Monday, May 25, 2015

Organizing The Studio

I'm in the midst of cleaning and organizing my studio in preparation for my upcoming Artist's Along The Bitterroot Studio Tour (June 5-7). My studio has been a disaster area for a few years now and I have avoided it a lot this past year. With the excuse of not being motivated to create because of the death of my mom last June, I have not been making as much art as I have in previous years, or should be making. Since my mom was one of my biggest champions and certainly an inspiration for me, this is partially true. But the other part of it is that the room has just become a catchall for anything that can't find a home elsewhere in the house and I have let it become that.

 So this week I decided to tackle it and actually make myself throw out some things. Nothing that anyone else would want---an accordian folder of magazine articles with recipes and do-it-yourself projects that I will never make or do; clothing patterns that are not my size nor age appropriate and will likely never be made by me as I seem to have developed a strong aversion to clothing and home dec sewing; large cardboard boxes holding small amounts of little stuff that need to be sorted and put away; and magazines. Oh the never ending accumulation of magazines and the emotional parting of ways with them. What is that? Why do I get so attached to them? I rarely look at them again, unless they are Quilting Arts and I'm looking for advice on a new technique. I use Pinterest extensively for finding recipes so all those old cooking magazines that I never went back to anyways are now history, as well as any quilting magazines that are full of patterns and designs I will never use!

 I've now stuffed my drawers, cabinets, shelves and surfaces with about as much as they can bear. If I acquire anything else, something will have to go to make room for it. My fabric is falling over, dripping off, and sliding away from the shelves they are on and they definitely need to be sorted better. The towering piles that are two stacks deep are just not usefully displayed for me to use effectively. I need to acquire some more bins that I can label and fill with like fabrics by color or style (batik, hand-dye, etc). I do have a bunch of bins doing just that, but I ran out of empty ones. How long will it take me to go to the store and get more? Good question...
In the meantime, at least I can see and now use my sewing work spaces for pressing, cutting, and stitching. I can get near my design wall and I can access my fabric and beads. The carpet is no longer covered with stray threads and seed beads and the counters are relatively dust free! When I finish cleaning up the last details---things I don't have a place for and don't know what to do with—I will have a clean, albeit cluttered studio. So what mixed-media fiber artist does not have a cluttered studio?! No matter how big a space it was I would fill it up with stuff. The smaller space just means I have to be a little discriminating in what I purchase or accept from those would like to gift things to me. Buttons, beads, old clothes made of silk or suede, books, trims, and certainly fabric yardage are all things that well-meaning friends and acquaintances want to give me. I have begun to say “thank you, but no” to most of them. I did recently accept a couple boxes of fabric and some Handwoven magazines because I had interest in perusing them myself before passing them on. Haven't even looked in the boxes of fabric yet, but I may find something in there of value as they are yardages of good quality fabric according to the previous owner. Of course we all have different ways of qualifying “value” and it is somewhat proportionate to the size of our studio and storage space!

Hard choices, thoughtful organizing, and deadlines all work to make the studio a good working space that is enjoyable and functional. I had the deadline of making it presentable for a studio tour and that is good motivation. I always have worked best under deadlines. But now that it is clean I have no excuses for not going in there and, as Nancy Crow would say, Just Do The Work!  I'm ready!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1000 Quilt Inspirations Book

I just got word that this new book, 1000 Quilt Inspirations by Sandra Sider, is now available.  Three of my pieces are included so I am excited to see the book!  If you go on Amazon there is a little video on one of the reviews that shows someone leafing through it.   It is also available through Barnes & Noble or from the publisher at

It looks like a lovely picture book with lots of inspiration for all types of quilts. 

This the first time I have had my work published in a book.  The pieces I submitted were all small pieces created for the Studio Art Quilt Associates on-line fundraising auction held every year in the early Fall.  My pieces have always sold and I hope the recipients have enjoyed them.  I made them all especially for the auction so they are 12x12.

I am getting excited as well for another new opportunity for me.  I will be attending my first Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference in Portland at the end of April and am looking forward to meet many of the artists I admire and interact with on-line through the SAQA email list.  I was lucky enough to obtain a Montana Arts Council Grant that will pay for half of my costs for the trip.  The last two days I am there I will be visiting with my good childhood friend, Michelle, who lives in Vancouver just across the river from Portland.  It is has been a long time since I have had a vacation and I love travelling by myself.  I'm flying, which I also love, and staying in the conference hotel.  Portland here I come!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, April 8, would have been my mom's birthday.  She died almost a year ago in June and I miss her.  I have finally stopped mourning her loss every day, but on a day like today I mourn anew.  

When my mom was a child her birthday cake was usually the day old Easter cake from a bakery.  When I was growing up I don't remember ever having a store bought cake.  She made me my favorite cola cake or carrot cake, depending on which I asked for that year after much agonizing over the choice.  They were both always wonderful, although rarely perfect.  I never felt they were lesser because of that.  They were always the perfect birthday cake for me.  Made by my mom.  For me.  Thanks, mom. 

My mom never felt she fit in or that people held her in any kind of esteem.  We tried to convince her otherwise over the years but her childhood of neglect and inner struggles just wouldn't let her believe it.    She didn't want us to have a funeral service for her so we didn't, but I think it would have been a packed house.  She was a quiet, unassuming, approachable, friendly, completely accepting and honest person and I admire and hope to emulate all those qualities I saw in her.  She taught me to be thoughtful and kind to others.  She helped us to enjoy and celebrate holidays so that one day my siblings and I would share that joy with our own kids and families.  She taught me to see the beauty and value in the natural world, both forest and garden. She loved growing things and always had beautiful flowers in her yard.  They weren't always the most tailored and tidy flower gardens, but they were much loved and she took care of them so they thrived and bloomed for her.  

That is what she did for me.  Cared for me so that I have thrived and am blooming.  She was perfect to me.  She was my mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I hope you have found peace for your soul.  It is what I always wished for you in life.  

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs

Disclaimer: This is a cooking post not an art post!  But I will say that there is an art to boning, stuffing and baking this recipe--and it ...