Friday, September 28, 2007

State of My Studio

I've been working on organizing lately, combining sorting, keeping/tossing, using, redistributing. General stuff shuffling. I think of it as shuffling my creative deck to get myself going on a creative track again. A good way to mark time until I feel well enough to actually dive in and make something.

This first picture shows the room I'm still using as a studio (it is meant to be the media room/guest room, once the downstairs remodel is finished!). Right now I've got a recliner and a rattan couch/ottoman in addition to my studio stuff. The room is large enough to have this comfy furniture, and I find I actually use it. I like to be able to get out of the chair by my sewing machine/table and flop on the couch to sort magazine images, or bead (great light by the big window). It is also nice to have this room when other family members join me while I'm working in here. Homework can be done, books can be read in the recliner, etc.
The only thing I'm missing having is a design wall, but I don't want to muck up my newly painted walls with tack holes. Maybe I'll have to make one of those flannel covered homosote boards to use. hmmmmm.

This is a view over to the closet while sitting on the rattan couch which is under the window. You can see the recliner on the right. The closet doesn't have the trim or a door yet. But it is filled to bursting with my boxes of fabric and supplies.
The larger tubs have batting, upholstery fabric and larger items, including all the decorative stuff I like to have hanging up in my studio. It is weird to be in a room with all my stuff, but to not have anything up on the walls but one calendar. I feel like if I start hanging things up, then I'll never be moving into the "real" studio room downstairs. But it has been awhile now!

This is how the recovering Zelda the Wonder Dog looks with her cone on (still). She still has some wounds healing, but no more stitches at least. I have to make sure to scratch her head since she can't do it herself (poor ol' girl)

Here is the wall o' stuff and ironing board across from the rattan couch. This is actually really organized now . I know it looks higgeldy/piggeldy, but compared to "before" it really is (at least to me!).

This concludes the studio tour...Back to work now!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sewing in the Works

Not quilting, but sewing nonetheless! I can't show you the quilt I made this week for the final Journal Quilt exhibit at the Houston International Quilt Show, rules and such. But I promise to post it when we're allowed to. I'm really happy with how it turned out, and am pleased with myself for getting and keeping my act together just enough to complete it.

Anyways! I made a cover for the futon that my son is keeping in his room as a flopping couch. It used to be his mattress, but now he has a real one from Sleep Number (quite pricey, but he sleeps much better now). He chose the fabrics from the great cheap website, arranging them on the comparison page they have. I have just enough left over pieces to make some pillows to go with. He really is into blue these days, and these fabrics go very nicely in his blue-walled room. And then we are working on converting a queen sized couch/bed frame we no longer use, down to a twin size that will fit the mattress and his room. He's rather excited about chopping up furniture!! Something about using a chainsaw possibly...

And finally, I've got a coat in process for the challenge/contest on my QuiltMav friend Diane Harmon-Hoog's business Quilter's Threads. It is the Baltimore Coat from Purrfection, I'm making it in a brown lightweight ultra-suede type fabric, it is shiny and smooth on the wrong side, so it will be unlined. I don't really need a super warm long coat here in California. The contrast is the same fabric, but in green, my plan is to machine embroider before assembling the coat.. The race is on to see if I can finish it by Sunday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Soft Light

Here is another bathroom self portrait for Self Portrait Challenge, last one of this months' challenge. I'm always interested in reflections of a flame, and there is something in the lighting of candles that changes the image.
I also thought the reflections in my glasses and on my camera were effective in this shot.
Note: A dirty mirror works better for this type of photo to give "extra texture". This is the other bathroom in the house, not the one I used last weeek with the glass cleaner!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Collage in Space

Well, as you can see, I've been doing a lot of collage work lately. Which is good, I love doing it, and participating in these collaborative themed journals for the last year has been great for keeping me doing creative stuff even when I don't want to...But I am missing the quilting, so I better get myself back on track with that!

This journal's theme was Outer Space.
I found a great image of a rocket as well as a poem that went perfectly with the idea of shrugging off the terrestrial bonds.

I make a lot of pockets and then insert cards, I like how this changes the look of the page when the card is removed. When you take this card with the moon and stamped words/DNA, you see a depression in the water where the world is falling (or coming out of) into.

This page has a hologram at the bottom (it says 2001). Also included is an astrological correspondences card, a poem about space and some outer planets photos in the background.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

As Seen In the Powder Room

For self portrait challenge this month, we're supposed to shoot our self portraits in the bathroom. This was the first idea I came up with.

And now my mirror is clean!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Julie, Lately

Whatever have I been doing this past week that I've abandoned my poor ol' blog???

Dealing with the savage attack of our neighbor dog on my dearest Zelda the Wonderdog. She is healing up now. But it wasn't/ isn't pretty and neither was all the self-inflicted drama and angst. pshew! Very hard to recover from!

Washing fabrics and cutting charm squares for my tumbler quilt:

Oh and Wow is this ever addictive: Blogger Play it shows the photos being uploaded in Blogger, real time, just streaming by, really gives a picture of the worldwide usage of Blogger. Cool! I just leave it up and glance at it every now and then, and bam, you're around the world in Israel, or Chile or Japan or Alaska, etc...
Hmmm, buying more patterns! Guess I ought to make up some of these, right? I think I'm reaching critical mass on the pattern stash. One is for cool pincushions (thought they'd make good gifts). And yet another skirt pattern, called the Taos Skirt, it has really cool options for the hemline that I'd never thought of, or seen before.... Both from Diane Ericson's ReVisions.
Taking Alex to his first TaeKwanDo lesson. He's so excited that he broke a board with his bare hand his first day. He is absolutely focused and fierce during class. Having a big brother who is bulking up due to the physicality of football practice requires some self defense skills...
Watching my son Zach at freshman football games. This is our first away game at St. Ignatius up in San Francisco on Saturday. This is a great sport for him because he is so fast (he ran track last year), needs something really active to keep him focused on school, and a good way to make new friends at high school. Also, he is the third tallest on the team, but he is kinda skinny compared to a lot of the other guys on defense, so he's learning how to play mentally first, technique is so important when you don't have the body mass to just blunder around.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Garden Journal

Last September (wow, a year ago!), I made this journal for a year-long collaboration with other artists from the Traveler's Hart group. Each person created a journal based on a theme of their choice, and then sent it out for travelling from artist to artist, gathering art on every stop.
It has been such a joy to see the journals come through every month, as they fill up with all this evidence of artistic inspiration and enthusiasm.

My theme was The Healing Garden. I can't wait to see what everyone has done with my journal!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Constructing Little Ainia the Amazon

Here we are with another group project that I signed up for and completed this year, through RedDog Scott's Traveler's Hart group.

We were all given the same two vintage photos to work with (courtesy of Lunaea), and each artist also received a fill-in-the-blank storyline.

Mine was: "From the top of ______________, Little Ainia could see ________."

We each completed an art piece, as well as a text card with our line filled in. So that with the whole deck of art/text cards you could make a story. It was really fun to see what each artist did with the Little Ainia character, you can see them all here on the Capolan website.. She has such a fierce, yet child-like expression, I wonder what kind of adult she grew up to become??

To begin I printed both of the pictures out on silk, I wasn't sure which one I was going to work with. The size of the art card is 3x5", so I usually do my art in a 6x10" format and reduce by 50% when copying for the swap. I start with a piece of backing fabric, a slightly oversized piece of fusible batting (Hobbs 80/20), the printed photos and my current working bag of fabric scraps.
I begin making a landscapish kind of setting. The mottled grey reminds me of the granite domes of Yosemite. I liked the grey/black leafy forest print for setting her image against.
I tried out both versions of the photo, but settled on the pointing the spear at you version. The city fabric worked for the city down below the granite dome, and oh look a giant flower compared to the size of the fabric.
But the background of the photo is too big. After trimming it down a bit I'm satisfied and begin quilting.
As this was striking me as sort of graphic novel-ish, I used black thread to outline and stitch, as well as do the edge of the quilt.

This is the text card that I came up with.
My storyline says:
"From the top of the granite dome, Ainia could see the fabled city of flowers."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Throwing Stones

This small quilt was made for a unique collaboration I took part in where a group of artists each took a page from a children's book "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" by Chris Van Allen . We each used the illustration and title/sentence as a jumping off point for a piece of artwork as well as a story. This was so fun to do! And the results were quite awesome as a completed piece of collaborative art. The organizer of the project bound the copies into an actual book.

One of the rules was that we had to add something to the color copy that we were giving to each artist. I scanned one of my favorite rocks on my scanner, and then printed out the number required on card stock. Then I sewed them on to each color copy.

It was interesting to me to see how different the full size color copy of my quilt (about 8.5 x 11") looked from my actual quilt. The reflective quality of some of the fabric used versus others, the shine of the rayon threads actually reflecting a bit from the glare of the copier light, etc.

Here is the beautiful illustration from the book.

Another rule was that we had to use the sentence that is in the book, somewhere in our story. My picture was titled "A Strange Day in July", and my sentence was "he threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. "

Here's my very strange story!:

A Strange Day in July
By Julie Zaccone Stiller

Based on The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

Kurt wasn’t happy about the long car trip to the family reunion. “At least I get to meet my cousins and it is at a lake,” he consoled himself. As the city gave way to small town, which gave way to farms and then finally to forests, he resolved to at least try and have some fun. After all, it was July, which is when a kid was supposed to run wild.

His aunt welcomed him into the large cabin on the lake, introducing him to her two kids, about his age, Jenny and Walter. Walter was a slightly bigger kid than he was and he lived there, so he got to be in charge. Jenny shyly allied with Kurt against her big brother, “He’s always bossy, so watch out,” she whispered. Walter made it clear right away their agenda for the day. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand, the squares won’t even notice we’ve split,” announced Walter.

Jenny and Kurt followed him out the back door and down the pebble strewn pathway to the sparkling lake. There were small plants all along the lakeshore, some sodden logs and lots of rocks. Actually, it was mostly rocks, the flat rounded kind that are perfect for skipping. “I can do eight skips, watch this one!” boasted Walter. He skillfully tossed a rock and it skipped six times. “Ha! Walter that was only six” chirped Jenny. “Well squirt I’m just getting warmed up.” Walter retorted. He flung another rock over the still, smooth surface of the water. This time it skipped seven distinct times. “He can’t really do it,” Jenny stage-whispered to Kurt. “Awwww, enough of this bull,” Walter angrily threw a third stone. It bounced across the water’s surface eight times. “See, told ya.”

He went silent as the third stone came skipping back towards them out of the water. He seized the stone as it landed on the lakeshore and threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. Jenny and Walter and Kurt looked at each other with widening eyes. “Did you guys see that?” asked Walter quietly. “Uh, huh” they nodded in reply.

Slowly, together they turned back towards the lake. A wall of grey fog had appeared out of no where. Blocking out the view completely, it was just about where the stones had sank. As they watched the fog approach they heard a faint susurration, sibilance and some quiet rippling in the water. The three children stood frozen, just as still as the lawn gnomes out front on the lawn.
Transfixed, they watched as a dripping, small, green horse appeared. It was pulling a small stone encrusted chariot right out of the water towards them. They were amazed to see that the chariot was occupied by the biggest, ugliest rockfish they’d ever seen. “Ssssoooo whhhoooo waasss throowiiinggg zeeee ssstooonesss?” the fish enquired.
Walter replied as if in a dream, “Uh, I did.”
“Youuu musss commmee withhhh meee” announced the strange creature, with an air of finality.
Walter walked slowly and smoothly towards the chariot, almost as if it was a magnet and he was a piece of iron. He stepped in and sat down with a squishy thud. The fish made a gargled cluck, click sound and the green horse circled around and began to ride back under the lake’s surface. The water swallowed up first the horse, the chariot and lastly the very top of Walter’s head. Again they heard the susurration and sibilance and the rippling water. The obscuring fog began to withdraw.

Jenny and Kurt were finally able to move. They shook their heads, trying to clear the horrible image from their minds. Kurt asked quietly, ‘Jenny, what just happened?” Jenny dazedly answered “My brother’s just gone.” She shook her head once more and scooped up some stones. “I’m going to throw stones and make that fish come back right now, and bring my brother back.” She tried, but no fish appeared. And no brother. Kurt tried too, but to no avail.
“They’ll never believe us,” sobbed Jenny. “I know they won’t, what should we do?” gulped Kurt.
They ran back up the pathway to the cabin and found Jenny’s mother. She looked at them with a bemused grin after they told their fantastic tale, “Oh really, a fish huh? Well I guess Walter will miss the barbeque, too bad for him.”
Jenny and Kurt looked at each other and mouthed “told you”.
They trudged back down to the lakeshore slowly, not wanting to do anything now. There in the spot where Walter had last been standing were his glasses, set atop three flat, round, perfect-for-skipping stones.
The End

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Box of Green

I'm participating in a round-robin swap based on the ideas in the very cool book about collaborative art journals, True Colors. Each artist chose a color, or group of colors for their "theme".
This first picture shows the top of my "book", which is actually a gigantic metal Altoids tin, about 6"wide by 10"high. I covered the top with fabric and lots o' glue, and beaded on some Ultrasuede which also got glued on.
Here's a closeup of the beads. These word beads are cool, but they have a different word on the other side! So I had to trap them so they wouldn't switch around and say something really weird...
Here's the bottom of the box, which I used matte gel medium to glue the tissue paper and magazine photo on. I liked how the matte gel looks when it dries all the way.
This is what the inside of the tin looks like. On the left is the sign-in pocket (a library pocket), with green cards all ready for the artists to sign and alter. The cards on the right are cut to the shape of the box, wrapped with instructions in ribbon, to help get them in and out of the box.
This is one of the cards that I did. I've been saving this picture for a long time, and finally I had a chance to use it! Something from Alaska native ceremonies out of National Geographic if I recall correctly.

I won't see this box for about a year as it travels around the country through our group, it is exciting to get a new book to work on every month and to imagine what everyone else is doing to my box of green!

Saturday, September 08, 2007


No fainting, but actual quilt content here!
From the July CQFA meeting's workshop (which I led), here is my completed quilt: Sticks. Comprised of commercial cottons, flannel and some of my handpainted fabrics.
It is about 10x11"

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Collages Inspired by Words

Here are a few more of the collages I did in the project with my sister friend Rue. We chose words for each other and did a page, then swapped and did the other persons' word.
This first one is Fortitude.
Here is Joy.

And here is Mystery. Watercolor pencil.
"Mystery is the point of being here, being alive, being human, and being connected." - Me!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some Hot Chocolate

How do you like these colours? I can never reign in my excessive love of back-to-school supplies, so this was one of my purchases this year.

I'm using it to write down my responses while I'm reading a very interesting book: Soul Lessons & Soul Purpose. It is a little "out there" (even for me), as it is partially channeled. Not sure if I really buy into the whole channeling messages thing, but the way the thought-provoking examples are shown and the questions to ask yourself, things to work on,etc. are really valuable.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She Still Shops by the Seashore

While picking up the spanking new single hole throat plate (sounds slightly risque' no?) at the local Janome dealer, I scored some threads on major sale, three machine cottons on cool wooden spools (future doll bodies I bet!), and one starry blue Halo. No, not Halo3 related. (Sorry, feeling bugged about buying violent video games lately!).

And a Diane Ericson pants pattern. I really was captured by the details on the bottom of the pant legs, and also that they are cropped. I feel like I can get away with wearing cropped pants since I'm so tall with long legs. Plus my ankles and calves are my best feature at this point! Note the name of the pattern "The Capitola Pant", and yes indeedy I purchased them in Capitola. (A town just south down the Pacific coast from Santa Cruz).
And if I happen to *actually* make these up in *real life* (as opposed to just in my ever hopeful and optimistic imagination), I promise to show you a picture!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fabric Swap Goodies

These are the hand-printed fabrics I received in the swap that I recently participated in, fun, aren't they?!
Screen-printed succulents by Bitter Betty, the wonderful organizer of this swap!
Potato masher printing! Who knew there were so many shapes of potato mashers?! Made by Lee at Dancing Crow Designs.
We call this one "Vlad", expecially since the woodblock print is on the blood-red fabric made by Lindy.
Batiked lions with natural dyes by Margaret Wilson.
I know I should have ironed these, but it was 83F in my room, at 7pm, and I just wasn't up to turning on the steam iron! So, please just imagine them perfectly flat with no creases whatsoever. Thanks.