Thursday, June 24, 2010

A reason to celebrate

This is a photo of my parents on June 18, 1960. Aren't they everything newlyweds should be? We are getting the whole family together this weekend to celebrate their golden anniversary, now that school is out. We are spending the weekend at our little vacation home in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, where we will laugh, swim, play, eat, drink, celebrate and reconnect with each other.
Of course, my siblings and I have been hard at work behind the scenes trying to come up with original, fun, and meaningful gifts to give our wonderful parents. One of the things we did was type up as many memories as we could think of and put them in a jar. We will call it "A year of memories" and they can pull one out every day for the next year and read it and reminisce together.
We also decided it would be nice to have a family tree hung somewhere, and I offered to make a quilt. Here it is! I've been hard at work on it and have been unable to post it due to the surprise factor (they are already out there and disconnected from the long arm of the web!) but now that the weekend is here, I feel safe posting it.

The lower half of the quilt

A detail from the top of the tree

Here is our branch of the family tree. I had to practice the leaf free-motion quilting on paper before I did it with thread. There are lots of slip-ups that hopefully nobody will notice!

And here is the label on the back of the quilt.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! Here's to the next 50 years! (We will be away next week so I won't be posting for a while, but I'll take lots of photos to share when I get back...)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend in a nutshell

I just finished this postcard to swap in "The Great Big Stitched Post Card Swap" sponsored by Beth Nicholls. I received the address of the person this will go to - she lives in southern Australia! I hope it gets there in one piece! The theme of the swap was "time" so I stitched on the words "time and tide wait for no one." According to Google maps, she only lives a few blocks from the ocean, so I hope she likes the wave imagery. (I'll have to figure out how much postage this will need.)

Last night we went out to see Toy Story 3 for Father's Day. (My husband loves the Toy Story movies. He has all these deep theories about how the role parents play in their kids' lives parallel the toys in the story, and that eventually our kids will no longer need us, just like Andy no longer needs Woody and Buzz.) The movie did not disappoint. The characters are as charming as ever and there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments and plot twists that keep you engrossed. My favorite scenes involve Buzz Lightyear in Spanish mode (hilarious!). If you like the Toy Story movies and are in the mood for something light and fun, I would highly recommend it.

We have been having some beautiful summer weather so Friday evening we brought some pizza down to our little beach. Cassie and the girls had a great time playing in the water together. Cassie is an excellent swimmer.

Of course, after she is thoroughly soaked through, her favorite thing to do (next to eating every scrap of food she can find on the ground) is to dig! Here she is getting completely sandy. She always needs a good hosing after we get home.

One final (funny) note; I decided to leave Cassie out while I was away at work one day last week. When I got home, I noticed the little statue we have on the front step had been altered slightly! Too bad - My husband picked that out especially because it reminded him of himself and his three daughters. Now two of them are headless! Crazy dog!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Print!

Do you recognize that cute little pendant with the fish on it on the bottom of page 85 in the latest (July/August) issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine? Yep, that's mine! I kind of had a feeling about that pendant, just thought it might be cute enough to make the cut, and I was right! Feels good to know that someone else thinks enough of something you created to put it in print. (Click here to see it as I originally posted it). AND, since I made four other similar ones, maybe it's time for me to put them up for sale at an ETSY shop! It would be a great summer item... Now I just have to find the TIME!!!!!
The magazine announced a new challenge in this issue: A mixed-media mini book! I will probably enter my little "April Showers" book from last spring. If you'd like to see it and you haven't, click here. (I kind of have a good feeling about that one too...)
There is another article in this issue, the second in a series of three by Dawn Devries Sokol called "Art Journaling: Pages in Stages." In the first article, she talks about her difficulty getting started art journaling and then outlines steps she used to help her get over that difficulty. The first step was to paint the pages, the second step, discussed in this article, is adding collage elements such as text or pictures from magazines, rubber stamps, ink blotches, crayon lines etc. Maybe I can use some of her tips to help me get started on my Sketchbook. Busy, busy, busy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Taking our show on the Road!

Here I am with my two colleagues from the Youth Services Dept. of the Mahopac Public Library. This week we're visiting all the local elementary schools to promote the library's summer reading programs. Don't we look cute? The theme this year is "Make a Splash" so we incorporated that into our presentation with palm trees, snorkeling gear, and fishing poles. In between our school presentations, I've been planning the crafts, jewelry-making and cooking classes I'll be co-leading this summer. I have lots of fun things planned so if you're a Mahopac resident with elementary-age kids, come down and check it out!

Doesn't Joan look relaxed in her beach chair? She's waiting for our audience to arrive and settle down. The kids really seemed to enjoy the program. We ran it like a game show called "Name that Book." Joan read off clues to a book and Gail and I were the contestants. We got help from the students to name each book and were threatened with a bucket of water if we got it wrong. What we didn't anticipate was that many of the kids would have loved to see either one of us get a bucket of water dumped on our heads, so they were chanting things like "dump it!" and "get wet!" Some of them even tried to give us the wrong answers intentionally! We finish up on Friday at the Kindergarten school. I bet the little ones will be much less rambunctious!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Two New Adventures

This is a photo of the night table next to my bed. It holds my reading lamp, some favorite photos of the girls, and my new sketchbook. I decided to take a flying leap into the unknown and join The Sketchbook Project sponsored by the Art House Co-op in Brooklyn. I have until early January to fill up these 40 pages and send it back. Then it goes on tour around the country, where people attending the exhibit get to pick it up and read it. You get to choose a theme or have one assigned to you. I almost chose "Storybook" but went instead with "This is not a sketchbook." That leaves my options wide open.
I think I was enticed by the idea of having some original pieces being seen by a variety of people (I do wonder who attends these exhibits...). And of course, being a book lover and sometime writer, I had to take a chance at creating something like this. But even though I have six months to fill it up, I am already getting a little frozen at the thought of it. I often hear of how some writers and artists take one look at that blank, white, empty page and freeze at the thought of putting something down, probably because of the pressure of trying to make it perfect. Well, here is a whole bookful of blank white pages staring back at me! And I'm big on re-doing; my eraser and seam ripper are always close at hand. What if I put something down and then hate it? Do I rip out the page?
One thing that is taking the pressure off is that the general rules are really very loose. I could rip out pages if I want. I could even undo the binding, create a complete book out of fabric and and then stitch it back into the cover, if I wanted to. And I'm actually considering doing that.
So what I've been thinking about is, if this is not a sketchbook, as my theme states, then what kind of book is it? It could be a storybook or a picture book, or a book of illustrated poems (like one of my unofficial goals for this year). It could be an ABC book or a dictionary or a journal.
I am mulling this over as I go about my busy life.
I think I'll keep the book on my night table to keep it fresh in my thoughts! And I'll try not to put too much pressure on myself, but keep it fun!
My second new adventure is taking my first e-course with mixed-media artist Kelly Rae Roberts. It's a 5 week course called "Flying Lessons: tips & tricks to help your creative business soar." The flying metaphor goes along with her book, Taking Flight. Although I did get her book from the library about a year ago, I didn't buy it and I didn't do any of the suggested art activities. But I did pick up some good blogs and websites to visit, and there is a lot more of that type of information in the course so far. Her metamorphosis from social worker to full-time professional artist with licensing contracts took only 5 or 6 years. And while she claims anyone can do it and encourages everyone to try, I think there has to be a lot more to it, everything from natural talent, to hard work and dedication, to plain old dumb luck. She seems to have had all of these, as well as all the personal time she needed to dedicate to art, self-exploration and self-expression. My current reality is very different from hers and I don't expect miracles from the course, just maybe a gentle nudge in the right direction. One of the ideas she strongly encourages is having an active presence on Facebook and Twitter. I do have a personal facebook page, but I don't use it much and I have not joined Twitter. I just don't see myself having the kind of time it takes to log on so often to post things (I'm lucky I can leave a few photos and ideas here once or twice a week!). (I think a lot of people do it from their cell phones, but I have one of those good old fashioned phones that I use mainly for emergency calls and the occasional text message!).
So those are my two new adventures, and as I progress through them, I'll keep you posted. For now, I have my constant companion and big yellow shadow keeping me company along the way!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Lovely Opening

A great ending to a great day and a great weekend! The reception was well-attended, and there were plenty of refreshments to go around. It was fun to mingle and talk shop with all the other artists (we don't get a chance to chat much at our monthly meetings so this was a real treat).

Mounted on the white canvases and hung on the brown cork walls, the art really stood out. It was fun to watch family and friends go from piece to piece discussing everything from use of color to subject matter, techniques, and materials. It was also exciting to see the artwork of the other group members. Check out the FiberArt Northeast blog listed in the sidebar for some better shots of individual pieces.

I brought fruit and fresh flowers for the tables. Below is my daughter enjoying the color and aroma of our own homegrown roses (a climbing variety called "Don Juan" that we've had a lot of success with).

I'm so glad I get to walk past all this beautiful art on my way to lunch every day at work this month!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fiber + Thread = Art II

The Fiber Arts Northeast group I belong to is opening its second annual show this week at the Mahopac Public Library, in the gallery on the third floor. Our opening reception is Sunday afternoon, so if you're in the vicinity, stop by to meet the artists and share some refreshments!
Our wonderful and amazing artist leader Jane Davila has been hard at work developing a blog for our group which can be found at You can access it from my blog list to the left. Every member's blog also has a link from that blog, so it's an additional place to get some exposure, which is great! Check it out and see some of the other artists' work before our show. Jane has also arranged to have all our artwork, artist statements, and contact information available as a Print-on-Demand book! More exposure! Wow!