Monday, December 28, 2015

Silent Meditation: French Knots

I don't know about you, but I have inherited many family items that hold deep meaning. Many I have had for many, many years and all carefully stored away. Over the years, I have taken out the handmade dresses for my husband's sister and I never knew what to do with them until recently. I also know that my sons do not and will not have any interest in them so passing them along is not an option. But before I share with you my plan, I want to tell you a little about the baby whose cloths I own because this little girl truly impacted my life even though she died long before I was born.

Carolyn was born just a little more than a year after my in-laws were married on July 30, 1942. She weighed more than nine pounds. My mother-in-law was at that time a tiny woman- five feet tall and less than 90 pounds. The birth was long and from what I was told Carolyn suffered birth trauma. My mother-in-law should have had a cesarian. Carolyn died on November 1, 1942. My mother-in-law grew up on a arm in a small town in Kentucky. My father-in-law was from Gary, Indiana. They met in college and after they married moved in with my father-in-laws parents. Just two days after Carolyn was born, her grandfather died.  I think all these experiences effected my mother-in-law more than she would ever admit. Getting any kind of professional help was frowned upon then and this opinion never changed with her. She was not an overly kind or giving person so when she gave me Carolyn's clothing, it moved me deeply. I want to honor that gift although I am not sure my mother-in-law would approve. I think she would be content to just having them in a drawer. I am not.

I have been playing with resin (more about this in future posts) in the hopes of getting all my "vices" in one room. My plans are to dip them in resin so that they are stiff and possibly paint them. I am still undecided about adding ceramic wings. I will be asking your opinion once I get to that point.  I am adding the knots for texture (which I love), but also to express the "knots" of grief. It has made me think a lot about my mother-in-law who so often made my life miserable. I always tried to remember that she was broken. It was not always easy.  I can only hope as I go down this new creative path that I can create something that will have meaning. What do you plan to do with those precious things that you keep in a drawer?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Even Broken Crayons Still Color

"Even broken crayons still color." Author Unknown

My grandmother liked to say that bad things come in threes. Who would know that I would have three years--too many friends dying, two jobs lost by my husband (currently looking), deaths of my mother-in-law and my dad, shingles that seem to never go away...Well, you get the picture. The other day I was truly ready to just throw in the towel. What was the point of making art? Then I got an email from Janet White telling me what my blog meant to her and an email from a gallery asking for my ceramic work. Next, my husband who I never thought cared about my blog told me I needed to start writing again. So here I am. I now have my quilts and my funky ceramic work in a new gallery in Naperville--Artezanato Studio. I am feeling optimistic and have a creative plan in place. Life is good!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


You have to believe the buds will blow, 
Believe in the grass in the days of snow;
Ah, that the reason a bird can sing
O his darkest day he believes in Spring.
                              -D. Malloch

My bronchitis and sinus infection has not gone away (more than three weeks) even after a round of antibiotics. I cannot remember the last time I was this ill for this amount of time. To say that I am not a good sick person is putting it mildly. It looks like I am back to the doctor tomorrow. 

I was feeling particularly low on Friday so you can imagine my surprise when a box arrived at my door. I didn't order anything and did not even think that it could be for me. Diane Dunder, you sure know how to make a girl cry. Thank you, thank you! I am speechless. Your wonderful piece of artwork now hangs in my office. I am deeply, deeply touched by your kindness and plan to pass it on. 

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts on teaching at the local quilt shop. I have decided to release the place with love. Time to get healthy, regroup and figure out what's next for me. "We are all here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead." -Will Rogers

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To Teach or Not to Teach, That is the Question

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I go to my friends. - Virginia Woolf

I love teaching and I have come to realize that I am good at it too! While I continue to lecture, guilds simply are not booking teaching gigs so after being asked several time by a local quilt shop, I agreed to teach. They too have been having difficulty getting people to sign up for classes. It is a traditional shop so I had my concerns. I was to be their first "art quilt" or as one of my students so wonderfully called me "not boring." I have offered three classes and all three have gone with at least four students. I have loved reconnecting with my local quilt community, opening people to new experiences and thinking outside of the box. My evaluations have been incredible. I love sharing and getting people to know that they are capable of creating something unique. I understand the role of a teacher teaching in a quilt shop (get your students to support the shop). In past lives, I have managed a quilt shop and taught in several. I know this shop is much more focused on selling sewing machines (the money is there) than classes. Shortly I am going to have to decide whether to teach there again. I am struggling. Twice the time I asked to teach was cut. The last time I taught my samples were hang above the classroom door with huge thumb tacks and one was upside down (there are sleeves and labels on all my quilts). My class time was not only cut but changed. I found out by checking the website. I did express my disappointment. It was not really dealt with at all. I am suffering from a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis (the universe did not hear my cry of "uncle") and the anniversary of my dad's death is approaching so I am asking your advice.  I feel too emotional lately and tired.  Do I continue or do I let it go? 

As for the quilt shown, it is one that I started many months ago and because of the class I taught I was inspired to finish it. It gave me an opportunity to show how you can alter fabric with fabric markers. It is also square but I am too tired to reshoot it. Life it too short!  Might just be my answer too. Hugs.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Okay Universe- Uncle!

There's a fine edge to new grief, it severs nerves, disconnects reality--there's mercy in a sharp blade. Only with time, as the edge wears, does the real ache begin. --Christopher Moore

The last two years have been tough ones. I had such high hopes for 2015 and still do, but the challenges have begun. My husband is once again out of a job--no funding for the start up company where he was employed. Another casualty of falling gas prices. Add to that a series of rejects for my group C.L.A.W. (Crossing the Line: Artist at Work) and personally. Groups asking prices for teaching and lectures only to go silent.  I could add more to the list but you get my drift. I started feeling particularly stressed until a few days ago when I finally yelled aloud, "okay, universe uncle!" I felt a certain calm. I have spent time writing in my journal and realized that maybe I could recognize my way out of past patterns rather than repeat my way out. I am back to being mindful and I am back in my studio! And while March came in like a lion and the ground is still covered with snow with no sign of spring, I feel hopeful.

As with so many times in my life, serendipity has played its part. In my sculpture class, we are learning about the Japanese practice called kintsugi, which means "golden journey" in Japanese. Kintsugi is the art of fixing broken ceramics with a lacquer resin make to look like solid gold. The trues makes us question the complexity of aesthetics. How can something that was broken be more precious, more beautiful? And yet, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. So this made me think, can I envision myself like a kintsugi vessel, make precious by my brokenness? I'm going for the gold!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reflect, Reduce, Renew

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth. -Leo Tolstoy 

I have started this year out differently. The plan is to go through my entire home and reflect on the things that I own. To make sure that I am surround by things that give me joy.  So  I will hold every object that I own and if it does not make my heart go pitter patter out it goes. 

I want to reduce what I own so that I am not burdened with stuff. This was easy when we moved every two years. Tougher now that we have lived in our home for 16 1/2 years.

And finally I want to deep clean and renew my environment. Once this process is done, then I will decide on longer term goals. So far I have cleaned out two bathroom closets and my entire kitchen. Yep every cabinet and my pantry and it also now also sports new shelf paper. I even went through my spices! I cannot tell you how uplifting this felt.

One New Year's day, I read the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo. This book is a best seller in Japan, Germany and the UK. She did not share anything that I did not already know but it was an excellent reminder. Her point "when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear of the future" has given me much food for thought as I go through the process.

My dad died in March. He promised many times that he would leave things in good shape because his legal guardian did not. Well, my dad did not live up to his promise. I know that want to be surround by things that give me joy and I certainly do not want to leave my children with the burden of dealing with my stuff. How about you?