Friday, December 28, 2007

Diner, my shiny, shiny love!

I have been at the easel the past two days, having a ball! I'd been missing painting. I forget how much I love it. And I love how quickly a painting takes shape. I'm trying to get a few things done for the "Cups &..." exhibit I'll be having at the local Barnes and Noble Cafe' in February. I have quite a few things done, but have some more that I've been wanting to do. So I've been painting this "Diner" painting (16x20", water soluble oils). It's inspired by Martin Sexton's song, "Diner," which is my favorite 'get-my-feet-moving' song. You may remember it from a Scrubs episode, where they can't stand still while listening to it, either!



Anyway, here's my painting. It's still quite wet, which means it may not be finished. If you see anything that could make it better, let me know. I am quite open to critique ... as long as you don't just come right out and say, "Wow, that was a royal waste of time - and it STINKS!" If you feel that way about it, let me know more gently, OK? I have one of those tender artist's egos. Can't help it. I just do.

And, by the way...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fast away the old year passes...

2007 is almost a thing of the past, a part of our memories. But ahead is looming 2008. Right now it is the unwoven warp,
the unwritten page,
the blank canvas,
the unsung song,
the endless beauty of POSSIBILITY.
So much to anticipate...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Someone's in the kitchen with Grandma...

I've been in the kitchen all day, but I haven't been alone. I had my Grandma Maisie, in the form of her much requested Fudge recipe, and my Grandma Crown, both with her traditional red devil's food cake, and the smell of baking bread. Both of my grandmothers are no longer on this earth, physically. But I have felt very close to them today. My paternal grandmother (Grandma Maisie) taught me to make the fudge she was known for making. And my maternal grandmother always had some "red cake" in her freezer for visitors, and she NEVER served 'store-bought' bread.
So, today I made fudge, one batch without nuts, and one with, for those of us who always 'feel like a nut.'

And I baked a red cake, which will tomorrow be cut in half; half frosted in Grandma's traditional brown sugar frosting, and the other half with white cream cheese icing. Both halves will be topped with sprinkles, star shaped candles (2 on one, 4 on the other) and vintage plastic cake figures. We are having a double birthday party tomorrow evening, so these cakes must be ready!

And, because good home-made bread for breakfast toast is a handed down "grandma's duty,' I baked a loaf of apple cinnamon oatmeal bread. Mmmmm, can you smell it? It promises to make the best toast!

Thanks, Grandma (both of you). It was good to spend time in the kitchen with you again!

As my Christmas gift to you, if you click on the photo above, I believe you can get my Grandma Maisie's never-fail fudge recipe!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Miss K!


Today is my grand-daughter's fourth birthday. Time; how does it do this so quickly? I know everyone thinks their grandchildren are the best/sweetest/smartest. I also happen to know that it is true, in my case. This little girl is destined to be a Bright Light in the world, no matter how dark it may become. A part of my heart has resided in her from the moment she was conceived. She took the rest of it, the moment I first saw her. It will always belong to her, she cannot escape my love.

The lower right photo is of a small 9" square tapestry I did of her, called "Suite: Katie Blue Eyes".
(Of course, now I'm in trouble: her little brother's birthday is next week, and I've not yet woven him! But he'll only be two, so I have this year yet, as she was two in this tapestry.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa, baby,

Here's what I want for Christmas:
I want there to be Peace in our hearts.

I want there to be Peace in our homes.

I want there to be be Peace in our communities.

I want there to be Peace on Earth.

Is that too much to ask for? I know, it's the same wish list I have every year. Maybe this year?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

OH, MY WORD!

(...which is a phrase I would have sworn I never used, until I heard my grand-daughter imitating me by saying it.)
Look at what came to me today and stunned me out of my lethargy:
(click to enlarge)


So today, I've been hustling! And bustling, too. I've been hall-decking, and am aiming for at least one "Ooooh!" per grandchild. I'm putting out ALL of the "Christmas crap-a-rama" ( which is what my son has been known to call it). The weather has cooperated, and it's very Christmas-y with 4" of snow. The snow laden tree branches look like a second layer of lace through my sitting room window. I've shopped, I've shipped, I've decked-as-if-my-name-was-Martha. Maybe I'll be back in Santa's good graces by the time the day is over... or maybe I'll just be in debt, and tired.

At any rate, happy, happy holidays to all you fellow elves!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More pictures from cutting off...



As I said, most of the photos I took yesterday didn't turn out well. But I did get tolerable pictures of two tapestries a couple of my workshop students brought to show(though they do not show the tapestries near as perfect as they really are). Carl brought the lovely blue night landscape, and Sally brought the red boat house one. Not only were they both beautifully done, but mounted in lovely ways, as well. I can't believe how quickly the students I have had in this past year are weaving wonderful things! It took me much longer to produce anything that nice. They must have had a good teacher - but, hey wait a minute, since I'm self-taught, I had the same teacher they have! They must just be quicker learners than I was.


Here are the Four Seasons tapestries together 'publicly' for the first time:
(I can't get them very big, but you can click on them to see them larger. And the Fall one is not as good a quality photo, as it was shot with indoor, not professional, lighting. Will get that done after slits are sewn, etc. Scroll down to the previous post to see the Fall tapestry alone.)



They are each 56" high, and the two outside ones (Winter and Fall) are 36" wide. The inner ones are 33" wide. Not a small grouping! If anyone has any ideas of places where I can exhibit them together (after the February exhibit), PLEASE contact me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And she's off!




The cutting off of the Fall tapestry was a nice event. And it's great to have it done... kinda. The 'what-now-blues' always hit me after I complete something that has so consumed my life for such a great length of time. Of course, 'now' I do have plenty to do, as I've not decorated or shopped or even thought of the upcoming holidays at all yet. So, that will be a good diversion from the now empty loom.

I had a dozen or more students and friends here for the cutting off. I forgot to set my camera to flash, so my pictures didn't turn out very well. But, after everyone left, I hung the tapestry up from a velcro hanger, and got a pretty decent shot of it. Here it is, fresh off the loom, so not blocked or finished yet:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Life is what happens...

...when you're not at the loom 10 hours a day! Believe it or not, I do other things besides weave. I lead a singing group of women at my church, and we have had several performances this past weekend of the holiday music we've been singing. We sound pretty good, and we have a lot of fun together!



It has snowed here the past few days, and my headache is going, going, though not completely gone yet. It's supposed to snow again tonight, so maybe that will end it for good. The snow is beautiful! We get so little snow, I had to go out (in my slippers even) first thing this morning to take some pictures in the garden.



More away-from-the-loom-Life to happen today: cleaning, catching up with laundry, shopping and mailing, and baking a bit for tomorrow's cutting off.

Weavers, go here to see a very clever holiday weaver's video, called The Twelve days of Weaving.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

To the top of the porch, to the top of the...

tapestry! Isn't that how it goes? Well, I have just finished the upper border, except for the hem, which will weave off in a flash tomorrow, right before I clean the studio. I'm convinced that the tradition of having a cutting off was started so that tapestry studios were cleaned up after a tapestry was completed. It's a mess... Cast aside butterflies flying all over the place!

I looked at the upper border and my reaction was like Steve Urkel's: "Did I do THAT?"


I felt so horrible while I wove the entire upper border, I could only focus on the tiny spot I was weaving at any given moment. To have thought of the whole thing would have totally overwhelmed me, and I'd have given up and gone to bed. I am happy to report that it snowed last night, and after the clouds broke, so did my migraine! So I have much to be thankful for!

Here's a picture of the whole upper border. I'll post photos of the cutting off after it happens. I'm pretty anxious to see this tapestry. I have yet to see the whole thing myself! I only see the 10 or so inches that aren't wound around the front beam at any one time.


And now... I am going to bake cookies!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

You are invited...


Woo-hoo! I'm finally ready! So, if you are in my area of the world, come cut the final Seasons tapestry, Fall, off the loom with me. The cutting off will be at my home studio (the two windows on the upper floor of this house in the tapestry) on Wednesday afternoon, December 12th, at 3:30 p.m.

I have just a small portion of the upper border to weave, plus the hem. It WILL be done. Amen, and amen!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Best laid schemes...

...You know what Robert Burns said about them. They 'gang aft agley'. Such has been my week. I had hoped to be posting by now that the weaving of this Fall tapestry was completed; that I'm now cleaning and baking and decorating the house; that the cutting off is scheduled and You Are Invited. BUT (ahhh, these dang big Buts!) those plans did gang agley.

I hit my head on the car getting out of it a few days before Thanksgiving. It wasn't a big hit, but it was in a sensitive place, and that plus a weather system that has been hanging over our valley, has triggered The Migraine That Won't Go Away. I've been to the doctor twice. I alternate weaving with lying in bed with either a pillow or a cold pack on my head. Yesterday I went back in and got 'better drugs.' Am I telling you this to generate your sympathy? You bet I am!

I have not given up my goal. I AM a stubborn beast. But it is hard to think with either a mind-confusing headache, or on narcotics. And it is hard to weave a tapestry without thinking. Here is what I am looking at today:


I have 4 inches left to weave. It is still cloudy, both outside and in my head. I don't know what this upper border will look like when it's done, but Done I must get it! (Did that sound like something Yoda would say? Gracious, from Robert Burns to Yoda. Now that's a leap one will only make on mind-numbing meds!)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dogged determination!


I have reached a point where I just think, "wow. i can't do this anymore."

This isn't the first time I've reached this point. But, on this tapestry, today, it has become a VERY strong urge to overcome. I want - very badly, mind you - to do ANYTHING but be at the loom weaving. I would scrub toilets, mop floors, do laundry, Christmas shop for Pete's sake!

At this point, only dogged determination keeps me passing the weft through the warp. Only commitment to the deadline makes me keep looking through the warp threads to try to see what to do next. Only teeth-grinding stubbornness makes me pick up another ball of yarn and wind yet another butterfly (my six-thousandth today). I cannot let myself think that, after I do this for several more hours today, I'll have to do it again all day tomorrow, and the next, and the next...

I will weave. I will finish. I will walk away from this computer and back to the loom. Sometimes stubbornness is a Good Thing.

What is this mess...


...and what am I going to do with it? This is what I'm looking at today - ALL day. And I have to make sense of it, and weave it. This is the cartoon of the upper border, showing through the warp threads, which I am keeping my nose to (as in, this is my personal 'grindstone') all of today, and tomorrow, and the next day... until it's done! I look at it and weave, then I look at it and think, 'what on earth is THAT supposed to be?' That's when I decide to get up from the loom, stretch and take a 5-minute coffee or computer break, then back at it.

I have about 9 linear inches to weave, plus a hem, before I can cut this tapestry from the loom. It's 36" wide, so that's about 360 square inches of complex, visually confusing tapestry work. And I'm trying to meet a December 15th entry deadline. So I want to cut off next week. Hopefully Wednesday afternoon, if I'm not cross-eyed and unable to stand upright by then. I've been weaving about 3 hours so far today. It looks like I'll be at it much, much longer, if I'm to get the 2 linear inches I need to complete today done 'before I sleep.' Miles to go. Miles and miles and miles... well, in tapestry terms anyway. In reality, it will be only 72 square inches that I need to weave today. Sigh. Like I said, 'miles to go before I sleep.'

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Help! I can't stop!!!



Thanks to Mary Ann and Jamie, I now am having way too much fun with this "Through the lens" Photoshop play! I did up a couple of photos that I took at our cabin over Thanksgiving and a holiday still-life I set up last year. Must...get...to...the...loom...!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Play, play, we play all day...


Ha! if only that was true! But I did do some Photoshop play today, inspired by one of my favorite Bloggers. This effect is supposed to simulate old photos taken through old lenses. I did the same photo of Possum that I posted at the very bottom of the previous post. Pretty fun, and not as simple as you might imagine. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The beginning of the end...


I enlarged the cartoon for the upper border of the Fall tapestry yesterday, and have begun weaving it. I was whining to my husband in the evening about it. It went somewhat like this:
Me: "I feel like I've been weaving and weaving and I'll never reach the end of this tapestry!"
He just looks at me with that "haven't I heard this before?" look.
Me: "These Seasons tapestries are actually like weaving three tapestries; the bottom border feels like a complete tapestry, then the body and side borders which make up a large separate tapestry, and now I feel like I'm starting a whole new tapestry with the top border!"
Him, summing it all up succinctly: "Well, isn't that what
you should have expected when you started
putting those elaborate borders all around everything?"

Don't you just HATE it when they sum things up so succinctly? It leaves you with nothing more to say.
So now I am beginning the third tapestry in the Fall series.... ummmm, I mean I'm beginning the upper border.

In other late breaking news here on the home front, the light is changing to a winter light. It is so noticeable in a house with deep eaves. As the sun gets lower in the southern sky, it really comes in my sitting room window. We keep our house pretty cool, as the upstairs collects the solar heat from the windows, and the heat rises up there. There can be as much as a 10 degree difference between the upstairs and downstairs, and 10 more degrees when you go down to the basement. Possum, our old cat, seeks the warmth for his old, cold body that has little fat on it anymore to keep him warm. He lies on the radiator when downstairs, but the past few days, he has been following the sun in the sitting room, finding the warmest spot and only moving from it when the sun moves away from it. Not such a bad life for a grumpy old guy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creepin' up to the top...

I have reached the point where I have to enlarge the upper border design for this Fall tapestry. The upper border of each of these pieces has three parts; the two corners, and the center arched part. Each of the seasons tapestries has a bird (or an egg-filled nest, in the spring tapestry) in the upper left corner. Birds have long been a big part of my tapestries - but that's another (long) story. The upper right corner always has some plant that is symbolic of either the season or the tapestry's theme. So, in this fall tapestry, the bird will be a woodpecker. Specifically, it will be the William Morris woodpecker from his Woodpecker tapestry (image from Wikipedia). I chose that because of the gifts I have received in inspiration from Morris's work, and from the Arts and Crafts movement. I wanted to include something from Morris in this, the last of these tapestries. The upper right corner will have an apple on a branch. I have a lovely crab apple tree in my yard, that both blesses me and curses me in several seasons. The apple is a symbol of the theme if this piece. As in the mixed gift of the apple (or 'fruit') in the Garden of Eden (not the Kansas one, but the original one).

In the center arched area, I have decided to put my house with all the fall trees that surround it. I love my house. It is a true gift to me, a gift of comfort and history. But it too can be a mixed gift; as an old house it also gives us much work, expense and occasional worry. So, these three elements on the top border will contribute to the theme of the tapestry, which will be called "The Gift," and will also add to the theme of autumn. Here is the photo I'll be working from for the house part:


I'm shooting for a December 15th cutting off - which means I need to have the weaving done by the 10th or so, so I can clean house and put up holiday decor before then! YIKES... to the loom, lady!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Procrastinating...


Today I will go back to the loom. It is always so hard to begin again! But I've already said that, haven't I? So here I sit, at the computer, uploading photos I took at the cabin while we were there for Thanksgiving. I took over 100 photos, most of them of sunsets on Wednesday evening. I've done that before too, haven't I? It's hard being original sometimes. But the sunsets at the lake are always stupendous! Maybe it's the altitude there. And the reflections help, too.

When we went up on Wednesday, it was quite warm, mid-60's, even up there. It has been a record-breakingly warm fall here. And dry. Even the cabin (which keeps the night temperatures, so is usually very cold when we get there) was warm. But after our sunset drive around the lake, the wind began to blow, and by morning there was about 2" of snow. About time! There have been many years that we had to ski in to the cabin for Thanksgiving. It stayed cold, so maybe it will really turn into a Colorado winter after all.

The cabin birds can always see us coming. A chickadee came to the window as we were unloading the car, then went and sat on the empty feeder. It landed on the filled feeder as I was hanging it. I swear she said, "It's about time you came up to fill this feeder!" They, and the jays, had it empty by evening of the first day. The next day we re-filled it, and there were the hundreds of chickadees, a half-dozen or more huge Steller and Pinon jays, nuthatches, and a woodpecker(!) spending their time trading spots at the feeder. This is the feeder, and probably the same (or related) chickadees and jays from the Winter tapestry.

I did what one is supposed to do at a winter cabin. Sat in front of the fire and knit a bit, looked at a few magazines, sketched some, did a few crossword puzzles, and enjoyed my honey!
Now, the cup of coffee is gone, so I must quit procrastinating and get back to the loom!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Be ye thankful...



Another tapestry artist who knew I loved blank books gave me the sweetest little handmade Italian blank book a number of years ago. It is 1.5" wide x 2" tall. The cover is marbled paper, and the inside paper is a lovely cream colored paper that accepts watercolor well. I have been using it as a gratitude journal, to note things that I often take for granted, but am really quite thankful for. As this week is Thanksgiving here in the US, I decided to post a mosaic of a few of the pages. These are tiny, tiny sketches, so are not very detailed. I love my little book. It feels 'precious' in my hand, so makes the things I remember to be thankful for 'precious' to me as well.

In addition, I am truly thankful to God for my near-perfect husband, my amazing sons and daughters-in-law, my two totally perfect grandchildren, our parents and the rest of our families, our comfortable home, my supportive friends, my work, etc, etc, etc.... I am quite blessed, packed down and overflowing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Creative minds are rarely tidy...

We've probably all heard that, or seen it stitched on a pillow, or whatever. That is true - not only of our workspaces, but of our minds, emotions, and moods. Creative people are notorious for untidy moodiness. I have been wearing my grouchy pants all week. My husband has had my sitting room, aka my "sanctuary" all torn up in a re-model. Banging, crashes, and mild curses, and worse yet, "Oh,oh!"'s have been going on in the room next door to my studio for the past few days, and weeks. As I've been trying to work. Now that it is finished, it looks nice, and I'm trying hard to get the grouchy pants off! Sometimes they seem to be quite a tight and comfortable fit, however, so it might take some real effort on my part. The holiday season is coming, too. So I must beware of exchanging the grouchy pants for my seasonal wardrobe, which has a great pair of Scrooge pants in it!
Well, I have reached my 4"/week quota this week (in spite of crabbiness and distractions), so will spend the weekend cleaning house. That ought to make it all better - if not with the 'process,' certainly with the 'product!' And I'll bake cinnamon rolls... my grouchy pants are too tight for cinnamon rolls! They always come off for cinnamon rolls!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The face of Fall...

Childe Hassam said, "The man who will go down to posterity is the man who paints his own time and the scenes of everyday life around him." I like that. Because it is always my intent to show those moments of everyday life that are good; that are worth remembering and savoring. There is so much to see that is not good; that we want and try to forget. Sometimes it seems that those horrid moments stay with us longer than the precious good moments. The Fall tapestry I am weaving is all about the gifts of excellent moments; of accepting them, holding them close, and then of finally giving them back. How is one to say all that in a tapestry?

Well, I have the face and head done. It is not 'a vision of perfect beauty,' as one always wants to create. But it will do.

I have spent as much time on it as I can. I have to move on; to finish the rest of the tapestry body and the upper border (which isn't even completely designed yet). I've also woven 10 of the 12 leaves along the side borders, so I'm "movin' on up." Slowly, but surely!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Diversions...

...but still working. I just needed to get away from the loom a bit. Facing that face has become a bit much. As I drifted off to sleep last night, I determined to un- and re-weave the whole blasted thing! But this morning, I reconsidered. So now I do have the face woven and am working on the hair and the areas around the head. I'll probably post the lot in a day or two. But, as I said, I needed a creative diversion.

In February I will be having two local exhibits. The first is an invitational fiber exhibit at the regional Art Center. The other artists are quilters, etc. I plan on exhibiting the four Seasons tapestries, in additional to several other pieces.

The second exhibit is my own exhibit at the coffee shop in our local Barnes and Noble, which has changing exhibits every month. The exhibit there will be of cups, and coffee/tea related pieces. I'll hang my few small tapestries that are appropriate, and the small cup paintings, plus a few more that I have either done, or hope to do before then (if I'll have drying time for them). But I've also been taking a few photos that I really like. I plan to have them printed up and framed. Here are 3 recent ones that I took in Kansas:



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Of faces and hands...

I did not begin weaving the face yesterday. I had to weave all around the face first, which I did, and that has given me the courage to 'face the face' (so to speak) today. I did finish weaving the hand, and am happy with it. Hands and faces are very important. When there is a figure in an image, the viewer's eye goes to the face first. The hand is pretty important in this tapestry, too. The title of the piece will be "The Gift", and the woman is lifting her hand up in a gesture of either receiving or giving something. I had thought about having something symbolic in the hand, but decided to leave it empty, and thus ambiguous regarding whether the gift was being given or received.

So today, it's the face and the hair. I've been looking again at William Morris's tapestries, which have, I believe, the most perfect woven faces. They are all woven sideways, however, and I'll be weaving from the bottom, up. Still, they will be nearby to inspire me. Aren't they beautiful? And they look so simple... Simply Beautiful.