Turtle Trax Diary. Page 40
January 31, 2003
Happy Chinese New Year Tomorrow!
by Lucky Magnolia (Susan Shie)
Here's my King Garden piece or Lucky Sampler, 4.75"h x 5"w, made in our January Turtle Art Camp. I've got a series going of these little pieces, as at the start of every camp or class out, we make a very small sampler, so we can get through all the Lucky School of Quilting Techniques in one day. My new Sampler series is about the restaurants we go to with the students, during camp. I have three other eatery samplers in progress, but this one is the only one actually finished yet. Chinese New Year resolutions include big plans to finish the ones in progress in the next few months, along with some other dangling stuff! Anyhow, King Garden is our favorite Chinese restaurant in Wooster, and even Robin Schwalb, my food snob pal from Brooklyn, loves to go there when she's in town!
Order my Year of the Sheep Calendar now! See its pix on the Books and Calendars page! It has lots of stories and advice about the Eastern and Western zodiacs in it, as well as all the cool holidays. Cover is hand sewn by me, and I glue a personal fortune cookie fortune onto each cover. Wonder what yours will say!
I'll keep making little editions of this calendar, since it is also a very good book about Eastern and Western astrology signs, in my playful and informative way!! Ha! So order it any time of the year!
Warning: I'm gonna try again to make a SHORT diary here!
Topics in this diary: "St. Quilta the Comforter Blesses the Year of the Snake" is completed; "Hattie Healing"; Nov, 02 Turtle Art Camp; "IZE's Trailer Court" is completed!!!!! ; Jimmy's 49th birthday: Jan, 03 Turtle Art Camp; "Flight of the Art Angels"; and "Lucky Sheep 2003 Dishtowel."
Hi everyone! I hope you're all keeping warm, wherever you are! This is a picture of the big snow we got on January 28! Really it's six inches of new snow, on top of what has been covering the ground for a long time now. What a winter we're having in Ohio, complete with temps diving below 0º over and over! Mike says Lake Erie is frozen over up where they live, and that doesn't happen very often. We're going to really love Spring, but winter's only half overwith on Groundhog Day, St. Bridget's Day (or Imbolc for you wild pagans out there!) Chinese New Year of the Black, Water Sheep is tomorrow, February 1. Chinese New Year always falls on the Aquarian New Moon, so Happy New Moon in one of my favorite signs, too!!!!
I started "St. Quilta the Comforter Blesses the Year of the Snake" in a camp here on February 29, 01 and finished it on October 18, 02, a year and a half later. It's 16" square, and there are three more paintings I made in the series. After taking so long to quilt and embellish this piece (of course with a lot of other stuff getting made during that time), I have decided it's not useful to me to make little series of paintings right now!
Well, one of the paintings became a barter with our friend Kerris Skyye, a trade for a great Tarot reading and a fabulous deck of Tarot cards! Another of the Snake paintings belongs to my friend Faye Geller, who's going to quilt it some day, maybe. Maybe not. And I probably still have the fourth painting here in my heaps, but think: I could have made four different paintings of different subjects during that painting marathon, instead of four paintings that are basically the same composition!
I think it's good to constantly evaluate what works and what doesn't. This worked, in some ways, but in others, it kinda made me feel stuck, thinking of the possibility of quilting another one of these paintings got to be a little depressing! Nope! Can't do that again. I liked doing it once, but once is enough!
This quilt will soon be going to its new owner, Martha Degen. Yea!!!!!
I started this little sampler in the September camp, and finished it on November 4. It's 5.75"h x 6"w, and is called "Hattie Healing," Its magic is still needed, since beloved Hattie continues to have leg problems. She healed up from her right rear leg surgery pretty much, and we were up to speed in our normal walks again, and then one day, out of nowhere, she was not wanting to walk and was carrying her OTHER back leg. We think she just used it too much, in recovering from her right leg ACL surgery. And the vet says Hattie has a lot of arthritis in her legs. She's seven years old!
It's so cold and snowy out this winter, I admit I've fallen off on walking her. She and I both are in great need of a body tune-up! Maybe we'll get going again soon, as a warm spell is supposedly starting now! Our one mile daily walks are missed very much by both of us, and we need to get out and patrol our pretty neighborhood!
Back to the Hattie sampler, I hand embroidered over all the writing and chicken stitched the background with pretty small stitches, which I seem to be addicted to now. I put in a little green glass Buddha bead, from Embellishment Cafe, along with some glass cat beads from there and from other sources.
When our November camp began, we had quite a blast! Barb Bruser of Cincinnati brought up a foam cooler of Graeter's Ice Cream, packed by the company in dry ice! None of us had ever handled dry ice before, so it was pretty stunning to see it in action. Here Patty Hieb of Seattle looks on as Barb weilds tongs to pull the ice cream containers out of the cooler. They were hard as rocks, too. We put the dry ice out on the patio, and on a mild day, it took several days for the ice to melt away, just sitting there!
Oh, and the ice cream was wonderful! Its five pints lasted us two ice cream sessions, I think! :) Graeter's is an ice cream Jimmy and I knew about, only because of Gretchen and Mike's eight years of living in Clifton, very near a Graeter's Ice Cream Parlor. It's one of those local Cinci treats, and somehow it went national, when Oprah had some sent to her in dry ice, Barb told us. Now the company will sell you one of their dry ice coolers of ice cream or mail it to you! Go find it on the web! Don't ask me!
Linda Kock, of Wellington, Ohio, was our third student in November camp, and along with Patty and Barb, enjoyed working with Deka Permanent Fabric Paint, the now-extinct and wonderful fabric paint that I still have some of. Deka quite making it a couple of years ago, so we're going to switch over to Setacolor, as the Deka runs out. You can bet I'll run out of Deka yellow first, because I always use, and encourage the students to use yellow first, since it's the most easily covered over color. Just don't put it where you want blue or purple, and you'll be fine. When I was a little kid, painting with my Prang watercolors...which I still use...the yellows would run out first, every time. Yellow is the weakest pigment, and red's the strongest, followed by purple.
Linda made a mermaid here, which she's hopefully gotten pretty well quilted by now, unless she's like me, and had lots of other projects to pick up again, after camp. My painting from this camp is at the end of this diary page, but I only finished it this soon, because I started it with a specific show entry deadline in mind. Deadlines have a way of making us focus! I highly recommend them!
This is the fake quilt we made at the end of the November camp, using everything we'd made during the five day class. My Angels piece is top left, next to Linda's mermaid, next to Patty's cat in a bag, next to Barb's weird face guy. Bottom row starts at left with Patty's birthday cake, my #12 Kitchen Tarot piece, and Barb's friendly couple! Our little samplers are in a clump near the top right corner.
Meeper, our big gray 14 year old Grand Dame cat, posed with Jimmy and me here. We've had the same herd of five indoor cats for four and a half years now, since fluffy little Marigold arrived on my birthday in 1998. Between them and Hattie, we spend way too much time cleaning up, and I think the herd will be allowed to naturally atrophy, but that will take another ten years! We take very good care of our "babies."
And, oh dear! Now there's Mooch, our outside cat, the little black cat, and his evil sidekick, the big yellow cat who looks too much like Willy. We suspect they both have a real home in the neighborhood, but Jimmy made a cardboard box bedroom on the patio for Mooch, and we're feeding them dry food, as long as this winter is so bitterly cold. We both agree that neither Mooch or Willy's Fat Twin will ever become a house cat with us. We've already got our hands full, keeping the warring factions apart here in the house! Want a cat? Want several?
Everyone was a little tired out, after the students had to cooperate to collaboratively create that fake quilt, and then I taught them how I sew quilts together on the wall, making them each do a few stitches horizontally and vertically. And of course, then we ripped it all apart, after this great photo op! Back to work, until it's time to leave in the morning! Everyone knows to not pack their lap work, so we can hang out one last evening, watching TV maybe, and sewing and laughing.
A real watershed experience was finishing my four and a half year project "IZE's Trailer Court" on Jimmy's birthday. Ta Da!!!! It's 65"h x 68"w, and will soon go to its owner, Elizabeth Cherry Owen in Baton Rouge, who commissioned it in May, 1998. But for now, it's at its first and maybe only art show, at The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The show has five separate artists, six if you count Jimmy and me separately, and is called "Language Arts: Text as Imagery." We have eight quilts there, and my dear friend, Robin Schwalb, has a bunch, as well.
The Trailer Court is a perfect piece for this show, since everything on it is loaded down with text that's hand embroidered. The strips that hang down are my IZE Haiku, stories that Elizabeth told me about each person and cat in the pretend trailer court, and which I distilled to short lines, trying to keep the charm of her tales intact. Each of the 3-D figures of the people and cats has their name embroidered on it, as well as lots of surface textures, heavily embroidered and beaded. Each person has their own little trailer, too, and in the center of the trailer court is a statue of St. Quilta the Comforter, with an astrology zodiac instead of a clock, in her belly. Well, the "statue" is another quilted figure, sewn on like the others, only much, much bigger.
Here you see a close-up of the St. Q statue and her astrology wheel "clock" in her belly. She does have a pocket watch face on her pillbox hat, but it has no hands, which I guess means that time stands still in IZE's Trailer Court. She's got her frumpy crocheted cross on her chest, only here it's just embroidered. (Seldom has it really actually been done in real crochet in my pieces, but it has been, a few times.) And she's got a neat big third eye, making her clearly the TC's seer! What do you think of her swanky lime green lipstick? Below the astrology wheel, there's a bunch of hand embroidered writing on her black velvet "skirt," but you can't see it here. Go see it in San Jose, but hurry! The show ends March 16.
To St Q's right, or our left in this picture are IZE and her husband Barry Sochat, whose figure's body front has a base fabric that was trimmed off the bottom of IZE's wedding dress, to alter it. Since I was painting her wedding shoes, she had sent me a sample of the fabric to match my rose painting to, and with that, I knew I had to add the new groom to the trailer court. This was a little over a year ago. (They got married on Dec 29, 2001.) I just couldn't see her owning that piece without Barry being represented in it!
In the last month of working on the TC, I realized IZE had made a bunch of other new friends, besides marrying Barry, since commissioning the quilt. So I had her make a little list, and I made seven more figures out of polymer clay this time, instead of making more of the fabric 3-D figures. The little clay people are scattered around the quilt, along with a long little blue van, marked ITC (IZE's Trailer Court), which is the airport shuttle that conceptually brings these clay friends to visit the place... since I didn't make more little trailers for the clay people to stay in! There are enough trailers there to fill the space, so I decided to enact Zoning Rules! The place is hereby FULL! :)
On Nov 26, Jimmy turned 49, and we had a little party during Shie Night, with our housemate Floyd and my brother Jimmy and our nephew Jacob all here. Jimmy's mom and brother Gary stopped over, too. I made Jimmy a quickly drawn card, with him and our boy cat Willy toasting with two Guinnesses..
Next birthday is his 50th! I'll be 53 by that time, so he'll always seem young to me! And since I'm his hair cutter, I can tell you that, even tho his hair is thinning, there's no sign of balding, and very little graying. I, who with my albinism, was born with white hair, thought I'd never have to worry about going gray. But now I've had people ask me if I USED TO have dark hair..... There is no escape, somehow! So Jimmy can just stick around me, coz now I guess people think I'm beyond gray and on to white! He'll always look young by my side!
Here's an extension of Jimmy's birthday, as Mike and Gretchen gave him his present two days later at Thanksgiving up in Lakewood. They'd been to an Irish store and got him a big Guinness glass, along with a Guinness bar towel and some coasters. See how happy?????
They've solved the issue of which set of parents' house to go to for Thanksgiving, by having all of us come to their house for two years, and this time we all went to Mike's brother Frank and Kristi's place, next to Mike and Gretchen's. Then for Christmas, all of us went to Mike's folks' place (in our first real blizzard of this exciting winter!) Next holiday, we should gather at Mike's brother Brian and Heather's place, and THEN maybe we can get all those Millers to come down to Wooster!
We had a little Holiday Art Camp between Christmas and New Year's. Here is our student Robin Hartman of Cincinnati, Ohio, who was the only student, in the end. she arrived on a Friday afternoon and left about the same time the next day.
Here she is writing the diary work on her Lucky Sampler, which was about loving to eat sushi.
You can see the start of my own Restaurants of Wooster Lucky Sampler from that class, in front of her. Mine's about El Canelo, our fave Mexican place. With the little Lucky Samplers about the eateries, I'll be able to show those to the weeklong camp students from now on, instead of just moving the clothespins that have restaurants' names on them, from one side of my clothesline in the studio to the other. So far, that's been how we keep track of what places we've eaten at, and which we still have to select from, for the rest of the camp nights! But in a while, we'll have my fancy new Restaurant Samplers to go by!
Here's Robin's partly finished piece, about 6" square, about how much she loves to eat sushi! Some of the writing is darker, because that's the part that she'd already gotten the hand embroidery done on.
I love the chopsticks, which she embellished with gold bugle beads.
But if she were staying longer, I'd have talked her into waiting til all the embroidery was done, before beading anything. You risk having the beads become loose on the quilt surface, if you add more stitching, and thus shrink it down more, after beading it.
So I warned Robin all about being careful to not let that happen, by paying super good attention to the tension of her stitches, when she went back later to sew more of the writing and to add more to the quilted background work.
But if she'd stayed another day even, we wouldn't have gotten to any of the beading demo stuff til after all the sewing of the quilted embroidery was done! Sometimes you have to bend the rules tho, and getting in that bead lesson was more important this time!
I made "St Q's Kitchen Shoes" especially for our local artists' support group WAGE's 2003 show, The Shoe Show, which opened on January 9 and will close February 14 at Wayne Center for the Arts. The piece is 33.5"h x 23"w, and is very, very detailed in its hand embroidery. I made it as a whole cloth airbrush painting, and ended up writing most of the diary on it in little segments, as I got free to work on them, as I sewed. All the writing is hand embroidered, as well as the background surfaces being all hand sewn with tiny stitches. When I get it back, I need to add a lot more beading to it, but just plain ran out of time!
In the piece, St Quilta is flipping pancakes in a big iron skillet (which is what Jimmy really does at home), and she's wearing a pair of beautifully crafted leather heels, which I really own. I bought the real shoes at the Goodwill, just because of their wonderful leather appliques in bright colors. At the show, the shoes sit on a pedestal, beside the quilt, and there's one of my favorite dishtowels under the shoes, as ... a fashion statement??
The January Turtle Art Camp students went with me to the opening, and we all had a great time!
"Big Shoe Love" is the second piece I put in the WAGE Shoe Show. It's airbrushed, and has writing on it in airbrush, paint marker, and airpen.
I started the painting at CraftSummer in Oxford, OH, at Miami U, before Gretchen and Mike's wedding back in 2000. I was so worried about having to paint her wedding shoes, which had gotten dyed the wrong color and didn't match her dress at all. So this painting was sort of my sketchbook for what the shoes might look like. You can see her real shoes, after I painted them, too!
Back here at the painting, I put it away for a long time, with only the black outline drawings made with my airbrush on it, and then picked it up again in 2002, because of our Shoe Show theme. But it seemed too cute, too Hallmark to me. After almost deciding to not use it in the show and making the Kitchen Shoes piece above, I got it out again and finished it with a lot more airbrush and the airpen, which is giving me some major fits in learning to use it well!
This piece is an unstretched painting on canvas, probably never to be quilted, because the canvas is very heavy. It has grommets at the top and hangs well, with a nice, soft drape effect. It's 60"h x 61"w.
Here is the main pack of wild things in the January, 2003 Turtle Art Camp. Jimmy isn't in the picture, because he was taking it. It's me; Joyce Anne Solmos (green tee shirt), of Valparaiso, IN; Maralyn O'Connell (in the purple), of Cambridge, OH; and Susan Gertz, of Middletown, OH. I need to put in the picture of the whole quilt that we're standing in front of here, but right now, snooty PageMill won't take it! And it's one of the best fake quilts students have ever made here, maybe THE best! I'll be back later with that picture, maybe if I can get it to work after reinstaling the program. Ugh.
OK. This is the most beautiful "fake quilt" I think the students in a camp have ever made. It has everything in it that we worked on all week, and I suggested to the students that they could add extra fabrics, to simulate what would be fill in work, if you were really going to make a quilt. I think I'll have them have that option from now on, because they got a much more evolved composition.
The idea is that the artist really making this quilt would have to make quilted panels or shims out of the fabrics added to fill in. I sew my conglomerate quilts together on the work wall, so I showed them all how to do "the right moves" to sew vertically and horizontally, at the wall, working down from the top. This is so they can all go home and make their own smaller pieces into a larger one.
To make this composition of the students' and my work from this week, I left them to their own devices, as I always do with this final project. They had to really work together and agree on their decisions. I love collaboration and think we all need to know how to work in teams.
Of course the fake quilt is only sewn a little bit and is dissembled right away, after our photo op!
Susan Gertz' Lucky Sampler is an ancient symbol of the tribe of Levi, which she is descended from. Making the fingers in such a small format was a real challenge, but she solved it beautifully, I think.
Here's Joyce Anne's Lucky Sampler, part of our first project in camp. I've never seen such a fine fried egg in my life! I wish my image of it were a little better in focus. Sorry, Joyce Anne!
In camp, Maralyn made this painting and beginning of a quilt, about her family's childhood vacation cabin in Pennsylvania, at Harmony. She did it with fabric paint, not airbrush, and she wrote lots of her childhood memories around the edges and in the piece. I know she's working hard now to get it all quilted.
While she was painting this, I was doing some more of my Airpen experiments and almost wrecked the piece below, which was already partly stitched. I messed up big time, making blotches on one of the angel wings, and only salvaged it by stitching over the black blobs so much, you don't see them anymore. But Maralyn's piece has such fine lines on it, we woulda killed it with that Airpen. Maybe next camp I'll have this fussy little tool under control, but not yet. I think airbrush is much more tolerant of surface and paint consistency, but I suppose to be fair, the jury should still be out.
My hand painted quilt "Flight of the Art Angels" was begun in the November camp, and I picked it up to work on again, in the January camp, and worked on it every day since then, all day, taking slides of it this week, in the nick of time for the show entry deadline...which I also met!... for the Aullwood Audubon Center's nature theme show this year, "Flight." They chose this theme, because the Wright Brothers were from Dayton, and this is the centennial year of their first flight of an airplane. So for the theme, you could do anything about flight. My piece is about how we feel and sometimes even think we see angels of dead friends or relatives. Even in dreams. There's this knowing that they're around. Well, some of us know it, others don't. Usually I'm the one who sees or hears or feels these guardians, but in this picture, I had Jimmy be the one who sees, while I just seem to be listening, not really aware of the presence of two great big sparkly angels.
What gave me the idea for this piece was our finding out, unexpectedly, that Richard Rosenblum, another artist who taught with us at CraftSummer at Miami U in Oxford, OH, had died in early September. We didn't know Richard well, but really loved him. He did the uncredited illustrations in the 50s or 60s version of the Better Homes and Gardens spiral bound cookbook, with the funky little women and their families, so Dick Van Dyke Show in perfect hominess! He illustrated children's books and taught that at CraftSummer.
Thinking of Richard's death made me think of my friend Luanne Moffat's death from cancer in 1991. I still feel her presence, and hope I always do. So I decided to make a piece about her and Richard together, and to welcome Richard to become one of my art muses, if he has time. I know Luanne has been a muse for me for years, as I often hear her dry little comments about art and life, in my head.
The big yellow face in the bottom left of the quilt is my mom as St. Q, also as Gretchen's cookie jar (the Hey, Diddle Diddle one we used to keep for her, which she took to her place last year finally.) And that Mom, St Q, cookie jar is also a big crystal ball in this piece, helping me "see" things. Oh, and the owls are more Flight symbols, but they especially represent the 30 patio owls we turn on, on our patio every night. Except on nights sometimes in the winter, when we have to use the outdoor outlet to plug in our roof heaters. Pooey! I have owl glass beads from Embellishment Cafe and other sources on the piece's borders, along with some little chick beads, since chickens can fly a little, too, if their wings aren't clipped! I guess these are wild chickens - chookies, Daddy called them.
When I drew the piece in November, I wasn't trying to get this look of listening on my face, but that's what I see there now, as a viewer. I've got my pen poised, waiting for thoughts to come into my head, which is what I do, and then I just write or draw. And there's all this action around me, with the angels bending down, Luanne even touching my arm, and my mom definitely getting a bang out of the whole thing...I mean the cookie jar is. (Mom is one of my angels, for sure, having died in October, 2001.) The little polymer clay faces stuck around here and there, like the one tucked under my right arm, are more little muses, because I think the air is thick with spirit, right here with us, but in another dimension. Well, that may sound cracked to you; I know it does to Jimmy! He keeps me grounded, that's for sure! And it's not that I dwell on this stuff. I just know it, when I stop and think about it.
I started on a goal a year ago, to make a lot more quilts in much less time, by doing some machine sewing on them, instead of so much hand work. I had to drop out of a big journal pages project, the one Karey Bresenhan organized for Houston , because I couldn't work that way, gaining speed but losing the textures I love. Instead, my work all this last year got more and more detail oriented, with more and more tiny quilting stitches really caked on. Almost all my writing is hand embroidered over now, and I was trying to let it go, to just leave it be painted. Jimmy got me the Airpen for Christmas, but I can't get the thing to cooperate yet, so am still stitching all the words I cna find time to! But I do hope to have that sucker figured out and running smoothly for me very soon. Between that and the airbrush and my hand sewn words, I'll have plenty of writing textures. Oh, and also the work has a little of Jimmy's machine sewing over my writing, when I can get him to do that. He says he'll do it anytime I want, but he's super busy with his leatherwork now, and I hate to bother him.
Be on the lookout for Jimmy's huge article in the Volume I, Issue #4 offering of Art of Angling Journal. It's due to come out any time now! And his work will be so well presented in that fine, coffee table style magazine, really more like a book. I think you can buy single issues from the site, and all the fly fishing shops will have it.
The image at left is of a hand tied fly Jimmy carved and painted, along with another fly, a company logo, and two trout, on a huge three rod case he just finished for a customer in Boston.
If you've never taken time to pop over to look at Jimmy's site, please take the time. He also makes handbags with images custom tooled onto their hand made surfaces!
Well, girls and boys, it's time to take off again for a while, to go make art and maybe even find time to start renewing the sad little galleries on this site. My intention in making the diary smaller was to free up time for the rest of the site to get some long awaited attention, so I'll be back on May 1, with my next installment of this Turtle Trax Diary. By then we'll be thinking GARDENS! I always hope to get ours started by then, and maybe this year, Spring will come early in Ohio, since the winter's being so nasty! Or maybe I'll at least get some weeding done, before Robin shows up for our Spring Fling, in which we'll all go down to Quilt National together and choose and present our GREEN QUILTS Award, during the QN weekend festivities!
Oh, I almost forgot: Jimmy and I are part of a bunch of artists giving little talks at the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) meeting on Friday, May 23, at the Quilt National private opening day. (QN opens to the public on Sat, May 24.) Debra Lunn, artist and co-owner of Lunn Fabrics, is one of the presenters, as well.
Thanks for reading this. See you again May 1. Peace to the world. Lucky
Oh, one more thing. This is a painting I made in mid December, on muslin, 35"h x 25.5"w. Let's call it "Lucky Sheep: 2003" and see if that sticks! It was the first image I made about this Year of the Sheep thing that starts tomorrow. I hope to be able to quilt it sometime, but the reality is that I already have four more paintings or started quilts to work on in The Kitchen Tarot series, and I really need to keep working on them! This isn't part of that series. Maybe it'll be my 2003 Dishtowel!??? Maybe that's a better title..."Lucky Sheep 2003 Dishtowel." I could just hem it and use it! :)
Turtle Moon Studios
Susan Shie and James Acord
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