost as if a spotlight has been cast on the scene. Some of the best examples are by Rembrandt van Rijn and Carravaggio. Rembrandt's The Nightwatch is one good example, Caravaggio's Judith and the head of Holofernes is another, although I think I like Judith primarily because of the bible story behind it.

At the time this call was issued, I didn't have a whole lot of images to work with. I thought I'd give this photo of Meg at prom this last year a shot. It isn't the best example, only because a stronger raking light is easier to work with.

Here's what I worked up. I used Lumiere, Dyna-flow and standard acrylic paints with textile medium; Prismacolor, Mondiale and Caran d'ache pencils and the earring and the sparkles on her dress were done with a metallic gel pen. I intend to go back and add some crystals for her earrings and perhaps a couple of tiny ones on her dress after I have quilted it.

It is difficult to get the darks dark enough without making it look like she has a good sprinkling of dirt on her. While the shot at left is a little washed out (I shot it at night inside with a flash) not using a flash leaves it too yellow.

I think I will add netting over her hair to give it a shadow effect. I'm not sure what to do to darken her face and skin. While it is a good rendition of the human form, it just isn't dark enough and the highlights light enough to make it a good example of chiaroscuro at the moment. Her eyes are actually green and I need to add a little fleck of white to make it come alive and I need to work with that a bit more.

The mouth is a tad awkward, while a reasonable mouth, it isn't Meg's. I will also work more on her hand.

I think it might have been easier if I had done this larger, it is only 8 1/2" x 11". With a larger format, you can get in and do more detail to make it darker or whatever. I felt like I was running the risk of making her look like she had dirt or facial hair. I think, however, I may try to add some more washes over the top to try to darken the dark areas.

If I could work off the computer screen, I think it would have been easier. The paper print I made put the whole thing into about the same value range, so I wasn't really seeing what I needed to.

I think this is a passable first effort, but certainly one which needs some more work.

Pink is upon us again, join the Army of Women

Twice a year, the U.S. (and perhaps the world..I don't know) start "thinking pink." May, around Mother's Day and October, everyone reminds you to "think pink! It's Breast Cancer Awareness month (in the case of October). I wonder why they chose October, because it has Halloween, and is therefore scary?

Some of us have to think pink daily. Blazoned across my brain and everywhere else I am praying for a cure. The Army of Women not only works for a cure in research, as well as offering several mentoring possibilities, but it pushes for breast cancer prevention. Is it possible? I sure as heck hope so. Take a look at this.

I support the Army of Women, and would like you to take a look at their website, even though I think that "Army of Women" is a little, um... sexist as men get breast cancer too. One of the things I really like about AOW is that they really get the word out and there are lots of research opportunities for people to participate in. Check this out here. If you qualify, or if you know of someone who qualifies for a study, please please please ask them to participate.

I am currently in the study for young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. I was the first one in my family to win the cancer prize when I was diagnosed at age 33. I was married at age 30, and had my first (and only) child at age 32. I was 38 when I had a stage IV recurrence with bone metastases. I was cancer free until this year when I was diagnosed with multiple metastases to various bone locations in May, 13 years after the second diagnosis, 16 years after the first.

Unfortunately, I had a daughter. Why unfortunately? Because I'm afraid that she might get it too, and that was a motivating reason for me to join the AOW and participate in this study. With a sister, and both parents still living, perhaps studying my genetics will provide something so that they can figure out how to avoid it.

Don't get me wrong, I really really want a cure. Currently, I am living my life wondering if I should join soemthing , or buy something because I might not live long enough to enjoy it. In just a little bit, I will celebrate my 20th anniversary with my poor husband who has lived most of his married life with a woman who is no longer interested in sex because she had her ovaries removed when she was 38 to try to prevent a recurrence. He married a woman who ran, biked and swam, but for the last year can barely walk some days because of the pain in her pelvis because of the recurrence/damage caused by cancer and its treatment.

Even if you don't have stage IV, even if you don't have a recurrence, it is always the elephant in the room, a shadow hanging over your shoulder. Some days you think about it. Lots of other days you don't. If we could find out more to prevent it, it would be great.

Don't believe all of the stories about "well, if you didn't do this, or that" then you wouldn't have breast cancer. Listen folks, I was slender, I was active, I didn't drink, smoke, nor was I ever on birth control pills. For several years, I was a vegetarian. I ate healthy food, far more vegetables than most people. Yet, I got cancer. I gained weight. I struggle to survive. Finding out more, working to prevent it is definitely something I can support and hope you do too.

And the rose? It's Belle Story, a wonderful long blooming rose by David Austin, great fragrance, great color, long lasting and tough. Something I wish we all were.