Sunday, June 10, 2012

The art is shown

I have not posted sine the art show. It went well, but I did not sell anything. Part of the problem was also that I did not sit still during the show to barter. But I plan to do another in October. The first two are part of the New Mexico series. Then there is the diptych that I worked on forever. Then another study of color layering. Then a picture of the wall.

I was a little miffed at some misinformation. The show runner said don't bring more that 5-8 pieces, then people showed up with tons and tons so my space looked empty and theirs were awesome. Now I know not to listen too closely.

Monday, April 9, 2012


     Quilting is not an easy or cheap project. In fact, it it pretty hard and kind of expensive. But, here is the story from the beginning:
      I finally screwed up the courage to start on a quilt. So i went to the closest place to get fabric- Walmart. Tsk-tsk if you like, but fabric is fabric and I can't afford the Greenhills fabric store just yet. Plus, I didn't want to spend a ton on something I'm just learning and am likely to screw up. So I bought pre-cut fabric squares (remember I still work over 40 hours a week. No time for square cutting) a bunch of muslin for the back and batting. All in all about $60. Not bad, but the story doesn't end there.
     After watching countless hours of how-to quilt on youtube I took the first step. I organized my quilting squares in a pattern. Sure, it is just a square by square pattern. None of the fancy pinwheels or log cabins or modern log cabin (which has a loft and all two car garage unlike the regular log cabin). I stitched and stitched and stitched on my teeny machine. It took me two days of after work work to finish it. It was not hard, but my thread kept breaking and would snap out of the guide holes. Then I'd have to re-thread the whole thing and start again. Boo.
     Here's the real heartbreaker- the reason it kept breaking is that my needle bent. Eventually it became so bent that the whole thing would seize up and I couldn't work. I then went on the quest to find a new needle.  I looked all over the guidebook and machine and needle and everywhere for the needle number that would tell me the size of the replacement needle. Nope. No where. After buying and trying five different sizes of needle ($15) I gave up. So I waited until the next month (march) so I could afford a new machine.  I decided on a medium grade model ($80).
     Having everything in place, I went on to the next step of a quilt sandwich and batting. Sounds better than it is. It involves putting a ton of pins in the quilt sandwich to hold it together while quilting. That done, I moved on to quilting. FAIL. Not having the proper quilting foot for the machine ($8) that would allow me to create a neat quilt pattern, I decided to "stitch in the ditch" which mean to sew where there are already seems. Easy enough? Wrong.
     Being that not all my seams are completely straight, it led to some craziness. It would have been ok on the top. You can't see the mess of stitches because of the pattern in the fabric. On the back, however, you can clearly see. It looks like I was quilting drunk. it dos not help that I chose to do it all in black to match the top which contrasts with the white bottom. A poor decision on my part.
     I got all ready to do the binding, but have not yet. I am seriously considering ripping out all my quilting seams and trying again so it's not so much of a mess. It takes 1/4 the time to undo as it does to do. I will update with how it goes and with photos.

Do you remember me? The Blogger?

     I have let this blog completely go, haven't I? I really really didn't mean to. It started because nothing seemed to be getting done. The paintings. The quilting. I wasn't learning anything new. Why blog is nothing is going on?
     Then the opposite happened. There was an explosion of creativity. I have since created five new paintings with another on the way and have gotten down to the last steps of a quilt. I will give you a post about each. Pictures come later when I am not on a work break.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

As I promised

Pictures for you. Here is half the diptych. You see that it need something else, but I don't know quite what yet.

Above is the quilling. I have more done on it by now, but you can get an idea of the process. Yay paperclips.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Half finished or half not finished?

    Yes, yes I'm still trying to get done with the works of art that have come to be my nemesis. "You are still on the same ones?" you shout. Yes. And it's not like they are masterpieces. I am just stuck on the diptych and can not get enough little papers rolled up to finish the quilled piece.
     I had to resort to scrapbooking paper to finish out the quilling one. It does not look the same, though. Instead of pictures and color variations it is just block color. However, it takes waaay too many magazines to get enough single-color pages. I went through 5 magazines just to get maybe 1/4 of the piece done. .
    Do you know how long it takes to roll and glue that many little strips of paper? They just don't cover much. I could probably fit two or three paper tubes per square inch. On a 9x12 canvas that is plenty- 216 to be exact. It takes some time. Give me a break.
    But I will continue. I will get these done. I have put myself on a crafting freeze until I finish at least one of the two. Otherwise I'll end up making the quilt, bookmarks, and woodblock transfers that I want. I already made cards, a few bookmarks and a cardbook (where I put all the cards from one holiday together and make a cover for it).
     Here are a few tips I've learned from these projects:
  • If you decide to quill and want to use magazine pages, start saving magazines. Get friends to save magazines. Does your work get magaziens and throw them out at the end of the month? Take those, too.
  • Have a best friend? Talk them into coming over and ripping out pages of said magazines that match with your criteria. Watching movies or TV while doing this is acceptable. Eating popcorn or pizza is not.
  • If you decide to use scrapbooking paper, you will need a heavier glue. The weight of the paper is heavier and will require a stronger hold than the lightweight magazines pages.
  • Paperclips hold the tubes together long enought for the glue to dry.
  • If you have a cat, keep the tubes away from the cat. He or she will begin a separate project.
  • Patience. Patience. Leave it alone for a while. More patience.
  • Something I haven't learned, but hear it works well- focus. Focus and finish one whole thing before you start another. Not my style, but OK.

Did you think I forgot you?

     Ok, I admit. I have been neglecting this blog. You might be tempted to think that I have not been doing anything. Au contraire. Now have I been living life to the fullest? Probably not. But I have been living. And sleeping. And enjoying myself. But now it's time to get down to business. Let me tell you what I have been doing.
     The biggest project that I have taken on is buying a new car. It has taught me so much. It also made me so nervous and anxious that I couldn't sleep for a week. Here are a few things you might want to know if you need to buy a car.
  •  It will take several hours over a day, maybe many days.
  • You need to do plenty of homework before you go into a dealership. Find out what is and is not optional. Find Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), the invoice cost to the company, and what the average good deal is.
  • If you are buying in America, is helpful in knowing the average sale price for people in your area. I know I sound like that commercial, but it is true. I do not know if Edmunds applies to other countries.
  • When looking at the sticker price, don't forget the taxes and fees. It brought my cost up another $900.
  • If you are a first time buyer or maybe your credit doesn't qualify you for a good loan from the car dealership, ask your bank. It reduced my interest 8.78%.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for what you want, even if the car dealership has to get it in. Most places can get cars free from nearby dealerships. They will try to sell you a car on the lot because it is there and requires no followup by them. Just instant commission. I wanted a turquoise car but they kept trying to sell me a grey one to get it off the lot. They kept saying, "Well, it'll be a lot easier on Jim if you'll just take the grey one." NOPE.
  • On that note, if they try to push you because something is easier or more convenient for them, don't fall for it. YOU are spending the thousands of dollars. YOU are the one driving it for years. If they wanted something easier they should have picked another profession.
  • Be sure to have it lined up with you insurance provider as well so that you are covered when you drive off the lot.
  • Have names, addresses and phone numbers for everyone involved (car people, bank people, insurance people)
     I hope that this helps you the next time that you have to buy a car. All kinds of people will tell you how to buy a car, but they often overlook the important details. I found that out the hard way. But at least I now have my new, turquoise car.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are we surprised?

     So this goal of posting every week doesn't seem to be going to well. Part of that is that one week slips into the next before I can even get a hold of it. Another part is that I'm not done with anything.
     I finished a little more of the quilling. But let me tell you it takes a lot of time. I have been rolling the paper into the proper tubes while watching movies. Even still, it takes more free time than I have (or want to devote to it).
     It also takes a lot of magazines. To find a page with enough constant color for it to read as that color when rolled up is surprisingly difficult. They are either blotted a bunch of colors or just white. I've gone through about six magazines and only have about 25 rolls. Do you know of any particularly colorful magazines?
     The diptych I'm doing is almost done. The last little bit is newspaper shreds. More time consuming paper cutting. Yay. Do you want pictures of unfinished things for instant gratification? Or wait or the whole thing?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Am I smarter yet?

     I don't know if it's all the blueberries or just all the practice, but I managed to finish a 500 piece puzzle in about three and a half hours. Technically on the clock it was longer than that, but I kept taking little breaks to check on my asian pork in the oven. Yum. If you are interested:
1/2 tsp chili oil
1-2 tsp sesame oil (to your preferance. I like only 1tsp)
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce.

Pour over pork loin and bake at 350 until it reaches appropriate temperature. It is just the right amount of salt with a hint of spice.

     The last you heard I was still sewing. Done! for now at least. I successfully made three adequate headbands. Eventually I want to tackle a baby quilt. But not yet. Now I've moved on to about three different things.
     The first project that I accomplished this weekend was to make my own charm necklace. I love the looks of them in stores, but decide it was best to make on that meant something to me. I took shells I brought back from Hawaii, a red stone I brought back from Santa Fe and made a charm from bits of shiny rock from Gatlinburg.  The charm was actually the lid of a spice jar that I glued a vacay picture in, then used hot glue to attach the stones and then added another layer of glue to seal. The picture is kind of obscure, but that I think looks neat. I used a hemp chord to attach them to a leather chord. Ta-da. Personal charm necklace with bits of my travels.
     Next I have picked painting up again. I am working on a diptych. So far I only have the backgrounds painted. One is blue and one purple.
     The third thing I'm working on is a quilling project. Quilling is a paper art and, in my case, involves tubes of colorful paper glued in rainbow patterns to a canvas. I made the paper tubes out of magazine pages. However, I hit one hitch. I used  a vogue magazine and a surprising number of their pages are in black, white or tan. That does not make for a very interesting piece. I will put up a picture once I've gotten another magazine and start to roll more paper tubes.
     What are you working on right now?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The more you know....

Reading is another thing I've been trying to do. As you saw last year there were a few weeks that I devoted to reading new things. I think keeping up with literature is important. I had this big plan to keep up this year with a goal of three books a month. Two and a half in February. Last year I only completed thirty four. Sure, the average is 2.83 books a month which is close, but this is all about being better, right?
If I make three books this month I will be amazed. I just can't keep my concentration on one. I started reading The Lacuna, the Jackie Kennedy Tapes and The People's Republic of Desire. That last one is not a romance novel like is sounds. It is about the modern Chinese woman and the cultural changes coming on as China diversifies. I mean, it is a little smutty. But only because modern Chinese women are apparently a little smutty. Still, I never seem to get through more than two or three pages. I'm not sure if it would help picking just one or if I just wouldn't read at all.

Is anyone else out there an ADDREADER? One book is never enough!

So how's the sewing?

     As you know I've been mastering my new sewing machine. My lines are still so wobbly. Does anyone have a solution to that? The good news is that I have not sewn my fingers together *knock on wood*. I am, however, getting tired or having all these awful headbands laying around my place. I take the worst ones and save them for stuffing.

     Another project that I have picked up is eating for my brain. Last year I thought about doing this for a week, but never did. The idea came from a book "Better Brain Health" or something like that. I forget. I guess I should've started working on this earlier. It involves eating food that are very nourishing to my brain. Some of these include: salmon, walnuts, spinach, strawberries and blueberries. Of course, any fruits and veggies are good for your brain because it gives it energy. But supposedly these are extra-special-good. We'll see. Now what was I saying?

 I also have started doing puzzles. I am hoping that it makes my brain think in different ways. Mental workouts can be just as important as physical ones as a person gets older. I am just about to hit the big quarter century, so I better start now. I do regular picture puzzles. Word puzzles. Cross words. Sudoku. Plus try to do math even if it is just simple addition and subtraction.

I  know that you know that it is kind of a roll of the dice anyway. If you have genes prone to dementia or regular forgetfulness, that is how you will mostly be. But is there is any chance at fighting it, why not try? Especially since it makes me feel better all over.
     What do you do to keep sharp?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goals and aspirations

     Here are the projects I hope to accomplish in the next year that I did not last year:
  • Learn to decorate cakes and cookies so they look like pictures in magazines
  • Take a dance class
  • Finish my novel
  • Learn to make a quilt
  • Work on my calligraphy
  • Enter an art contest.
     Here are a few more general resolutions that I made this year that are vaguely related to the project.

  • I will eat well. Good foods with good ingredients- not cheap, cruddy, by-product filled ones.
  • I will enter more contests. You can't win unless you enter.
  • Complete special offers that require you to go online and enter codes (e.g. We'll give $1 for every code entered on a roll of plastic wrap).
  • Spend more time with my friends.
  • Drink more fine tea.

Here is a start

     Not doing projects by the week makes them a little easier, but it makes blogging a lot harder. I'm not sure when to tell you about things. So I am making the goal to still blog every week.
     The first project that I have been working on is mastering my new sewing machine. It's an itty bitty baby machine that fits perfectly on my desk. I have so far learned how to load it, reload the bobber and get it going. My lines, however, are not straight. I am already getting ahead of myself and want to make myself a skirt. I also want to make a new apron and a quilt.
     I have only attempted to make the headbands that I started way back in November (I think). Well, the one I made looks a little messed up because the lines are so crooked.  But I'm hoping practice will take care of that. Until then I guess I'll have wear-around-the-house headbands.
     Anybody have any cool patters?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hello 2012!

     I just can't stop the madness. I desparately want to keep up the projects. However, this year I am re-organizing. Re-prioritizing. As you know from reading last year's blog, some things don't take a full week. Others could take months. That is why this year I am starting with a goal of projects and giving them the time they need.
    The things that I learned/practiced last year will be my starting point. I am going to take those projects that I loved doing or that I needed more time with and revisit them. Sometimes I might do more than on project at once. Sometimes it might lead to something completely new. I don't know yet. We are off the charts on this one.
     I am so glad that you are continuing with me on this nerdy journey. If you have any suggestions or expertise, I hope you will share them. Maybe this time around it will be more interactive. This is more fun with lots of people invovled.
     Watch out 2012! There's no stopping me.