Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surprise! Surprise! I'm Still Alive!

Hello everybody! Just when you thought it was safe, I am back. Thanks to everyone who has emailed, asked about handmaiden in classes and called to see how things were going. It has been a busy summer. I haven't been making quilts but have been teaching tons. I also got to spend time with most of the family.

Pictured above from l to r: Jace, Gaia, Jene and Jayden. Gaia is Craig's daughter; the rest of the gang belong to the happy couple below,
Chris and Jillaine. Gaia and I drove to San Antonio to spend a week with another Swain family. We stayed up late, went shopping, painted did I get wrangled into that?

Here I am with the gang. Of course, we are eating. What else would I be doing?

Other points of interest: I found a way to get some time off from a retired husband. Y'all will get a kick out of this one. I stared playing poker. Yep, you got it. NoLimit Texas Holdem.....what fun. Like most people my age, my parents taught me to play cards when I was a child. Gin rummy, 5 card draw, later canasta; in college, hearts and spades, penny ante poker and finally bridge. Sooo, it isn't surprising that I would love poker. Plus it gets me out of the house anytime I want.

Am I giving up quilting to play poker? Hmm, probably not but for now since I am traveling so much, all my creative energy is going to the tables.

Off to California Monday.....hope you had a great summer!
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The "Top of the World, Ma" List

Okay, having dated myself by quoting a James Cagney gangster's a partial list of things to do from my beady, little mind.

If I was on top of the world:

No one would be hungry. There would be food for everyone on the planet.

No one would be thirsty. Clean, pure water would be available from the smallest village to the largest city.

No one would be homeless....self-explanatory.

Now that the big problems are solved....on to smaller things.

Age would be respected...youth is truly wasted on the young.

There would enough hours in the day to do what you want.

Work would be something you do not who you are....and we would do less of it. Time away from work would be just as important as time at work.

No one would be judged by the house they live in, the car they own or how much money they have....but instead by "the content of their character." Thank you Dr. King.

Literature, theatre, art and science would be just as important to society as making money.

There would be 90% less marketing and 100% better products.

The FDA would actually regulate something....strange idea, no?

The EPA would actually do something to stop and clean up the environment.

Our national budget wouldn't be in the red without someone correcting it. Does your bank allow you to over draft billions of dollars? Not that a good shopping trip wouldn't be fun.

On a more personal note:

Sweet Ronnie would be Mr. Fix-It. In my dreams...

My house would magically clean itself. Imagine, some sort of "Bewitched" trick, where you wiggle your nose and the house is all shiny.

Busby would not shed long, white hair on every surface. Found a cat hair on the microwave yesterday...eeuoow.

I could eat anything I want and not gain a pound. Oh, to be a teenager again!

That's partial list...pretty radical....or except for the personal things, fairly sane? What do you think?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Out with the Red and in with the Old

Taking a bold move yesterday, the best colorist in the world, Tanya of Toni and Guy fame, decided that my choice to go back closer to the natural color of my hair was a good thing. After all, change is the only constant. Also, it would be interesting to see just how gray I am.

Certainly there is still some red on the tips, but look at the roots (shown below) and note how brown they are. Tanya is aided by another of my favorite people in the whole world, Belinda, the only stylist who touches my hair. After a new color and a great cut, I fell like a new woman.

Now where is Jack, the personal trainer, when you need him? Too bad, that Toni and Guy doesn't have exercise equipment in the salon. What a concept!

Personal aside: Karoda got it right....also an email from Jan S.....the cliche is Home is Where the Heart Is. I am working on the big "o" and partial big "h" now....still more to come. Thanks ladies!

Also to RealMe....thanks you for the kind words in your comments. I tried to find you and your blog but couldn't get there. My apologies for taking so long to thank you.

Back to work! Son Craig, my resident computer guru, is coming over on Mother's Day to get me out of a jam again. Note that he is not coming to lavish me with gifts for being his mom, but because I am in a desperate situation.....the "can't figure out this @#$% program, why won't this blasted computer just do what is in my head" situation. So glad he was really, love him to little pieces and don't know what I would do without him.

Here's to all my sons and their ladies who are mom's. Thanks for being a part of our family. Wish I got to see more of you.
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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Warning! Woman at Work

Spent the better part of the week in the studio...see results above and below. Started on Monday with enlarging the first of the designs for the cliche series...the thing with the hearts and the big "m." Started to work on it that day and have results.

This is a very different series for me but will lead to some more abstract letter forms soon. As a former calligrapher and a lover of all things pen and paper since childhood, this seems a natural progression. I love the lines of letters and the brushstrokes of calligraphy....sigh! To me they are the purest form of language....communication as art.

While I have been searching for the next image that interests me, I have done tons of photography and painted numerable that a word? Of course, as always, the next thing is something you have always loved. You just have to get out of the way so that the message comes through your "little grey cells."

While the "big m" piece may mean nothing to you now, when it is finished I will reveal the cliche....all will be revealed. Or if the title happens to be obvious, let me know. Then I would know the idea is working.

The below photograph is a background I am piecing for the "re-do" of Last Leaf. No I am not in my blue period but searching for enough fabric to do a winter palette. My faithful Viking #1 had to visit hospital while I was gone but is now home resting in place. Fully recovered and ready to go to work.

I would sew today as well, but editing calls. Amazing how an attitude change can also change your energy. I am either going full tilt or not moving at all. Learning to love both states is the hardest thing for a creative person but they are both valuable if you honor them.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Quiltmaking as Art/ Home from Paducah

Finally near the camera cables to post a few of the snaps from Paducah. Please note no quilts....again out of respect for the quilt makers. All of the photos are published in a great catalog from AQS if you would like to see who was in the show.

Being in Paducah was truly an experience of renewal for me. Coming home is good especially if you come home with a great sense of renewal and appreciation for quiltmaking as an art. Truly, it doesn't matter what style, traditional or non-traditional, each quilt carried with it the spirit of the quiltmaker.

We are so lucky to have textiles as an art form. Long associated with women and utilitarian needs, quilts have not just come into their own.....they have always been an artistic expression for women. Now artist in other media are turning to textiles to express their artistic needs and images.

So no matter how you work, bless those who started our tradition and those who are still carrying that tradition into the future.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thoughts on New Rules.....Technique vs. Style

Diane D, asked in a comment on the New Rules post how judging categories based on technique instead of style would effect the judges task. Thanks, Diane, great question.

For myself only, it is good news since I hand quilt. Having said that, there are a few categories that are already judged in this same way. Group quilts and mixed techniques categories both include a variety of styles from traditional to non- traditional. Also currently in pieced and appliqued categories at the AQS show there is no separation of traditional and contemporary styles.

Only the small wall quilts were divided in Traditional and Non-Traditional categories. answer Diane's question: The judges have already been faced with making decisions in very much the same way as they will have to make next year.

From a judges perspective, the cream always rises to the top. A great quilt stops you in your tracks from the very beginning. Visual impact is so important. The next step is there attention to detail, is the quilt well made, regardless of technique?

Letting things shake out and waiting to see what happens.....all comments are welcome.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Rules

This is the year of new rules for both Houston and Paducah. If you are in Paducah, you can pick up the entry form and see for yourself. For those of you who will have to wait, here is a brief synposis.

Large Quilts (called the Bed Quilt Category

1. Hand Quilted
2. Home Sewing Machine quilted
3. Long Arm Machine Quilted
4. First Entry in AQS show...not necessarily your first quilt, just the first time you have entered....any technique
5. Group....any technique by three or more people

Handmade Quilts any technique, pieced or appliqued but the qilt top must be stitched by hand. Long seams, binding and backing may be stitched by machine.

Large Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of a Pictorial category...any technique

Small Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of Pictorial

Young Designer Quilts

any technique in unique interpretation, open to ages 18 to 35

Miniature Quilts

any technique max size 24" w; 24" l....all aspects of quilt are in reduced scale

Libby Lehman, Mary Sorensen, Yvonne Porcella

January 5 postmark deadline. All entries must be on cd rom

That's it in a nutshell. Complete rules and forms can be received from www.AmericanQuilter. com or by writing to AQS, P. O. Box 3290, Paducah, KY 42002.

Get those needles flying.