Unexpected, Crazy Fun

IMG_0025We had so much fun being just a little crazy last night.  On her way out the door yesterday, Kate mentioned that there was a field trip planned for today (trip on a boat, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge), and by the way, if she decided to go (instead of staying behind in her office to catch up on work) she might need a hat for the “Crazy Hat Contest”.  It has been SO long since I got to help with a “school project”!  Thought I would see what might “inspire”…  I cruised the local JoAnn’s and had a lot of fun spending about ten bucks: grabbed the birdhouse on the way in the door and sort of went with that.   Added a bit of paint, some great red wire, a little orange polka-dotted pinwheel (25 cents!!), and a package of laser cut wooden buttons…every single thing was “on sale”!  (Also, bought a great little purple flower pot (99 cents), thinking it might make a cool base for the “hat”…but it got traded out pretty quickly for the black and white one in the photo  (It is actually a hat, imagine that…)   When she got home from work, I must have looked like I was having way too much fun, because it wasn’t long before we were both playing with the idea of a birdhouse hat…a bit of raiding in her closet and from her desk, and voila!

Given that she works with a bunch of engineers, the hat we came up with is decidedly low-tech…but, bet it makes you smile!

ps:  Update…Our hat won!  Prize to be announced…hmmmm

Wedding Paper…DONE!

And, not a moment too soon.  So, here is a quick look.


Find your name.  Take the train to Capitola?


There’s your table!


Wedding Favors…to remember the day.  Tickets to GREAT times.


Special wishes for the bride and groom…


Don’t forget the cake…lots of cake.


Bird Songs?

Birds and I have never had a great relationship.  I have noticed that a lot of mixed media art has a bird in it…As a matter of fact, I have heard that this is one sure way to “improve” a piece of work…to “just put a bird on it”!   I DO like feathers.  A lot.  Have a great collection of wonderful vintage ones, mostly scavenged from ladies’ hats.  My mom still has a stunning one totally covered with beautifully patterned green feathers.  I wonder when she last wore that one to church…hmmm….

Years and years ago, while John was in grad school, I taught art (and lots of other things) in a middle school.  To say we were living the struggling student life, is a kind way to describe our life style.  Thus, to save gas (a whole 29 cents a gallon) and money, I biked the couple of miles to school.  (My students had a great time making “alterations” to my bike…but that is another story.)  Along the route, there was one tree that had an angry bird.  Every time I rode by, it would swoop, chatter, dive-bomb…and, worse…

That said, our new spot is a bird haven.  Our trees are home to at least ten different kinds of birds…probably more.  Not sure why.  Maybe because we are at the very top of the hill?   It seems each tree has its own bird family: cardinals, robins, martins, swallowtails, sparrows, flickers, doves…In the early morning (reeeeally early…about 4:30 this time of year), they begin to “sing”.  ALL of them.  It is a cacophony of bird NOISE.  They “sing” all day long.  It has become the background music to our life here on the hill.

A few years ago, my sister gave me a bird house made by a vendor at the Elephants Trunk.  I never wanted to put it outside in New York, because I was certain that more than likely its inhabitants would be mice, rather than birds.  So the house sat in the basement for years.  It got scooped up in our move and was rather unceremoniously plopped on the wall outside the kitchen window.  It was winter.  One day in the spring, I saw a bird go in!  How did it fit in that small hole?  And, then another flew in…(re-called that dive-bombing bird)…As we continued to watch throughout the spring, we saw the two of them, flying in and out all day long.  They could hit that little hole, swooping in from hundreds of feet in the air…swoosh, right into the hole. (Entertainment is cheap in the country.)   In and out, all day…STILL!  And then, a week ago, we discovered why…


Junior apparently has a big appetite!

Not Exactly Twiddling My Thumbs…

IMG_5062In spite of the fact that so far, no work has come out of either of my new studios, there IS some “work” getting done and news to tell.  I have had some work and articles published in two magazines in the last few weeks.  The summer issue of Pages, published by Interweave Press has my stenciled journal in it…they actually extended the original four pages to six and I was very happy with the way that it turned out.  (I got a bit nervous about the whole thing when the editor started referring to it as the “peek-through journal”…sounded a bit racy, and not what I had in mind at all.  But, the article looks great! (Photos, page by page are in the entry “Can You Hear It?”, posted July 23, 2013)  And, somewhat serendipitously, my “kimono” (photos, “Finished…Maybe”, February 26, 2013), part of a gallery exhibit at the City Quilter in New York City last year, caught the eye of a visiting editor of the German magazine Patchwork Professional…and there it is on page 37 of the 01/2014 issue!  In German… sure hope it says good things!

IMG_5071My son is getting married soon and I have been tapped to do the “paper stuff”.  I designed their guest book…and, am very pleased with the way it turned out.  I started with a rather large wire-bound book of watercolor paper (Cachet), randomly stenciled pages with  alcohol-inks, and cropped and pasted down photos to tell their story.  It helped that I had lots of interesting photos to choose from: I never realized just how much they have travelled!  It will take a brave person to be the first to write in it…but, after that, I am hoping that the photos jog memories of shared good times…and that the messages written in by their guests reflect that.IMG_5070

Using similar techniques and colors (purple, by special request), I am also devising place cards, table ID’s and dinner favors.  All is taking place in an old logging camp up in the mountains above Santa Cruz, ceremony in a redwood cathedral grove (stunning), party in the barn…guests to arrive by steam engine…hence, the cabinet cards, train schedules, and tickets…(those are still UFOs…but, working on them…)IMG_5073 IMG_5074 IMG_5078

I complained enough to my daughter about the brown curtains in her living room, that she finally just told me to “just make some”…working on that…WHITE and lovely.IMG_5086 IMG_5104

And, I guess the post script to this entry is that I have never given up on finishing the mystery knit-along I started with my daughter in December.  I feel like the very last runner crossing the finish line, long, LONG (months and months) after everyone else.  AND, the very sad thing is that it isn’t because I haven’t been working on it.  I have…almost EVERY DAY…obviously, ripping out far more than I knit in!…but I finally conquered Clue 4 (thank you, lifeline), and am more than half through Clue 5!  Then, DONE!  I have learned a lot in the process, and am truly glad I stuck with it…IMG_5082No studio?  No problem…in this house, any flat surface can (and does) serve!!!!

Catching Up…

IMG_5100Even though there have been no posts, there has been some progress.  I can actually see the floors in both studios!  The HUGE pile of boxes is GONE.  I wish I could say that every thing that was packed away in those boxes has actually found a good (and final) landing spot.  But, so far, that’s not happening.  All of my cookies have been truly tossed.

What used to hold my stuff, no longer does!  My china closet is actually in a real dining room…good for nothing at the moment, it’s not even holding dishes.  It is too long of a trek from the studio, anyway to use it to store the beads, lace, trims, binders, and books it used to hold…That was one VERY useful piece of furniture!  It might actually be re-purposed for its original one…imagine that.  I also “lost” two of my tables and an armoire; I may have acquired a trunk…and a bookcase…but, nothing seems to be going easily in the “organization” effort.

IMG_5087I finally stripped the old varnish off my mahogany “sewing” table: its beautiful inlay work had been hidden by all the dings and chips in the finish.   I wanted to do that for years and knew I would never get to it once it was back in action).  It turned out great!  Feeling sort of smug about that one.  I have to cut off a few inches from the top of my design wall panels…sure going to miss those…but its wood support is in place…waiting.   “Claimed” a great rug for the floor…one of our last purchases from the Elephant’s Trunk.

IMG_5093The other room is not faring so well.  Basically, I plan to do everything except sew in there. Lots of manpower got the huge (10 feet long!!!) table around tight corners and up the stairs.  (John made it for me years ago; the top, salvaged from an old drafting shop.  In the old house, it was doing basement project duty.)  I am truly hoping it will work upstairs this time.  But, so far, I just keep unpacking boxes in there, trying to sort things into “common” piles.

To best use all of this space, and, especially the closets that I do have, my fabric has ended up being in the “paper/bead” studio closet and the beads and art supplies, in the closets in the other room.  It is a little mind-bending at the moment, as I try to get it all organized.  But, who knows, maybe there will be more “cross-pollinization” in my future work because of it.  I know it is all looking very fresh. IMG_5103


A Small Victory

IMG_5042Stolen moments and sheer willfulness got the “traveling” bag done and shipped off…ready for its first trip. Hopefully, it will be “just perfect”.   I truly enjoyed mucking around in my stuff once again, trying to figure out how to make the thing and then, how to make it special.  Couldn’t find much more than my most basic tools…scissors, pins, a needle, thread, and, the very important seam ripper!  Had to scrounge for “stuff” beyond the things my daughter left behind when she visited a few weeks ago: the penguin buttons, the patches from Korea, the dragon…I got lucky and found my trays of mother-of-pearl and ivory-like treasures.  (SO glad I labelled the boxes as well as I did and I could have done better still…I am NOT going to even think “next time”!)  Who would have thought so many would still be taped up six months later?)

IMG_5046Went with the black and white theme suggested by the penguins…added some polka dot ribbon I found in a plastic bin (a real advantage there…I can see what is inside!)  Lined the pocket with a great black and white print.  I tried to make the “private” side of the bag under the flap as interesting as the “public” side…without overdoing it (keeping my “client” in mind).  Under the flap is a quiet message just for my daughter.  In the zippered pocket is a good luck coin.  It might have been especially fitting if I could have found my old Chinese coins…but in a way, secreting the lovely old French coin there, was even more so.  We found it in a Paris street market on the trip that started this whole “traveling bag” story…AND, it is a reminder of a really good day.

IMG_5045The zipper pulls were a bit of a problem.  No tools.  No headpins.  It was totally extravagant to use the silver wire…but it was all I could find.  Deadline…tick.tick.tick.  They may have to be replaced at some point…but that will be a problem for another day.  TODAY, I am feeling pretty good.  This was fun.  And, hopefully, the bag will do its job well.  Bon Voyage.

Picking up the Pieces

IMG_5033Studios are almost done.  What is taking so long is elusive…time just seems to slip by as I try my best to do the things that should be done.  The “should” is the telling word.  Not going there…

The dining room table (the only clear and flat surface in the house) has finally succumbed to the assorted projects that are piling up as “the painter” lags behind.  Quite a few years ago, on a once in a lifetime kind of trip, my daughter and I were wandering through the streets of Paris.  We happened upon a trendy boutique (more her style than mine…big surprise!) where she fell in love with a pocketbook/bag…army drab in color, but sparkling with stuff.  Her practical side decided that “we” could make one.  We spent the rest of our trip seeking out “Paris things” to sew on a bag.  It did get made.  And it has since been much-loved and much-travelled…and is now, falling apart.  Who travels with a bag with a broken zipper?  Pickpockets, any one????  Her response is always the same.  “It is just perfect, Mom”.  (This is the daughter who likes the new thing only if it is just like the old thing.  Try shopping for back-to-school shoes!  Challenging, to say the least.  Glad those days are done!)

Well, life for her has been tough, lately.  She IS getting back to work which involves the inevitable travel.  And, this is a good thing.  So, instead of painting studio trim, I am making her a new bag (as much like the “perfect” old one as is humanly possible!)    Travel is so fraught with potential disaster…I keep telling myself that for her, the worst has already happened, and, practically in her own front yard…but still…

So I have gathered together the penguin buttons she had bought for his birthday, and the embroidered dragon that will guard her gate, and a small patch purchased on a memorable trip taken together when her life was good, and I am hoping to help her pick up her pieces…with a bag for her travels, made with talismans and love.

And, for me, I guess it is a first step in a new life as well…


Showing Some Promise…


Kate got me off the dime.  By the time she left all of the studio walls were painted.  I will admit that it is an extravagant use of space…but, really, who needs more than one guest room?  So, I find myself with a suite of studio spaces…

IMG_5024I lived in a white house for nearly 25 years.  This time, I am choosing color: fresh, light, easy.  I have to admit I probably went a little crazy when I started out with four gallons of “Breath of Fresh Air” to paint my bedroom…but the name was catchy, the room was huge, and the color was lovely…blue.  Well, I started with the little alcove in my bedroom, using the color straight from the can, and it SCREAMED. It GLOWED; it was BRIGHT!  Too much.  Really.   Not in the plan, at all.  Funny how deceiving those little squares of color can be.  But, I had four gallons of the stuff!

I would not recommend this if one is faint of heart, color-wise,  but I have been dumping that “Fresh Air” into my leftover cans of white paint (my ceilings are still mostly getting the “white” treatment, but am thinking of adding a bit of color there, too).   Stirring, testing,  adding a bit more “Air”, stirring, stirring… what a great color!  Still blue, but light and “fresh”.

IMG_5026Then, I bought a gallon of “Misty Lilac”…looked pink in that little two inch square.  Put some on the wall…Whoa!  Added LOTS of white: concocted a lighter version.  Painted one room.  Added blue to the  can of “mistiness”.  Painted another room.  Added more pink, a dollop of blue…painted the last room.

IMG_5019Needless to say, if I ever have to “touch up”, things could get dicey.  But, for now, I  am happy.  There may be some room switching as the job gets finished.  The sun is crossing across the walls in an unexpected way, which will definitely determine where the design wall has to be…and therefore, which space will be for fabric work.  The rest will fall into place after that.  But, still, showing some  promise…Home is where the art happens…and, it has been far, far too long…