Observations on life & art and the inspirations I see around me

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Week In Between

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas & Hanukkah.  The days after Christmas and before New Years have always seemed a bigger "in between" time to me than just another week.  It might be all the years of school,  as a student and then teacher,  but I like the relaxed feeling of this week after the build up to Christmas. I do wish we had more emphasis on the 12 days of Christmas but I guess we're tired from all the commercial hype. 

Among good things to enjoy are the left over yummy treats before we go on the universal diet in January. I like to use some of the quieter moments for reflection and planning. Whatever you do this week put your heart into it and then march into 2012 with high hopes. I'll be spending most of my time with family & friends. Wishing you a Very Happy & Blessed New Year. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Almost Ready.

I'm rather anxious for 2011 to be over with as it's not been a top year for our family. That's not to say there haven't been some woderful moments of joy & celebration and I hope we have a few more in the final 2 weeks of the year. The stocking are hung and we're on the count down to Christmas. I think of Christmas as a special Beginning and then we get a little rest before we jump into a New Year.

Beside the stockings and ornaments on the tree I added another bit of color to the decorations with a paint chip garland; I'm a loyal Home Depot customer so they shouldn't mind when I take a few extra.

Looking back a bit I just downloaded pictures from our trip a couple of weeks ago so I'll share a few here. The furniture show was a guy's version of Quilt Festival (much smaller but very creative). I'm hopeful that Karl will absorb some of these ideas for furniture in the new year and there will be a new house in the not too distant future. Our abode won't be as creative as the one below at Camp Lonehollow but will share the metal exterior.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up gift projects & doing some baking so that I can take to my rocking chair with a good book (hint to Santa) and cup of tea in those last quiet moments of 2011. Hope you're getting primed for a wonderful holiday with family & friends too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Way It's 'Spozed to Be

When I started teaching way back in the dark ages of 1970 I read a book titled "The Way it's Spoze to Be". It was about the dysfunction of our educational system. No, I'm not going into a political rant.

That title has stayed with me over the years as an expression of my feelings as I ponder how I think things SHOULD be and how they really are. In the last 1/4 of my life I think I'm beginning to learn some important lessons starting with "there's more you don't control than you do" & "just because you think it's spozed to work a certain way doesn't mean it will" & finally "we will get through by Grace".

My closest friend since age 10 wasn't spozed to get cancer but she did. She & her supporters are making the best of a bad situation. She & I ran off to Fredericksburg last week & shopped, laughed & played to exhaustion (I know I was tired). Another very dear friend wasn't spozed to have her husband of 32 years want a divorce but it happened. She is being strong and brave and inspiring as she creates a new life in the Texas hill country.

Instead of doing serious art (what I'm spozed to do "IF I'm a serious artist") I spent this past week making & glittering book paper trees and snow flakes and taking time out for fun with friends. We were spozed to be moved by now so my decorations weren't spozed to be miles away at the back of storage while I'm still in Argyle. My 1970's needlepoint ornaments that live in the cedar chest instead of with the rest of the deco stuff got to be center stage once again. They are hung on the 1/2 price artificial tree (not spozed to get a fake tree as it's not planet friendly) & the Norfolk Pine that barely survived the supper from hell but they look good and I think Karlie will be duly impressed. Now it's on to making the gifts that time allows for. I was spozed to do these months ago. Ha!
So my point with all this rambling is? Life isn't the way it's spozed to be. Life is what happens while you were making other plans. Accept what is. That doesn't mean that we don't fight for what is right & good. Make the choice (over & over, day by day)to make the best of realities. Together with grace we CAN be people of Goodwill. Enjoy the season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ups & Downs

I am not sure anyone is still checking here as I've been so erratic lately with my blogging. Just when I think I have a good post in my head something comes along before I get to the computer and have pictures to go with it. I'm already thinking of the new year & hoping to do better. I'm also hoping the house sells but that's a story for another day. For now here's a bit of an update on what's going on in my life.

Fall finally came to Texas. We had a wonderful weekend celebrating Ashley's Nov. 12th birthday. She and Frank did most of the cooking and she made not one but TWO wonderful cakes, chocolate with salted caramel filling and Tres Leches with berries - YUMMY. This was after a fajita taco bar.
In case you're thinking "lazy Mom", she wanted to do it. She loves to cook & we agree with her friends who think she could make cooking a 2nd career. We had the party here and also celebrated Elliott as we hadn't been together for his Oct. birthday. There were about 35 of their friends & lots of kids. I really enjoy that that they both have friends of long standing & we've been able to watch their children grow. Poppy was a huge hit with the younger guests with Karlie's new train. The next day a friend of Ashley's & Frank's came out and did some pictures of them and the whole family. I'm excited to see these as we've not had one of the 7 of us.

My work has been less well received lately. Both pieces I sent and Lu & my collaborative piece got rejected for the Texas Fiber Art Federation show in Feb. I know that rejection is always a possibility and I can't let it stop me from making art. I'm happy for DAFA friends who did get work accepted & look forward to the show & conference. If you are in Texas and interested in fiber art there is still lots of space to attend the

We spent the weekend in Wimberley. The temps were in the mid 80's and then dropped to the 40's by the time we got home last night. It's raining now which is GREAT.

We are loving having Karlie & her dad here for an extended visit (Mom comes on Wed.). I'm not getting to the sewing machine this week but I did get a new piece pinned up before they came. Here are a couple of possible arrangements.

The working title is "By the Numbers". I am currently addicted to the political discourse and need to express my frustrations in ways other than rants. Without going off on a tangent, I will say that I am not the "norm" that statistics say becomes more conservative with age. My plan is to get this done before the holidays so I can enter it into the Dallas Quilt show. I hope all my work for the next year is not this "DARK". Happily the family quilt mentioned in a recent post got finished and mailed and was well received.

Next week I'm going back to Austin to visit my friend who is having chemo and take her out for as much fun as she can handle during "the good week" before her next treatment. Thankfully the Dr. has said they will wait until Jan. to start radiation. I'm hopeful she'll feel well enough to really enjoy the first Christmas her grandson will be aware of all the excitement.

Wishing everyone a wonderful & blessed Thanksgiving. If you aren't familiar with "Advent Conspiracy", please check it out and consider it as a way to share your holidays It's on You Tube; I tried to link but am techno inept & 2 year old distracted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Back on What Inspires You

I am not a big fan of day light saving time either when it starts or ends each year. I don't like the sudden dark afternoons and wish they would leave nature alone. The end of Oct. does mark the beginning of the holiday season and Quilt Festival.

Like many of you, I have many wonderful Quilt Festival memories and love all the excitement of the exhibits & vendors. I have always left Houston full of inspiration so today I am thinking of friends who are heading in that direction to bask in much deserved kudos and sharing of creativity. Congratulations especially to Jules Rushing & Deborah Boschert. I wish everyone a great time & hope to see & hear reports soon.

Travel to Houston wasn't in the cards for me this year so I'm focusing on recovery from an exciting Halloween weekend with my favorite munchkin and organizing for sewing & creativity on the home front. However you spend the coming weekend I hope that the fall back is a gentle boost to your creative spirit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Out of the Blue

You haven't seen any thing new here in nearly 3 weeks because I've been slogging through health yuck; nothing major but enough to dampen creative sparks. Being under the weather is NOT fun; we all know that. I seem to add mental fog & blues to episodes of physical dis-ease but don't imagine I'm alone with that. I'm grateful to Karl for taking good care of me and hope what I see on the horizon is light & lightness. Health is a blessing we so often forget to be thankful for until it's threatened.

I'm working on climbing out enough this week to do a bit of work before before we head off to spend Halloween with our favorite "Adybug"(her words). She will be celebrating her cousin/friend's 5th birthday with various pop singers, fairies, animals, ghouls and goblins. I managed to snag a wondrous "Fairy Grandmother" outfit for all of $1 at the thrift store yesterday (some manufacturer dropped dozens of bridesmaid dresses and Halloween is probably be the only time they will see light again unless some fiber artist grabs them for the yards of deep green & teal acetate). With this dress and a wand borrowed from munchkins next door I'm set to grant good wishes all around..... Don't we wish making things happen were that easy?

I never intended to be ​particularly political in my blog but I find myself increasingly agitated by and focused on the state of affairs in our country. I'm working on ways to express these ideas in a quilt. I am inspired by Kristin LaFlamme, among others. She is an army wife and is doing very powerful work about that role. Also check out Richard Wilkinson on Ted.

Last week I raised the guestion with my studio group as how do you know when you've gone beyond being influenced by and moved into "copying" another artist. I'd like to hear others thoughts on this issue.

Toward the end of getting back into the creative grove, I've done more indigo dyeing. This round included over dyeing some rather lackluster formerly dyed and/or printed pieces; batting & curtain fabric for a small quilt and more wardrobe updates. I highly recommend indigo for the later; it's a pretty instant change and covers even complimentary colors very well giving some nice grey blues. If you're tired of your wardrobe and have budget constraints this is a real lift.

Wishing you great new creative insights come "out of the blue".

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Masters & Mastering

I am the VERY lucky recipient of Masters Art Quilt vol. 2. I won it on Deborah's blog & all I had to do is leave a comment; an easy & enjoyable way to win a great book. Thanks Deborah & Lark Publishing for the inspirational addition to my library.

They are announcing Nobel winners this week and that got me to thinking about Masters in different fields. It is obvious that the way to get to the top is lots of work and practice. Some years ago I met a favorite artist/writer, Faith Ringold. She spoke of publishing her first book in her 50's and how many very talented people she'd met who weren't willing to do the necessary work to "succeed". She said if she had listened to her mother she'd have gotten a "regular" job years before and Tar Beach would have never been published which would be a loss for children the world over.

I always hoped that wouldn't be me, giving up before I found some measure of mastery or success but lately I've felt rather like a slacker. I can't change the past but I'm working on stepping up my game with more focus on my art quilting & related subcategories of art, as well as life in general.

I've recently jumped into Indigo dyeing and renewed challenging myself with Photoshop. Maybe I'll have some successes to post at a later date;maybe I should narrow down my interests but that's under consideration and yet to be decided. For now I'll say I hope I'm always willing & able to stay open to new challenges and be a lifelong learner. Maybe that will be my area of mastery. Connie Akers, Master Student. I figure I could do a lot worse. Now back to the machine where I'm quilting blocks that my great grandmother pieced before I was born. This is for my great nephew Danny & I will count it as a success in passing along family history.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm still not "settled" back to whatever normal is so I'm showing a few more pictures from Colorado.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Down from the Mountains.....Back to "Normal"?

We had a wonderful trip to New Mexico & Colorado. The best part was being cool and seeing green rather than the crunchy brown of home. I'm having trouble getting into any level of productivity. Soon maybe; the weatherman says tomorrow will be the last day of the 100+ weather. DFW area will have a new record of the hottest summer on record. I hope this is not the new "Normal" for Texas.

Wild Raspberries in New Mexico were just getting ripe. We also had great peaches & corn in Colorado. Yummy.

Mines have been closed for some time but the effects are still visible.

It was so nice to have morning coffee on the porch with this view.

That little white dot in the upper left is a house on top of a hydro plant at Bridal Vail Falls in Telluride. I was disappointed to miss George Clooney at the film festival but the views nearly made up for it.

We saw the first dusting of snow on Monarch Pass as we headed home. I have to be hopeful cool will come our way soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Birthday Weekend Extraordinaire

I am very tired but the feelings of joy & happiness from the weekend are still with me & should carry me thru packing for our trip tomorrow. Karlie turned 2 on Aug. 21st. For various reasons it was decided that rather than Karl & I going to Midland last weekend, they would come here for a party with friends & family.

We had sooooo much fun. One of my favorite things was having both kids and spouses & Ms. K here all together. It wasn't a sure thing until fairly late in the planning as Ashley has a new job at Central Market and they are in the middle of Hatch Chili Fest. She was able to make it and Friday night we all went to dinner at a family favorite, Mr. Chop Sticks in Denton.  Sat. morning we did the Akers traditional brunch of sausage gravy & bisquits.  When Elliott played baseball as a kid we had to have it every Sat. morning as he was sure it gave him home run advantage.

Back to Friday night.  Ashley is experimenting with ice cream, having taken a class last week & acquiring a new book on the subject.  OH MY GOSH! Did she succeed! Two flavors, Salted Caramel & White Chocolate Pecan along with Chocolate coating and homemade waffle cones! DELICIOUS.  She didn't have the means to make enough for the party so this was a special family treat. 

I don't want her to leave her jewelry making but we all think she could have another career in food. She also did adorable & delicious cookies for the guest's treat bags (by the way, Joann's Fabric has Martha Stewart tape so you can get it with a coupon for less than the Japanese version). Also, the dress & doll she made for Karlie were absolutely precious & much admired by everyone.   Those should be on her blog http://ashleyakers.blogspot.com/ soon.

The plan was that Karlie would take a nap to be "fresh" for the party. She knew something was up and didn't go along with that program, giving the big people some momentary concern but all went well after Aya (Tia Ashley) convinced her to get dressed in her party attire.  When I got back from picking up the cake & balloons she was over the top excited and that lasted until she collapsed into sweet slumber that evening.  For some reason I can't get the videos of her blowing out the candle here but it's really cute and on facebook. I was proud that she remembered her "thank yous" and shared toys and pinata thrashing with her guests. That one would have never let go of it's goodies without bigger kid hits as it was the largest, densest pinata I'd ever seen.

Years from now, Karlie will have to look at pictures to "remember" this celebration. I hope she will always know what's important. I made her a book in case she needs a reminder. Don't we all need to prompted occasionally? 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Little Things

The beginning of the school year has always been a kind of New Year for me. As a kid I always loved getting new supplies, especially the crayons.  Later when I became a teacher, artist & quilter, supplies often served as a form of inspiration.

Last week I took advantage of the school supply sale and found a new sketchbook with paper heavy enough for mixed media. I painted & decorated the cover so I'm all ready for new ideas.  I'm not heading back to school but hope our upcoming trip will allow time for new ideas in addition to escaping the Texas heat.  
Speaking of school, life will be quiter in the neighborhood with all the children gone most days. My neighbor, Raina, is eight years old & going into 3rd grade. For her birthday this summer she asked for and received a sewing kit. Her excitement is inspiring. I invited her to pick some fabrics from my stash and helped her with lessons on the machine. This is her first project.  Isn't it cute? I can just imagine what she'll be doing when she's 12 or 20.

Another small project that I'm enjoying is Priority Quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative http://www.alzquilts.org. /index.html. It's a very worthwhile fund raiser that I'd encourage every quilter to join. Our family has been touched by dementia and as the population ages more and more of us will be dealing with this issue. This is a small thing we can do to help. Here are my 2nd & 3rd quilts.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Blue, Blue Day

 It was blue here yesterday in a good sort of way.  It was still HOT so we (Michelle, Lu  & I) worked inside. This was our first experience with Indigo & I will definitely try it again.  I did a bit of silk, yellow wool, yarns, some vintage prints; a faded jjill knit shirt (not in picture) along with several pieces of previously dyed fabric that I stamped with soy wax. That was fun too. Michelle did a great asian jacket, overdyed shirt & yarn. Lu's antique laces really turned out dark and yummy along with her fabrics.

Very pretty stuff and on top of that fun we got a bit of rain last night.  Two good things in one day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Different Kind of Art

This is my latest creative project and the most recent improvement to the Wimberley property.  Actually I really only had a small part in the project. I drew our 3 signature oak trees on the steel.  Karl spent some very hot torturous hours over the last 2 weeks cutting and constructing the sign. The front we rusted with vinegar and the back is stainless & the frame is cedar.  I think he did a great job. Now to just get moved down there.

We delivered and installed the sign over the weekend and cooled off at Blue Hole in Wimberley. I sure wish we had that option here where it's even hotter. I heard someone is starting to count 105 degree days. There were rumors of rain in Gainsville today but I'm disinclined to believe it and wonder if this weather will ever break. I had to get out yesterday as my sewing machine isn't well. Doesn't that always happen when you've got lots of project?  I took it to the machine hospital with a promise for  Thurs. release. I kept busy inside today with house & studio pick up; laundry; office stuff; reading; and design work on Karlie's birthday surprise. Tomorrow I'm going with a friend to see "The Help"; I loved the book and hope the movie is good. Growing up in Houston in the 50's & 60"s the book rang very true for me.  I'll let you know what I think. Hope it's cool where you are. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rockin' It

A PS to the earlier Post.  Here's the link to instructions for crocheted rocks from Pearl Soho.  http://www.purlbee.com/little-urchin-crochet-covered/

A Break in the Drought

No, not the one over Texas.  The tropical storm we were hoping would bring rain yesterday fizzled in the face of the extreme heat and drought.  It's rather sad to think that it will take a big storm that will cause damage & distress to some to cure the ills of others.  I won't get into the implications for other things here (politics, leadership, economy) or I'll go off on a rant.

What has happend is that I had a bit of a  personal break thru yesterday. My friend Jo sent this quote  & then offered advise to "just get to work" to counter my resent funk.

"Esoterica: One of the main problems many artists have with credentialed shows is that the effort upsets the natural flow of personal process. The better artists I know get up in the morning, put on their pants, and go to work. Figuring out where the work is to end up and who they are as artists comes afterward. This is the brilliance and uniqueness of our job. Artists who forget this become caterers and polishers of brass. " Robert Genn
I haven't been thinking much of shows lately except to look at fees and decide I can't afford them but this did get me back to the studio.  Why is it we avoid that which has the potential to give us the most pleasure?  I got busy and went to work. (I admit it was late morning but I DID get into the studio.)
1. I Finished another cut up t-shirt top, ironed a stack of clothes & moved them to the closet.
2. I straightened up cutting table and picked red, green, gold fabrics for Elliott & Celeste's quilt
3. I finished quilting the sliver piece from the last post. 
4. I stuffed a pillow for the sofa that's been hanging around for weeks. 
4. I did my 1st Alzheimer's quilt for the DAFA challenge.
5. I crocheted my first rock. These will be gifts & pattern weights.

Today I'm designing the trees for the "Rocking Oaks" sign as Karl plasma cuts it; working on Karlie's birthday book & other random piecing and will do some more rocks during tv time. Karl is moving the hose around the house as it's our day to water and we may do a rain dance. In the meantime, stay cool  & do something creative that you enjoy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Around and around we go

 This first picture doesn't represent what's going on today but I've been trying to organize pictures in the computer (trying is key word for any tech activity around here). This was the record snow in 2010 and the picture reminded me that it won't always be 100+ for day after day after day. I'm also thinking MOISTURE which we need desperately. I am reminding myself that like the days, the seasons do pass from one to another.

What I have been working on is the 7' long circle quilt that I started last year. I put it away (for the 2nd or 3rd time) this spring when Karlie came to visit and wanted to play with "all those pretty colors". (For those of you not of a certain age that line is burned on my brain from one of Richard Scary's first books, Mr. Paint Pig). Reminder to self: find that book for Karlie as both Ashley & Elliott really loved it, especially when Dad did it in "whiner" voice from Sat. Night Live. Excuse the digression.  I'll blame it on the heat.  Back to circles.

They are all fused and ready to quilt.  This will go in the new house, most likely in our bedroom. I'm thinking with a metal building and tall open ceilings we'll need fabric elements to soften the space and and noise. That's my thinking and my hope is that we get the "new" house in the not toooooo distant future. 
Back to the present...... The circles are 4 layers of silks I collected over years.  The background is my "new fav" fabric, Pakistani cotton drop cloth from Lowe's.  I'm not sure yet how it will get quilted but I'm excited it's to this point.
Not to be ever be accused of wastefulness or cause my dear father & mom to haunt me, I have 6 sheets of this new "fabric" from the silk scraps.  I will also report that I gave away 2 big bags of scraps this week least I be accused of hording. The pieces are small but if anyone would like I'll share more.  Each of these new pieces is the size of my Teflon pressing sheet. One is getting quilted with a sheer background fabric over the batting and most likely will be a birthday pillow. I'm leaning toward using the others together with sashing to become another quilt. It could be a companion to the big one or go live it's own life. Finally, the little bits below came from the final trimming of the circles as I wanted them to touch rather evenly after being somewhat wonky in the insides. These bits are fused to the same cotton dc.  There is one more potential bd gift in a set of 9 circles on silk background. Those got  got set aside based on their colors.  I'm thinking these projects will keep me busy and out of the heat for a while. Hope you can do likewise.