Turtle Trax Diary for April 6, 1999. Page #19
by Lucky Magnolia (Susan Shie)
...Here's Hattie, in a March snowstorm, sniffing around poor old Ruth Stout, our scarecrow, who's so faithfully protected the garden from deer and maybe from birds, since last Spring. If you remember her lovely and colorful outfit, you know she's in need of a new wardrobe! And, judging from the wobbliness of her body, perhaps a new wooden frame! Ruth, it'll be the NEW YOU!!!!!
And just yesterday, I was down on my knees in the Rainbow Garden, plucking last year's marigold seeds, and then squatting in the Moon Garden, pulling tons of weeds and removing the old dead leaves. I wish I could give you the smell of the cool, wet earth I was uncovering! Nothing like it! Spring is really, truly here!
OK, so I admit it, I skipped March entirely, for making this diary. Please forgive me, as I just got way, way behind in many deadlines, with all the teaching we were doing! And another bout of the Echo Virus!!! And I had an unexpected laser surgery on my left eye, which I'd already had a cataract removed from, after the exam in prep for my May 5 right eye cataract removal!!! I can't promise skipping a month on this diary won't happen again, but I am sorry! I love to do this diary. We've had a lot of fun in the last month and a half, so I'll try to recapture some of it for you now!
Remember that all through February, we were doing an Artist Residency at St. Peter's School in Mansfield, Ohio. To review the first part, see the Feb. diary. After the painting with fabric stage, we did airbrush work, which means that Jimmy gave almost 100 students personal instruction, one on one, in how to hold and paint with an Aztek dual action airbrush. They painted accents, shading, and designs over their brush painting. The next step was the long one, as any quilter worth her salt knows! Sewing! It took forever, and the kids worked hard and diligently! They did a lot of outline stitching, going through all the layers of their blocks, to quilt at the same time. Lucky School of Quilting, remember? They did Chicken Stitch in backgrounds, too! And they overcast all their blocks' edges. Finally they got to do beading, which has to wait til last, since beads done earlier might loosen up, if you do more stitching after sewing them on. Everyone was extremely patient, and we saw the students becoming more and more possessive and proud of their blocks!
Here is the fifth grade core group, The Mummy Files, with their finished blocks for the school's quilt, on the final day of the residency!
The sixth grade core group, The Ra Show, displays their finished blocks for the school quilt, on the last day of the residency.
Ta da!!!!! We were able to pin every single block the kids had made, all onto two big boards. It was shocking that they perfectly fit the space!! We didn't plan that, so it was a really nice surprise! There are two small, 6" x 6" blocks made by our peripheral groups, with each 12" x 12" block made by our core groups. Isn't it stunning, The Ra Show / Mummy Files Quilt of St. Peter's School!!!!! Egyptian style gods and goddesses, conjured up from the wonderful imaginations of middle school students! Those kids are brilliant, don't you think? We sure do!
And we wish to thank Irene Maginnis, the art teacher who invited us to St. Pete's, and who really orchestrated the whole residency; Jim Smith, the principal at St. Pete's, who gave the project the green light; and the St. Pete's Parents' Club, who supplied wonderful parent classroom volunteers to assist us in many ways, and who paid for our residency, along with the Ohio Arts Council!!!!!
We also wish to thank the Coney Island Diner in downtown Mansfield, for always having an open booth and yummy lunches, when we'd pop in for food daily, while doing our residency! The great American diner, so near extinction, is alive and well in Mansfield! It's been there since 1936! Drank plenty of their coffee and gobbled up their delicious fries!!!! Yum!
Two days after the St. Pete's residency was over, we drove down to Gatlinburg, TN, to teach at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, stopping midway, in Cincinnati, to spend the night with our daughter Gretchen and her boyfriend Mike. After not getting to visit them at their place for months and months, we stayed there a total of four nights in the last month and a half! We really love to be there, and to have them up here, and never seem to have enough time together! Walking around their neighborhood, pretty little Clifton on the Gaslight, and watching "Harold and Maude" with them are two fond memories! Also the Pre-Easter barbecue at Mike's brother Frank's apartment, just two weeks ago! And Kristi even played us her Niagra Falls Documentary tape!!!! But I am getting ahead of my story! Let's get back to Arrowmont, where we taught a class, March 1-5.
This class was officially called "Collaborative Art Quilts," but we soon informed the students that OUR name for it was "Sharing Needles." Two students would pair up for the week, and work together on at least two pieces, sharing both embroidery needles and airbrushes, which also have needles in them. We also did applique and other Lucky School of Quilting techniques, and brush-on fabric paint. Above Marylou Kennelly, Marg Kuhl, and I are starting the group tee shirt project. Jimmy is the airbrush master, who keeps a class full of students going with his expertise and troubleshooting!
We worked on the fronts of the shirts first, and here Yvonne Bradley is adding some classy airbrush to the backs. We slaved for two days on the shirts, taking turns with two Aztek airbrushes going at once. It's the very best way to get used to running an airbrush. Everyone was busy with their other projects, too, at the same time.
During our classes, we try to stay a step ahead of the students, by demoing on one of our own pieces. Here I'm brush painting with Deka Permanent Fabric Paint, on our Dishtowel challenge project quilt, called "The Fridge / Emperor; Card #4 in The Kitchen Tarot." I was standing on a chair to reach this part. The big painted and airbrushed center part, the actual refrigerator, was also a class demonstration, as were other parts made later in the week.
March 3rd was Lily the Golden Retriever's seventh birthday. Here is her human, Bill Griffith, offering her the bone shaped cake he'd made, as we all sang Happy Birthday to Lily! She's the one and only dog at Arrowmont, an excellent and mellow guardian of the beautiful campus.
One of our students, Amy Pitts, brought in her husband David and their two year old son Noah, to have them try airbrush. Here everyone watched as Noah tried his first strokes with the Aztek. Jimmy and I both wonder what we'd have done with our art, if we'd had had airbrush lessons at age two!!!!!
Here are Amy, Marylou, and Meredith Re with Jimmy, chatting in their fancy new tee shirts on the last day of class, when we all modelled the shirts for the school's enjoyment, plus our own. It was pretty cold that week, so we had to wear warmer stuff under the tee shirts. I could lie and tell you that Jimmy was just wearing piles of other shirts over his exotic Sharing Needles shirt. The truth is that Jimmy wouldn't be caught dead wearing one of our wild class creations. Me? I have a whole stack of class tee shirts now, and could just live in them! Might try overdyeing some of them, since I look pretty pasty in white!
All week we did collaboration Show-and-Tells, first thing in the morning, as we gathered around a huge "family table." The teams got off to various degrees of working together on their small quilts, so I invoked the Class Points system. Whoever got the most points at the end of the week, won a prize! You had to keep track of your own points, in the diary book you made on our first morning together. Points counted for all kinds of reasons, including buying flowers, collaborating well together, being clean, using the most of our challenge fabric (chili peppers on purple), etc. You could call them Brownie Points.....whatever!!!! Above are Penny Smith and Meredith, showing us their work, on the last morning. They didn't win the Class Points prize though. It went to Sharon Rosenblatt, who accrued something like 1,423,568 points!
At left, Sharon (Sharon Needles, TO YOU) and Amy show us some of their art collaboration work from the class. These are examples of works which are both painted and appliqued, as well as embellished. They can be used as single "quiltlets" or joined with other pieces, to form larger works.
Mary McDonald shows us her blocks made with her partner Marg. One of the most interesting ways to collaborate was for each person to paint on a stack of at least two layers of fabric at once. The paint would soak through, and the under painting could be given to the partner to work on. In some cases, the artist chooses to keep the under fabric and give away the top painting. Anyhow, it's fun to see how others work with ones compositions!
When the Arrowmont class was over, we stayed an extra day, to hang out with our frineds Doug Hall and Cynthia Litchfield. Cindy had been a student of ours at Arrowmont several times, and Doug is the guy who got Jimmy involved in fly fishing. We split up into all boy and all girl teams for Saturday, and went our separate ways....
Doug took this shot of Jimmy fishing high in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was Jimmy's first experience of fishing there, but Doug has fished this area since he was a kid. He took Jimmy from one boulder strewn spot on a river to another, all day. Jimmy was exhausted that night, but was so full of excitement, he couldn't stop grinnin'!!!
Meanwhile, Cindy and I drove through the park to Cherokee, NC, and went to flea markets there. It was bitter cold on that side of the mountains, but we managed to shop fearlessly for hours! We found a wonderful 60's Swan Lake tapestry to share, and chopped it in two. I like to chop, remember! Now we're amassing fabrics to use with our halves of Swanny, to make ourselves wild totebags.
We got back together with the mens, tore around Pigeon Forge a while, watched South Park, and went on home the next day, stopping at Gretchen and Mike's again. Sure had fun down in Gatlinburg, as usual!!!!!
Back home, my niece Aimee Shie, who lives in Florida, came to visit us several times in the last two months, while she stayed with her dad's family. She found a quilt she had started here, two years ago, and we worked on it. Well, mostly she did, and she finished it. It's on her bed now. It's mostly machine sewn, so it's very different from most of the stuff she's done with me, but it surely went together a lot faster this way! When she dug it out of the closet, it wasn't even a finished top yet, so she did lots and lots on it this time. I was so pleased with how hard she worked. She's almost 19 now, a perfect age to really work hard on ones art!!!! Aimee also discovered a partly finished purse she'd been making here, and finished that, too! Looking at this quilt of hers, I'm challenged to think ahead to our anniversary quilt, which I add to every June, and which we sleep under. It always needs fabric repair, along with new appliques, every summer! The last two years, I've sewn paintings onto it, making quick and dirty additions, for Jimmy's anniversary presents!
On St. Patrick's Day, we went over to see my mom and dad at West View Manor. I dug out my Mardi Gras hat, which I'd embroidered in Alexandria, LA, years ago, after a late night haul at Wal-Mart with Debbie Barnes, and we all took turns wearing this honorary St. Paddy's hat, mugging for the camera. Here I actually coaxed Jimmy into wearing it! Dad took his turn, too. I can't get over it, that my father lets me take pictures of him now. He never liked having his photo taken and used to hide! So now I can't get enough pix of him!!! My mom is doing OK, except that now her Alzheimer's Disease is joined by a probably permanent side effect of her medications. Her tongue is swollen and out of control. She has it out a lot, and chews on it continually. It has to be very uncomfortable, to have her tongue out so much, since that makes it very dry. I wish so much we could help Mom go through this stage in her life more comfortably. All I know to do is to be with her as much as I can, and try to connect.
I got a call from my friend Kate Arango, who moved to Colombia, again, a few years ago. She is one of my best friends, and was my real partner in crime in Wooster for a few years, while she and her husband Luis were living here. Now they live in Buritaca, on the coast of Colombia, making their art, living simply, and working with the local people, to try to preserve nature. I'm so glad Kate's folks live in Wooster, so she has excuses to come around once in a while! She was in town for just a few days, so we hung out together and tried to catch up! Her parents polished off our St. Paddy's celebration with brownies and mint ice cream!!!!
So, here's our Fridge Quilt, still in progress, for the Dishtowel Show. It's further along now than when I took this picture maybe two weeks ago, but not a lot. If you remember, all the quilts for this project were to be done by Spring Equinox. Catchy! But, even tho we all had over a year to make them, I only have 15 images of quilts so far, and a few are in progress shots, like this! I gave everyone a reprieve, since Jimmy and I aren't done, either!!!!!
I am just now starting to create the online gallery show of The Dishtowel Quilt Project. You will be able to see it in progress now, but know that it will be filling out more, as I receive more images and have time to put them up. Hopefully there will be 35 quilts there eventually, by the middle of May!
And the actual real live show will be at Mansfield Art Center in Mansfield, Ohio, from June 6 to July 11, with a reception June 20, from 2 to 4 pm. All the diaries made to accompany the quilts will also be on display there. Hope you like the show! Considering that we all started with this weird little calendar dishtowel with a highly frumpy apple pie on it, the results are quite varied and wonderful!!!!
The Mansfield Art Center is a beautiful building, with a huge gallery space for our show! It's had several shows of Art Quilt Network's work, and always does a great job of presenting the art. Since Mansfield is only an hour north of Columbus on Rt. 71, participants of Q/SDS will hopefully be able to attend the reception, which falls on the middle Sunday of the symposium.
OK, off to work on that online gallery show AND to keep after our own quilt's completion! We'll be teaching at a school an hour from home later this month, and then preparing for going to Quilt National in late May, where Robin Schwalb and I will do our usual: We find the quintessentail GREEN QUILT, in the show there, and give out the GQ Award! That means I have to make a potholder sized art award quilt before then.
And, in case you're wondering where new St. Quilta paintings are, like the Pisces and Aries Blessings, keep your shirt on. It was either have a nervous breakdown, or not make them. So I didn't make any. But it'll happen later! And there are lots of other paintings already there to buy now!!!! I need to get back to doing more small art and less gigantic quilts that each take five months to make! The plan, when starting this web site, was to do one large quilt a year, and somehow, I got way sidetracked!!!
After this big old Dishtowel quilt, then we finish Issie's Trailer Court, then we get back to small, small quilts and paintings and the cards, and then, the next huge quilt should be the one to enter in QN '01. Let's see if I can really stick to that plan! Might get those St. Q astrology blessing paintings done sometime!
As for Turtle Art Camp, we're gearing up for the Summer Camps. Wanna come June 9-15? We still need a camper for that one, and other, later camps are open yet, too!
Hope you get Art/Quilt Magazine, and saw my article in the latest issue, #10. Many thanks to Lynn Lewis Young, for doing such a fine layout of it. It's five pages and has tons of my photos. Makes me long for yet more time each day, so I can submit stuff to magazines! That article is my only submission so far, in over 12 years of doing this art quilt stuff since grad school! I know, I know, sending to magazines is very important, and maybe now I'll try harder!
Last tidbit of news is that my two astrology books had to have a second printing already! (They're very small editions, and Staples does them up for me, tho I hand sew the bindings with floss.) This makes me really happy! Lucky Stars and Lucky Signs are back in action!
Ciao, love, Lucky Magnolia
P.S. Check out them Dishtowel quilts! Here are Jimmy's tooled and painted leather pie clones from the dishtowel! They live on our quilt now!
Turtle Moon Studios
Susan Shie and James Acord
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