rocket tracking


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: More Late Fall Color

Geranium "Roxanne" NOT color enhanced.

Oakleaf Hydrangea "Annabelle"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Art Quilting and Ohio

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Ohio Regional meeting of Studio Art Quilt Associates which was held at Nancy Crow's Barn (her classroom facility) in Baltimore, Ohio.  Nancy graciously opened her barn for about 20 members of SAQA to come and listen to her speak on the evolution of her property and her journey with art quilts as well as the opportunity for us to share our work, each a pot-luck lunch together and listen to Lisa Teufel of Dragon Threads Publishing talk about the jurying process at Quilt National.

Nancy's talk reminded me of this wonderful book by Gayle A. Pritchard, Uncommon Threads, Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2006.  ISBN-13: 978-0-8214-1706-5  or ISBN-10: 0-8214-1706-1).  Gayle Pritchard did a wonderful job in this book reviewing the early art quilt movement  and what made the heart of it really start here in Ohio.  Well written and heavily illustrated with photographs from the artists themselves in the early years (1970s) as well as bringing it right up unto the publication date with the avant guard pieces and where Pritchard sees the art quilt movement going.   No one artist dominates the book and illustration.  It is thoughtful, even-handed and absolutely exciting.  It is still available on Amazon (and I'm sure many other book sellers as well) for $22.95, but like many art quilt books, you can pick it up used for a song (new from Amazon associates for $4 or less than $4 used plus shipping).  If you are interested in art quilts, I highly recommend it.

I would also recommend Studio Art Quilt Associates...the opportunity to meet with so many talented fiber artists, talk with them, see their work and listen to the programs offered through the regional meetings is just great.  I was fortunate enough to go to Philadelphia this last year to the annual conference which made me want to go to the one coming up in March in Santa Fe in 2013...although I doubt I will be able to make it.  SAQA's membership is open to all who are interested in fiber art, whether as artists, supporters, collectors, or institutional members.  They host a number of juried exhibitions each year and have a really  nice journal which comes out quarterly.  In my case, the Ohio group is very active with members hosting meetings around the state.  I held one here last January....and might consider hosting another one soon.  You can find membership information here.  The SAQA website also has many illustrations of Professional Member's work in their gallery.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November Squash

Thanksgiving ushers in the mad tumble toward the end of the year.  Sort of odd when you think about it....I mean, here's the holiday where we are supposed to pause and give thanks...and then it roars into all the ridiculousness of "Black Friday" which is only "Black Friday" because of all the deals merchants offer to get people to spend...often on things we really don't need.

I admit, I have a lot to get done before the end of the year....and while I was going to work on some things in my studio today, it was thwarted because one of my daughter's friends came over to help decorate the Christmas tree.  I don't usually put up a Christmas tree THIS early...but since I can't handle going up into the attic well, it was best that Meg help out while she's home....and since I grudgingly got an artificial Christmas tree the second year we were here when Carlos was working in California until Dec. 22, and I couldn't handle loading and setting up a real tree myself...and we ended up having to borrow a Christmas tree because the last one I could find which wasn't ridiculous in price...was a pre-lighted one which lighted at the top, and at the bottom...leaving a black expanse.

So..the tree is up...and some of my fancy Santas are deployed....but other things will wait until I  am able to get some other things done....Where did the year go? So...before it is no longer the time to think of bounty...I'm posting this photograph of some lovely squash and gourds from a local nursery.  Love the texture....and of course, I love orange and yellow in all it's manifestations.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day

"Domestic Turkey", Lisa Broberg Quintana, 11" x 8.25"
I admit....I love Thanksgiving, and I really don't like the term "Turkeyday."  But, for the most part, I do think it is pretty cool that on this one day of the year, most American's celebrate by making meals which, with some variation, are pretty much consumed by all, regardless of religion.  I also like it that ostensibly, we set aside one day for giving thanks...which again, regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, we can all observe.  I realize that for many, it can seem hard to find things to be thankful many have hardships of all shapes, sizes and origin.  But I do believe that if we look closely enough, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for and quite often the practice of observing and being grateful and thankful for even those small things will bring a positive change in one's circumstances even if it is only in our well being.

OK...done with my soapbox for the day.  I did think, however, that it would be appropriate to share this small quilt today.  I did this in January, 2010 to submit to the Quilting Art's "Inner Animal" challenge.  I thought that no one would do a turkey other than me (and I was right) and I admit to having a fascination with the differing colors, textures and plumage of poultry.  I love going to the poultry and rabbit barns at the fair just to see what is there.

Turkeys are ugly least their heads are, but the colors and textures are intriguing.  I used various sheers to make the feathers and individually put the plumage from the tail/back area on one "feather" at ta time.  The body was made from two different types of   white damask polyester blends.  The wattle and eye area was made from distressed painted Tyvek.  The eye is a hematite bead, and the head area was done by free-motion embroidery with one of the decorative stitches on my Bernina 440.
Domestic Turkey, detail. 

I thought it turned out pretty cool....and like many art quilters, I admit to being a domestic turkey.  While I love to cook, I do find that taking care of the mountains of paper which come into this house, dusting, vacuuming, etc..well....they just aren't my cup of tea. I am always running off to things higgledy-piggeldy because I take on lots of things and when asked to do, work, or whatever..I am apt to join in.  Dust will be there tomorrow...and the next day.....and the next.

Needless to say, it didn't get in.   Who wants to look at a turkey anyway? Silly creatures....not the greatest to look at, certainly not the smartest...but, I do think they are tasty.

My model for this piece was the turkey I photographed in the Poultry Barn at the 2008 Miami County Fair here in Troy.  Turkeys have the obnoxious habit of constantly flipping their wattles around...and jerking their heads, which don't make for good photographs in spots of low light.  I didn't want to use a flash because I didn't want to scare the the photograph is out of focus...but I think you can see the resemblance.

So..I hope your day was a good one...and that you can find something to be thankful for.  I am thankful for your reading this and for all the wonderful people I have met on-line and sometimes have met later in person.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surprises in the Fall Garden

I've been trying hard to work in the garden for about an hour or so everyday.   Anymore, and I will pay for it the next day by my hands being sore, feet being awful, or my hip hurting...It is hard to rein oneself in.  Most of my work is to cut back some of my perennials.  While most of my neighbors cut everything down, I don't.  I leave my grasses and many of my perennials stalks, particularly rudebeckia (black eyed Susan) and echinacea (coneflower) as their seeds are relished by the birds and the seed heads, or what it left of them, provide interest in in the winter months.  My garden, even in the dead of winter, teams with all manner of birds....although I think I will ask for a heated bird bath for Christmas as since I had to cover my goldfish pond with a net to prevent any more of my fish becoming raccoon relish, the small birds are not able to drink there anymore.

Most people think that gardens this time of year are done, and not worth looking at.  I try to plan my beds for year round interest.  But, I always find surprises when I go to haul garden ornaments away to the shed for the winter, or work at pulling up Japanese honeysuckle and Bradford pear seedlings.  This oak seedling is only about 4" tall....but the leaf is just dumbfoundingly beautiful. I'm pretty sure it is a black oak, but it may be a burr oak....

This red maple seedling is also pretty spectacular for a plant so small.  I think I may move the oak seedling....but I probably will pull this one up.  Red maples have a tendency to suffer once they get to about 12 feet tall here...they exhaust the readily available nutrients and are not as good at getting the rest of the trace minerals out of my alkaline and heavily clay soil.  The soil is rich, but the plants have to be adapted to it.  Unfortunately, red maples are planted heavily here as a landscape tree....everyone wants the red color, and it isn't the best choice for this soil type.  A better choice might be a sugar maple...but those aren't found so much in the nurseries here.

I was startled to find this little nest in my lilac bush which is at the end of the deck.  I guess it just goes to show how little we used our deck this summer...most of the time it was just too hot, and since it faces south, the sun broils you no matter what the general temperature is.

The nest is tiny and made rather loosely of the previous season's daylily leaves.  For that reason, I suspect it is a Carolina wren nest.  House wrens tend to be "pocket nesters" looking for nooks and crannies to build their nests...whereas the Carolina will often build nests in tree branches...but I might be wrong.  Another odd habit of the wren is that the male  builds several nests and the female chooses which one she prefers.

About 100 feet away, outside the fenced in area, I found yet another small nest in my Trident maple.  Again, I think this is a wren nest, as hummingbirds build much more tidy and compact nests.  I have both wrens and hummers in my garden....but I think the hummingbirds prefer nesting in the mature spruce on the edge of the property.  The wrens run along my fence, but I am never really sure where they nest.  I'll just have to wait until Mark sees this and he can tell us what kind of nests these are.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stitch Like an Egyptian

"Stitch Like and Egyptian" Demo, AQS Grand Rapids MI show 2012
The internet is a wonderful thing...but sometimes it makes me whistful.  Almost a year ago, Jenny Bowker posted that she was curating an exhibition of fiber art from Egypt at the Festival of Quilts in the U.K.   Jenny has lived in the Near East and several Islamic countries for about 15 years as a result of her husband's position.  While in Cairo, she met Egyptian tent makers who made incredible appliqued work on canvas.

Like many, I've long been enamored of Eqyptian art and I would have loved to have gone to the show. I thought I would have to be content viewing it on the internet until I discovered this summer that Jenny had signed a contract with the American Quilter's Society and was going to have the exhibition at the show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What luck!  I went to see the show and it was mobbed.  If you have been following my blog, you know that I had one post which I pulled the photos down from when I realized that AQS not only wanted you to have permission from the artist, but also from AQS.  So....I dutifully sent an email to AQS.  and.....never heard back.  However, Jenny graciously said yes, and I decided that I would post this anyway....with the effort I usually take to properly attribute things.

"Stitch Like an Egyptian" was every bit as good as I thought it would be.  I actually had to wait for this picture to get some of the essence of the quilts in...most of the time it was difficult to take a long shot because there were so many people.

Some of the pieces are based on Arabic calligraphy  others like the one on the left here resemble tile work.  Others remind one of the wall of the ancient Egyptian tombs.  Men make these wonderful applique pieces which are often used on the walls of tents at funerals and for other occasions.  AQS alluded to this with the "tent" you see in the first photo.  Unfortunately, this is a dying art as the people are giving up their nomadic life and decorated tents as part of their culture.  Two of the tent makers , Tarek and Hossam came over and demonstrated...using large scissors and with hands that seem too big to make the fine stitches and work that they did.

Here you can see Hossam Mohamed working away at a piece inspired by lotus blossoms.  The woman in the background is Jenny.
The tent makers struggle to provide for their families. I am happy to report that although I was there on the first full day the show was open, many if not most of the pieces offered already had "sold" stickers on them.  I was even tempted to take one home...but I thought better of it as I wasn't sure how I would explain that one to my I had told him "Don't worry, I'm not going to be buying anything" as I left.

I did, however, buy the catalog that AQS produced...and I was even able to get my membership discount!  It is a wonderful book and well work the purchase price.  I didn't buy the DVD, but it includes the entire show as well as interviews with Jenny, Terek and Hossam.  You can guy it with the book, or separately.

The best part? I discovered that the exhibition will be at Quiltweek in Lancaster, PA, March 13-16, 2013 as well as at the Paducah show, April 24-27 in Paducah, KY.  So...if you are going to either show, make sure you allow enough time to take everything in.

And Jenny? I'm really thankful for the work you put in to make this possible.  It was a real treat to be able to see these wonderful pieces.

Once again, I am participating in Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays" fiber art blog if you want to see more fiberlicious blogs, just go here and link up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yesterday I noticed that it was the beginning of Diwali, the Hindu/Jainist/Sikh celebration.  While it is largely referred to as the "festival of light", it is a fairly complex festival...with a lot of different elements, end of harvest, the return of the Pandavas, the return of Rama...and the celebration of killing of the demon Narakasura the day before the festival begins which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.  I'm always fascinated with the fact that humans share similar festivals...and that light has so much to do with it...of course, light is necessary for most life forms.

One of the coolest things about Diwali is that it celebrates the awareness of the inner light.  Central to Hindu philosophy is the belief in something beyond the physical which is pure, infinite and eternal.  In fact, according to wikipedia "The celebration of Diwali as the "victory of good over evil", refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.
While the story behind Diwali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman)."  This concept is pretty cool.

Light fascinates me, just as it has so many others in the past.  One of the great things about living in Ohio (or the midwest in general) is how you can watch how the light changes as there is little to obstruct it.  Skies are quickly changing and a source of wonder for me.  
Karl Forster feather reed grass, peony, Miscanthus, Siberian Iris,  and oakleaved hydrangea.
Just moments earlier, the light make the plants in the photo at left glow....and then it faded, emphasizing how you must be quick to seize what you see and want to remember as it rapidly will change.

One of my favorite plants in the spring and again in the fall is Spirea "Mellow Yellow."  it has fine leaves and as it gets older, it will arch and fall like a fountain.  In the spring it has tiny white flowers and bright green leaves.  In the fall, when the afternoon light falls on it, it glows.  I am often taken to task for not cutting down all my perennials in the fall...for I like the stalks of the echinacea and rudbekia which stand up through the snows and ice and provide a food source for goldfinches.  

While the land is flat...light plays across it and changes things.  Here,  midwestern Taj Mahal...glowing like the Taj Mahal but rather than memorializing a favorite wife, it stands proof positive to the richness of the soil and to the importance of this country in feeding the world.  I love the blues/violets/greys and whites on the gold ground...So, while the light is fleeing...both in the day and the season...we do well to take a moment to look at what is around us...and to remember and feed our inner being as well as our corporeal bodies. 
Grain Bins, Nashville Rd., Troy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

After the Harvest

"After the Harvest," 17.25" x 30.5"
It's Friday....and time for participating in Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" blog hop.  I must admit, I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I have been working hard on straightening up my sewing room, trying to beat the cold weather outside, mourning the loss of many of my favorite large goldfish to a raccoon, and re-working "View from the Abyss" for another show.

So, I was a bit annoyed when I went to my photo files and couldn't find what I intended to write about tonight....but then I realized that I never showed you the result of the work I started in Montana for "The View from Here," a SAQA regional show.  So, here it is.  I'm not entirely happy with it...but I think that that is quite often the result when you imagine something and think you know how you're going to do it and then you realize that that won't work.  You see, I intended to show a cornfield which had been harvested right in the early part of December or so...Here in this part of the Midwest  snow comes and blows across, catching in the stubble.  I thought I would represent that by taking strips of sheers which were shredded on the edges...but when I tried that, it just didn't look right.

So, when that didn't work, I couched strips of confetti yarn down, then hand stitched over the top with hand painted variegated perle cotton I purchased at the Shibori Dragon.  The confetti gave the feeling that it was loose pieces of corn leaves fluttering in the wind, which is pretty much the feeling I wanted to express.  The ground is some of that rust dyed fabric I wrote about here and the sky is hand painted.

The trees didn't turn out quite the way I imagined.  I hand stitched in blacks, grays, and lavender over the top of netting, then cut the netting away to give the trees the branch effect.  I stitched this for hours in the car while driving around Montana and then back to Olympia.  Needless to say, all I could see were cottonwoods with leaves on, so I fear that they look more like cottonwood rather than oaks and maples which line the fence rows of Ohio and Michigan...and more Michigan than Ohio!

I'm tempted to rip the quilting out of the sky and do it over again....I think that the pattern obliterates the shading in the sky, which as you can see from the first picture look very much like the Midwestern sky.
I wanted to indicate wind, but these are just far too tight.  I was also struggling yet again with my hands. The barn sort of bugged me too...I wanted to thread paint it, but in this too I don't have the control I once did.

So, I hope you enjoy it, and take the opportunity to go to some of the other blogs.  I have to get back to finishing up the re-vamp of "View from the Abyss" and look forward to taking in the last of my big ceramic pots from outside and washing windows.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Old Red, White and Blue

This morning I thought I would write an uplifting post today about voting and encourage everyone to get out the vote.  I thought I would start with this quilt top.  My great-grandmother, Augusta Anderson Broberg made this top, I am  sometime between 1870 and 1910.  It is my only red, white, and blue quilt, although they were quite popular at this time period.

Augusta Anderson Broberg immigrated to Augusta, Michigan (something which always amused me) with her husband, John August Broberg.  Her husband died in 1894, when my grandfather was a year old.  She had a passel of children....and worked hard to give them good opportunities.  Although she died of a massive heart attack when she was 51, she had worked hard enough that my grandfather was able to attend what was then Western Michigan Normal School (now Western Michigan University, my undergraduate alma mater), something which was fairly uncommon.  My great aunt, Amanda Broberg Janes (Jaynes) gave the top to me when she noticed I was about 1974.  The top is hand pieced, but set with the red alternating blocks by machine, and not too well. Almost all of the blue pieces are this blue figured print, while the light pieces are a variety of printed shirtings.

Almost all the blues...except for about 5 polka-dotted prints on the outside row.  Someday, I hope to take it apart and re-set it so that the points meet and that all the red blocks are the same size...

I was thinking about women's suffrage   I was pleased that my daughter voted in her first presidential election.  She voted early and proudly called me to tell me.  I have always voted, and as a toddler she went with me into the voting booth.

Then, my brother called me.  He asked me if I had watched Obama: 2016.  I told him I hadn't (he had sent me a link about it earlier and after doing some research I decided I didn't want to see it as I didn't feel that it was a balanced and factual view--besides, I don't go to the movies much anyway....I haven't been since seeing The Help and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  He the asked me if I had voted.  I said yes, and he said "too bad."  Then he went into a tirade about how I shouldn't have voted that way and that "all those liberals who THINK they know something but don't (that is, me) should have their heads examined and that they don't know anything and should research things more deeply.  and on.  and on.  and on.  It wasn't until he had to stop and do something with his spraying unit that he hung up.

I said nothing.  What could I do? Every time I tried to point out something, he just hit me with more.  My viewpoint wasn't worth listening to.  Certainly nothing I was going to say was going to change his mind.  On Sat., my sister was very pointed about how it was wrong for Obama to infringe upon Catholic's religious beliefs.  I wonder what those who were killed during the inquisition would think about that comment.  I live in a very strongly Republican area of where the few Obama signs in our neighborhood, and others, were torn down...ours just once (hey, only 4 houses out of 12 had them), but in other neighborhoods, repeatedly.

The negativity in the advertising is horrific.  The division dire.  Compromise doesn't seem to be in anyone's vocabulary anymore.  A family friend posted on Facebook today about a conversation she overheard in a restaurant yesterday.  One woman asked another if she was going to vote.  The response:  "Nah--it's not an important enough election.  Our votes don't matter anyhow."  Apathy.  The feeling that no one is really listening...and that we don't count.  Scary.

Then on top of this...the shenanigans which have taken place in my county (Miami, OH).  First, some people were accidentally sent two ballots when they requested absentee ballots.  Then, it was discovered that the vending company failed to send out 35 to people who had requested them.  But the biggest problem was reported yesterday:  it was discovered that 177 absentee ballots requested by residents had never been processed by the vendor, Dayton Legal Blank.  To top it off, my neighbor stopped in and said that while she was in the polling place, a young man had to vent to her....his mother, who was home bound because of her attachment to medical equipment, was one of those who didn't have one of the requested ballots...He was told to go to the polling place.  The polling place said at first that they would send someone to her home to take care of it....but then they decided they couldn't do that.  So, the poor woman who followed the rules and requested an absentee ballot is not going to be able to cast her vote.

This is the travesty.  The vote will probably not be decided for days....because of things such as this, and of course the problems the poor people in New Jersey and New York face.  It seems awful that not only do have they lost their homes, belongings and are cold and some still without power, that they too are struggling to find a way to vote.

It is ironic, that Augusta Anderson Broberg had limited powers to vote (municipal elections from the time she reached majority until she was married (her husband then "owned" her legal rights) when she lived in Sweden.  She came to the United States, and worked hard, and succeeded  owning land and doing well despite having lost her husband at a young age.  She died before women in the United States won the right to vote.  I think that perhaps she would be proud of her great-great granddaughter taking such pride in exercising her right and responsibility to vote..after researching the issues and coming to her own decisions without the bullying of her neighbors and family.  I can only hope that we are able to move forward and live in harmony regardless who is elected.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Ethereal Work of Jen Siegrist

Tonight I thought I would share the work of a fellow Ohio fiber artist, Jen Siegrist.  I met Jen through Studio Art Quilt Associates and am grateful for the opportunity that SAQA brought.  Jen's work captivates me, for a variety of reasons.  She does work in basically two different styles.  One is more graphic and she often uses it to express emotion, often searing and raw views into life, sometimes her own.  The other is otherworldly, and probably exemplifies the mystical part in her business name , Mystic Earth Quilts.  It's this style which I am going to concentrate on tonight.  You can see her other work in her gallery on Mystic Earth Quilts.

Jen Siegrist, "Bird of Paradise in the Barren Wood," detail.
Jen works with hand-dyeing and discharging fabrics, layering, removing, replacing color and shading.  She sometimes works with the drip cloths, fabric she has placed to catch the drips from her hand-dyed fabrics.  She will often take the multicolored pieces of fabric and hang them in her studio, looking and thinking until the fabric communicates with her what it wants to be, and what she needs to express.

Bird of Paradise, reverse.
Working with a basic, 1970s era sewing machine, Jen is able to coax wonderful pieces from her raw materials.  When I first saw this piece, and another one "Aurora Objectified," I thought it had been done on a long-arm machine as the stitching was regular and handled particularly well...and for the size of the pieces, much more evenly than one would expect when one is shoving large pieces of fabric under an old, often cranky machine.

Jen's work really brings home the concept in quilting what my husband used to express in triathlons.  As he passed people riding expensive custom and high-tec bikes on hills and on the flats on his standard "off the line" bike" he would comment "It isn't what's under your feet, it's what's under the hood," meaning you are only as good as the training and expertise you have in your soul and physical body.  I have to say, Jen has what it takes in her sould and fingers.

I'm happy to say that Jen has recently been accepted into two major shows, and I can't wait to see what she makes next.  She's showing at WAH Center Grand Harvest show in Brooklyn (two pieces, "Native Americans" and "Two Bottles to Fill one Challice", and Quilts=Art=Quilts at the Schweinfurth gallery ("Totem, Dance with Me.").

I am participating in Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays," so if you want to see other blogs dealing with fiber and quilting, check out  her blog to find more fiberlicious links. .