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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Must Have

Okay, I know I am supposed to be quilting and/or packing for California but I was packing when I stumbled onto this gem of a book.....Wow! The author is a commercial artist/graphic designer but he talks to artist of all disciplines. Iwill just quote a short where near what goodies this book contains

"FOCUS. keep my eye on the ball. my head in the game. i have heard it all before. the zen masters say: when you eat, eat and when you sit, sit. they might also say: when you design or work on an illustration, design or work on an illustration. it is so basic it becomes all too easy to overlook: FOCUS. forget about lunch until lunchtime. forget about home until it is time to go there. do what i am doing when i am doing it. every path leads to exactly where it is going. FOCUS. breathe in, design out."

How cool is that....and that was just one of 311 pages. So get thee to a bookstore because reading it from the library won't be enough time to really digest and refer back. Here's the skinny: Creative Sparks by Jim Krause, published by HOW Design Books, ISBN 1-58180-438-5....$24.95 US. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Another Lavish Flower...disregard these are for Diane Posted by Hello

For Diane Posted by Hello

hand drawn lines ready to quilt Posted by HelloLife is good. My computer whizzo son, Craig stopped by to pickup his brother's hard drive and fixed my problems. I had my Norton set to block access to everything under the sun so now corrected....Stella and I are ready to send photos from Pacific Groove, Ronnie's name for Pacific Grove. In the meantime, here are today's photos of the slow handquilting that I should be doing right now. I will just add that I always free hand draw my quilting lines with a Chalkoline using white chalk only. Beware of colored chalk it can stain fabric permanently...ruined a quilt that with yellow chalk many years ago...never came out...even after washing.
The look of the hand drawn line is very inportant to me. It always looks different than stencils or ruler lines...somehow it conveys a different feeling. Alright, off to quilt.

P.S. Let me know what you think of the new template...feels cleaner to me...hope it is easy to read.

just a couple of lines Posted by Hello

handquilting Posted by Hello

GRR....picasa and handquilting

Okay so Stella, the new laptop, and I are getting along really well. Down loaded Mozilla Thunderbird for my gotta try this if you haven't used it....very cool. Downloaded Mozilla Firefox as my browser...absolutely love it....filters out all spam so secure it won't download plugins without your approval. Actually, loved both of the programs so much that I installed them on my desk top. Everything is working great......until I download Hello and Picasa so I can send pictures from Asilomar....and everything fell apart. Picasa works great except Hello is not co-operating. It won't let me sign in even though I am sitting here connected to my cable modem it is telling me that I need to check my connection because the network is unreachable. Will now we know that cannot be because all my emails are coming through...I am talking to you...and I downloaded the software from my browser. Any suggestions?
My consternation is hightened since I had pictures of my hand quilting to send you. Not like it is great shakes but was wanting sympathy for all the hours I have devoted and how little I have gotten down.....sigh. Now I don't want any comments about how fast this would be to machine quilt.....which I agree to...but you just gotta understand that a. I don't machine quilt well and b. I am still in love with hand quilting.
This is hard for an art quilter to explain since a lot of what we do is about production. But for me it is a dharma thing. I feel a real connection to the work when it is in my hands that I don't feel at the machine. You gotta understand a machine has an accelarator which means driving in my car. I have a standard five speed which is even more zoom. My daughter in law says you don't so much follow mom in a car as much as you chase her.
Back to the point, I have spent probably 20 hours hand quilting between shipping DVD's, printing class materials and general family stuff......and I am way behind..yikes!
I know there is no answer for this since I love the way I work and as far as art quilters go, we, the hand quilters are in the someone has to carry the torch. We cannot lose the art form or we will all be the lesser for man is an island, etc.
Enough bitchin', by the time I have posted this, I could have been quilting.....sheesh is there no end to my avoidance. This is the end I am off the quilt...well, maybe, Ronnie just walked in so I guess that means he wants to have some "quality" time. Here is my theory...we communicate far too is my going on the road that keeps us interested in each other because we don't have face the what to say dilemna each day. Now I am seriously finished bitchin'.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Same Lives, Different Paths

I just finished reading Melody's wonderful post on Easter and her life. It struck me how much our lives followed parallel lines then converged and yet, we are coming from opposite directions. So I just wanted to chime in on another note to show how diverse and yet how much the same our group is. I was brought up in the Southern Baptist church...I do live in the buckle of the Bible belt....was baptised at was a very integral part of our community life. Now here is where we part company.....I:
got married
had a baby
got divorced
went to college
got two degrees...Eng Lit and Philosophy
discovered Zen Buddhism and yoga
did theatre
got married again
had more sons
quit theatre
mother in law suggests we learn to make quilts
start working at quilt shop
start showing in multi-media fine craft shows
write book
end up teaching all over the world
still make quilts
found what I was looking for in the non-dualism world view
made lots of incredible friends who I appreciate more and more all the time
Amazing we both end up in the same place from different paths. So I rejoice in our diversity and celebrate each day we share together.

Friday, March 25, 2005

New toy....and the vote is in

friends and fellow quiltmakers, this is being sent to you via my new laptop....woohoo! Stella,the computer's name, and I will be off to the Empty Spools Seminar at the Asilomar state park in Pacific Grove, CA on the second of April.....but this trip we will not be out of touch. Stella and I promise to send pictures and prose during the seminar.
Also,thanks to everyone for the comments on the whole cloth piece. I am going to do it and maybe enter it under alias....just kidding...but wouldn't that be fun. Mel, I wish I could do what you suggested but since I don't own a whiff of dye anymore, I am stuck with this one piece of fabric. Maybe in the future I will return to painting but let's see how this goes.
On the home front, Thomas, the youngest son about to be lawyer, came home for the Easter holiday.....and thanks to him the new computer is ready for travel. Sure hope he becomes a lawyer soon...everyone needs one these days. Now if I just had one that wanted to be a doctor...sigh.
Here's wishing y'all and fun and productive weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Should I? Posted by Hello

Contemplation Posted by Hello This is a piece of drapery weight sateen that I dye painted back in the early 90's maybe even late 80's. It is obviously too widely spaced to cut up and put into anything. Also too strong for a background fabric for applique soooo I have been contemplating doing a whole cloth quilt out of this fabric. My question: Is it a strong enough composition to stand on its own?
Granted I would do groovy quilting and add special touches with embrodiery stitches but this is very different from my usual style.
So dear readers, what do you think? That would be if you are out there....
My inclination is to go for it but when you have developed a recognizable style people expect that from you....why do I care? Art is all about doing what you want and what you are compelled to do...right? Anyway let me know what you think.
On the home front, my beloved actually had the nerve to tell me that our pantry was in a mess. Well, you know what that means...I will never again clean the pantry ever. I think that is an appropriate response...not an over reaction in any possible sense of the word. Besides, my new laptop arrives sometime tomorrow. I am still working on the Pilgrim Roy challenge and I need to start a piece to feed the soul. Pantry is way low on this girl's priority list. Sheesh, there is food in it..what more does he want?
Amid all this, I need to get ready to go to California for the Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar. My winter clothes are mixed in with my summer clothes. I have new clothes that are still in the shopping bags..yikes! Still haven't unpacked the clothes from Canada...I know it's sounding ugly. I must apply myself to this wardrobe disaster immediately....well, maybe tomorrow, Scarlet.
Looking forward to your feelings on the fabric I remain faithfully yours in a messy house with a untidy pantry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Better Day

Amazing what a difference a day can make. I actually started the quilting last night...shipped out a batch of DVD's this morning...working on second batch right now...and my move into the 21st century, I bought a Sony Vaio online yesterday afternoon. How cool is don't even have to leave the house to spend thousands of dollars. No cheesy laptop for me...oh no. Gotta go to the top of the line. I got the new Vaio that is 1" thick, weighs 3 lbs. and is about half the size of the original and best of all is red. Now my plan is to buy a projector and webcam to do demonstrations in class. Another day, after my next gig..can't justify spending too much money unless it is on myself and not my business.
About the pictures....Vanity thy name is etc...when Melody saw the yarn lady winding my new yarn and thought it was me I about died. So the pictures are to assure Mel that I still have the chichi hair and a waist line.....still under 120, Mel but must admit I have been doing no exercise and really missing it.....which means I am up to 119....and eating everything in sight. Even baked an apple pie for how wifely can one get? Of course, I had to put struedel topping on the pie because I love cinnamon....and of course, we had to eat it hot with cheddar on top. Is there any other way?
However, tonight is the night....back to weight training class tonight at six. This will probably be the death of me but gotta get back in gear. My goal of rowing a million meters this year is shot..there is always next year. Still have until the end of April but doubt that I can do 200,000 meters between teaching and trying to get some work done.
Been thinking lots about all the ring members...checking in on their reading what they are doing, especially enjoyed Karoda's interviews. Anyhoo, got me to thinking about how this is all a dance. We work in concert with each other, inspired by each others moves, and end up with something akin to a whole piece of work. Now that I think about it, isn't that what our lives are? Ebbing and flowing all in one direction....learning, discovery and creation. Whoa doggies, she goes philosophical!
We all know what it is really about....being thin, having the best toys, and making lots of money. Whew! Glad I got a hold of myself before I lost touch with reality. I mean who would want to be spiritually connected to their inner self when they can be shallow, superficial and sophomoric?
Back to work before I really get myself in trouble.

Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of yourself? Posted by Hello

Just for Melody Posted by Hello

Monday, March 21, 2005

Basketweave shawl in progress Posted by Hello

Avoiding quiltmaking with new yarn Posted by Hello

Close-up of pinning and basting Posted by Hello

Backing is thumb tacked to wall, batting and quilt top pinned to backing Posted by Hello

Quilt attached to wall with thumb tacks Posted by Hello

My new yarn being wound from hank to ball Posted by Hello

Life Gets In the Way

What have I been doing? I read Melody's blog faithfully and she is painting like crazy. Not only have I not been posting but I am not at all sure what I have been doing. So here's the update for what it's worth. We had the memorial service for my mother-in-law. I managed to barely make it through the eulogy. talk about surprised...something I could do in my sleep...speak before a crowd of people...and I could barely get it done. Guess it went okay...everyone thanked me for what I said...and told me how lucky I was to have such a great relationship with her. Guess some of us have less than positive relationships with our mothers-in-law....ya think?
So now life goes back to normal right? Nooooooo! I have orders for DVD's that need to be sent out..working on them day and night.....want to keep the customers happy and myself on track but it is taking an incredible amount of time. Time I should be quilting or doing something..who knows what.
Like most of us I have great avoidance gambits.....I go to the local yarn shop.....purchase some incredible hand-dyed yarn and start and shawl. Yeah, that will get lots of quilting done...woo hoo! Then guilt sets in along with panic so I start to baste the challenge quilt for Paducah. I baste standing up with the quilt on the wall. Since this keeps me from having back problems, I thought I would share some pictures with you.
Now with all this guilt I want to add that I am not guilty enough to clean up my house so all hope is not lost. I still have the mind of an artist, just not the motivation yet...but I promise faithfully to quilt this week. There it is in black and white so I gotta do it right?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bittersweet Return from Canada

Grid class from left to right: Marilyn, Niccoli, Beth, Joan, Ana, and Eileen Posted by Hello
Finally home from Canmore with lots of pictures I thought you might enjoy. The location was beautiful and the Sugar Pine Company that runs the conference were the best. However, during my absence, my beloved mother-in-law of 24 years died peacefully in hospice care. The memorial will be tomorow and I have decided to deliver the eulogy. She was a very special lady...this is my way of honoring her.
On a brighter side, our son Chris, returned from his tour of duty in Iraq on Thursday. I haven't talked about this much but it has been a hard year knowing he was in harm's way. Now his return at the time of our loss is truly bittersweet.
I have to say that my work and teaching has been a refuge....thank you to all my students during the past year for making my life rich and inspiring. That's all for now but I hope you enjoy the pictures of Canada and the work of a great group of quilt artists.

Eileen's finished piece, without grid added, started from sub-cut strata Posted by Hello

Ana's grid study using sub-cut strata Posted by Hello

Joan's finished piece started with old seminole piecing Posted by Hello

First day of Grid class Niccoli begins cutting up a finished quilt Posted by Hello

The falls where Marilyn Monroe shot River of No Return Posted by Hello

Banff Springs resort, built near a hot springs during the 1800's, where we had an incredible evening Posted by Hello

Ana's ivy leaves in progress Posted by Hello

Close-up of Lori's calla lillies Posted by Hello

Close-up of Barb's circles Posted by Hello

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