Friday, January 29, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

Not really of course. But so much at once, sheesh! Even Rexie is upset about it. Living in a borderline seasonal temperate rain-forest we are definitely used to having a lot of rain during the winter season. But this past few weeks was pretty extraordinary. More than 10" in just a few days and then 5" more spread out over the remainder of time. That plus the high winds made for a lot of excitement around here.
Trees were down and hanging in the power lines for more than a week. I ended up with power lines on top of my car at one point. Hey! Exciting! Yikes! The boys had two days off from school. During finals week even. We have "Rain Days" instead of "Snow Days" I guess. Too risky that everyone can get to and from school
safely, oh and that the power stays on for the whole school day.

Dark dramatic skies while in the eye of the storm.

And a small rainbow flare just for some color.

The saddest thing was the loss of our almond tree. It just fell over during one of the big windstorms. Luckily it missed all the cars and didn't block the driveway. It leaves quite the hole in our landscape, I really miss it.
I don't know if it was weak and fell over due to being infested with this stuff or not. Or because it was just such an old tree, at least 20 years old, not sure how old almond trees usually live to.
The worst thing is that it was about to burst into bloom. Such a glorious sight that I shall truly miss. I've got a bunch of branches inside in vases to hopefully catch a few last blossoms.
Now for some replacement tree shopping. Shall we go with almond again, or try something different?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Journal Quilt Project

This year I'm participating in a new journal quilt project. This time around it is the: Six Word Memoir weekly journal quilt challenge. I've done monthly ones for several years now, but I liked this idea a whole lot, especially the addition of the six words. I'm sure that it will be a challenge every week to sum up in just six words and a 8"square quilt. The idea is that at the end of the year I'll have 52 small quilts with some memoir content, should be a cool record of the year to see all together in one place.
My first six words are:
"Eventually Holes Will Appear In Life".
The red fabric is a Crate&Barrel napkin that we've had since we got married way back in 1990 (yes that makes 20 years this year!). I guess it has been washed a few times too many since the teeny holes first appeared.
The words are embroidered with my Janome, the green/yellow under the words is interfacing that has been marked up with Sharpie markers. Underneath at the edges is a scrap of a fabric I really like, a green yellow geometric print.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Nap, Interrupted

What is Zelda-The-Wonder-Dog to do when her afternoon nap at the top of the stairs is so rudely interrupted?
And who is that creeping menacingly up the stairs?

She's up now, to guard the landing from incoming foes.

He hunkers down and makes a growly face, her guard hairs go up at attention and she growls in return.

The rush that she expected happens and she is ready to block his sneaky maneuver.

It ends in a head to head pushing contest, both with stubborn iron wills, and strong necks, who ends up winning this time?
The photographer of course, who got a real kick out of documenting her silly dog playing with her silly boy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Museum Inspiration

I am finding inspiration in strange places these days. Can you guess what this is?
Yes, it is the back of a massive computer, a big mass of wires. I took these photos at the Computer History Museum last weekend. We were there for a birthday bash for a friend of my husband's and got to go around and look at the exhibits. They have everything there from abacuses to Atari's to super computers. Really interesting and fun to see things I've either used (Atari tape drive and Pong!) or that I've read about (Eniac). I'm glad someone thought to save all this stuff and put it on exhibit.
This terminal looked so much like a face to me.

But this was my favorite of all. It looks like Japanese art to me, or just an artfully arranged pile of hanks of sashiko threads.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Manipulating Fabric Again

I've been working on finishing the quilt I made with the manipulated-Frankenfabric last year, it is turning out really great, (I'd show it to you but I am entering it into a show) and so I have have been wanting to try the technique again. But I don't have much polyester, absolutely no clothing (bleah, I just hate wearing it) and not much in the way of yardage in my stash. Polyester is the only fabric that the shapes will stay in permanently, so that's what I have to find.

So I had to do a brief search for a few more polyester skirts to deconstruct and manipulate into new and more interesting shapes, so off I went to the local Goodwill. These three pieces of clothing will be taken apart, and put through the process I described in this post last year, the green is a polyester skirt with a polyester lining and the floral is a polyester skirt with a brown polyester lining, the black/white one is actually a very large polyester tunic. All together they cost $11.

The last (and only) time I tried this fabric manipulation technique, the polyester was just a solid ivory/beige, so it will be interesting to see how the patterned fabrics look once they've been shaped into a 2D form with 3D shapes. I'm guessing that the strongly patterned black/white one will be hard to see the shapes in, but who knows. That's the fun of this manipulating fabric technique isn't it? I am planning to use a variety of objects this time, instead of just marbles of various sizes.

The rubber-banding process will be a good exercise for my right-hand to undertake. I'm slowly working towards getting strength and dexterity back up to my usual levels. A lot of movement and gripping still really tires my hand out, so I'm doing this in small batches as I catch up on the last few episodes of LOST before the new season starts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Squids Will Be Squids

Have you noticed that squids seem to be talked about a lot more than usual lately? Lots of tv shows feature them, how hard the giant ones are to research, giant squids vs. giant shark monster movies, news stories about squids taking over in unusual places because of the warming oceans. etc. etc. This book pictured here, Squids Will Be Squids (Picture Puffins) was one of my favorites to read to my boys when they were younger, it is an absurdist, highly sarcastic, wry approach to Aesop's Fables type of stories.

I find them endlessly fascinating and always have to be pulled away from the squid tanks at aquariums. The way they move, the inventiveness of their body structure, their delicate strength, all of it makes squids one of my favorite creatures to watch or learn about.

I didn't ever consciously realize it, but I have always wanted clothing with squids on it. This realization became an imperative when I recently found some fabric that has some lovely blue and gold squids on an earthy/rusty orange/brown background from Heather Ross.

With the contrasting kelp forest fabric it will make a great: The shorter tunic on the left.
Time for trying out a new pattern. I had good success with the last Indygo Junction pattern I tried, so here goes.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Vacation That Was Deck

This post is kind of like one of those "What I did on my Christmas Vacation" reports we had to write when we came back to school in January. Remember those? One of the last things we need to finish on our several-years-long home remodel is the deck off our second story bedroom. Up until very recently there was a fabulous set of french doors opening onto....nothing. Or a verrrrry long first step.
But not after this vacation! We didn't go anywhere or do anything more exciting than seeing movies, except get the deck building project underway. The big wood pile was delivered on Christmas Eve morning, bright and early from our local lumber yard.

Any and all visitors to our house during this time were encouraged or bribed or commanded to help move this huge stack of wood from the driveway to the backyard.

Leverage calculations and estimates were bandied about. Different schemes for hoisting a 24' long beam up high enough and stably enough to get into the metal holders at the top of the 10' deck supports were debated. Finally, a method was worked out involving the car floor jack and many interim strips of support wood nailed temporarily in a ladder like fashion up the posts. Quite fascinating how they figured it out. I was absolutely no help whatsoever. My mind doesn't work that way, not 3-d capable enough somehow. My mind is however really good at finding things that are misplaced, so that was how I supported the deck building team. Locating their gloves and hammers and duct tape and receipts from the hardware store so incorrectly purchased items could be successfully exchanged.
Yes, the teenager with prior building experience was a HUGE help. He worked on a house building project with a friend of ours a couple summers ago, so he knows his way around construction stuff more than the average teen.
And our younger teenager was also helpful and enjoyed hanging out working with dad and learning more about the manly mystique surrounding the use of power tools. One of his Christmas presents was a new red tool box with his own screwdrivers, etc. as he has been in trouble frequently this year for using dad's tools and not putting them back in the correct location.
So now when I step out my french doors there is a tiny temporary plywood platform. Which is really something and really cool, because it is a great view from out there. There is enough room for exactly one deck chair.
I have found that I like having my coffee out there in the morning sun. And I'm plotting and planning how to change the garden around to best viewing advantage from the new deck.
The next step of course is the deck boards and railing. Which we are ordering by the end of the month. And it won't be Trex apparently, as that stuff is somewhat more defective than advertised and they aren't supporting their warranties unless they're sued. hmmm. The local lumber yard guy told us all about it and sure enough, we're going with another brand. But it will be a recycled plastic type of "lumber" not wood, because we know how much upkeep wood is, even if it is redwood like our other deck.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Utilizing The Unusual

I'm challenging myself to use a lot of different materials this year in the art that I create. I know, I know, I already do that, but it is my intention that I will be make it a real emphasis this year. I'm interested in exploring what else I can incorporate into the work that I already like to make.

One of the first things that caught my eye to use is this braided fiberglass rope which is used as a gasket for woodstove glass. We had to replace our woodstove glass window as it got cracked by a falling piece of wood. Unfortunately the initial measurement made for the replacement was off by half an inch so it didn't fit. This rope comes with a sticky side made for adhering to the glass so that it is sealed into the woodstove door. It wouldn't have worked a second time, so when we got the glass recut to the correct side we got some more of the rope. And I snagged the used once only and not-sticky-enough-anymore rope for my unknown-at-this-time artistic pursuits.

I may use it as a surface design tool, perhaps as a new rope-wrapped stamp. Or it may be a design element, part of a border, maybe an edge treatment, or cut up into pieces for embellishing. We will see what I come up with!

Coiled up like this it reminds of a cross between my favorite cat Hobbes who was this exact grey color and a garden snake. She would have made a great snake as she was one of those cats that love to spend a lot of time weaving their way in and out and around and through your legs. I am glad that snakes are not in actuality furry. Because that would just be weird, scales are strange enough.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gifts of Silk

One of the few good things about having a husband that travels as part of his work is that he occasionally has time to go shopping in far off and exotic places. Lately he's been going to China a lot, and has gotten to know the city he stays in and went off and found a....Fabric Store! Specifically a Silk Store. So I got a nice big package of these luscious silks for Christmas. They're all different types and weights in colors that I really really love. I have no idea what they'll end up in, but I love that he knows I love silk, and that he knows what colors would make me happy.
When he goes back to China later this month he said he'd go get more if I wanted anything in particular...Hmmm, do I?

What a question!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Handmade Gifts Are The Greatest

Way back at the beginning of December I received a really cool pen roll made by Jaye. She describes the making of it here on her blog. She chose really beautiful colors didn't she? Cheery, yet calm too.

So fun and some great new pens to use and tie it up with a pretty organdy ribbon.
Then for Christmas I received from her the matching journal that she made, look at how cool this is!
The slightly padded journal cover with piecing and applique. You can read about how Jaye made it her on her blog.
Trees everywhere, I love it! And in the inside backcover one of her very clever handmade by labels.
Thanks Jaye, I really love both and can't wait to start using them!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Finally, A New Year

Hey Hey! Happy New Year!

Here is how we look now, my family and I. See how short I look now? Funny how things change in just a few years isn't it? My husband said he tilted his head so that you couldn't tell that our oldest is now actually taller than him, pretty sneaky, huh? This is the picture we're using as our card this year, which I suppose I shall be sending out as a New Year's greeting card now.

Did you chose your word for the new year yet? I like to do it at random, putting the slips of paper into a bowl and chosing one. Last year's word was "Blessedness" and this year's word is Physicality. Well that will be an interesting emphasis and change for me. Hmmmm, wonder how that will affect my art making?
Here is a shot of last night's beautiful Full Blue Moon. It had an enormous ring (or is it a nimbus) which I wasn't able to capture.And here it is fooled with so that it actually looks blue.