Monday, December 31, 2012

Student Mail Art Exchange

 I don't care what anyone says, I love the post office. But before I climb too high atop my public vs private enterprise soapbox I'll tell you the most recent reason for my love. You may remember some of my past forays in mail art- so, I was over the moon excited to participation in a mail art swap with my friend Michael's high school sculpture class. I don't actually know much about how he started the project- I would be curious, actually, to hear what prompts he gave to the students. We, the artists participating in the swap, were just told to respond to the piece we received in the mail.

Piece 1: Student work

The writing on the front of the wood block reads, "solid."

 The back reads,  "cracked."

The sides are labeled with the same two words.

Piece 2: My work

I decided to respond predominantly to the first piece's state of contradiction:  the wood block cannot be both solid and cracked, yet it is. Fibers is the language I speak, so fibers is the language I responded with.

(The miracle of water-soluble interfacing.)

The text was another element of the original piece that I was drawn to. Therefore, I labeled my own postcard with a similarly contradictory word.

My postcard is both solid and flexible.

My biggest regret is how long it took me to get back to my partner. (Shaaame.) It's so different working in the "real" world... with  job and another job and a life... without the structure of a class to keep me on my game. (I'd like to say that my second response was any more timely but, let's be honest. Nope.) At least I wasn't the only one!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fun-A-Day 2013

I always forget about Fun-A-Day until the last day of December. Every time.

Which is even more ridiculous when you consider that I helped (only sort of) to instigate Chicago's participation this year! Huzzah! Thanks mostly to the super-powers of Rachel Wallis and her team of heroes, our fine city's month-long projects will be displayed at the Threadless Retail Shop (3011 N. Broadway.)

The fun starts tomorrow with our official kickoff event, for which I’ll be doing the workshop on fabric yoyos! Also called rosettes, yoyo quilts were common during the great depression when inventive seamstresses had little-to-no funds for new materials. They’re a great use of scrap fabric. I love sewing them together to make jewelry, or onto clothes for a little extra decoration. A simple, beautiful project: perfect for fun-a-day!

You guys. I love fun-a-day. I've done it twice: the first year I only made it to the 22nd (Animal Combination Drawing a-day). Then I learned that the secret is aiming low so as to not got overwhelmed... and I ended up with one of my favorite projects! (Knot-a-day!)

I've been in sort of a (3 year) art making slump... so I'm going to try to use the next month as a jumping off point for some new work.

Sky Swatch-A-Day!

This time for real. One swatch a day, and then I'll work through and complete a piece with the swatches in time for the show in February. I have a few ideas... and I'm excited to start!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Actually Love Actually

Look, I love me some Love Actually. I await the month of December with bated breath and tingly feels of anticipation for Love Actually Season. I usually instigate my first viewing upon the first of the month and watch it an embarrassing number of times between then and Christmas when I force myself, a little heartbroken, to put it back on the shelf for another whole year. (Absence make crazymoviefeels grow stronger?)

I mean I love it. Actually.

But here's the thing.

Love Actually presents itself as a heartfelt romantic movie with someone for everyone to relate to. It's characters range from older and married to elementary-aged schoolkids and the relationships they stumble through don't all end up happily ever after. That covers all the bases, right?

Yeah, no. What it covers is romantic entanglements for upper-middle class white people. Some of whom are over fifty! (No, no it can't be true!)

Take, for example, the relationship between Hugh Grant's Prime Minister and his (slightly pudgy) staffer. (Did you guys notice how pudgy she was?) He's a rich, white man with GOBS of literal power and she's... not even a political aide. ("Who do I have to shag around here to get a chocolate biscuit?" Get it? Cause she's fat.) Their strife strikes in the form of another rich, white, evenmorepowerful man who takes advantage of the staffer's shyness and lack of self-confidence. (Why wouldn't she be confident? It's not like she's fat or anything.) I mean, it must have been her fault. Better punish her.


I mean srsly. Besides the obvious power/gender dynamic at play here, the comedy of this storyline falls so heavily on fat shaming that we're supposed to think even higher of Grant's character because he sees past her weight. (Except for, you know, when he teases her about it at the end of the film. Because it's not a big deal, right?)

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Enter Ms. Feminist Killjoy and, yeah, that might be kinda true here but remember- I LOVE Love Actually and have no intention of putting an end to my annual squealfest over Martin Freeman's perfect perfect face. Maybe the crux of it comes down to this: how do you reconcile escapism when the paradigms of that fantasy are not based on a reality you support even if they make you effusively, squidgily happy?

With that said, I present to you a proposal:

Actually Love Actually:

A movie with the same concept- finding love all around us in the real world- but one that actually shows diversity: age, race, class, hetero/homonormativity, disability, weight, power/agency, etc.
The premise of Love Actually (the original) is that "love actually is all around us;" that within the thrum of mundane, regular life lies the potential for drama, romance and, yes, love. How powerful would it be to see that kind of casual acceptance, even exaltation, of individuals outside the hollywood spectrum?

Somebody please, please, write this movie.

I'll help. By sending you chocolate biscuits. No shagging necessary.

Now excuse me, I have to go watch Love Actually and flail around my apartment.


That's it. I quit. Nothing will ever be as perfect as this wall covering.

Two summers ago I printed some wallpaper that was the weather worn shingles found on the buildings at Maine's legendary Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. As an experiment I found it interesting and it lead me to do a lot of thinking about outside vs inside walls and verisimilitude, etc etc.

But this?? Swoooon.


This wall covering is a perfect example of the simple, graceful design that grows naturally out of following a material from it's source all the way to it's destination. The wool for Filature Arpin (located in a small mountain community in eastern France) is harvested from local sheep and is processed on site: the company estimates that their fabric goes through 17-24 stages in the production process including shearing, washing, drying, spinning, weaving, and fulling/felting.
Did I mention Swoon? Because SWOOOOOOOON.

(Photo and story found in the most recent issue of Salvedge magazine.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blue is the Sky

 June 27, 2012 // 9:06am // Foster & Damen // Facing SW // 45* up // Color: Ocean Tropic

June 28, 2012 // 10am // Drury Lane, Oakbrook // Facing WNW // 45* up // Color: Colorado Springs

June 29, 2012 // 8:33pm // Kitchen window, home // Facing N // 30* up //  Color: Jazz Blue

June 29, 2012 // 8:55pm // Kitchen window, home // Facing N // 30* up // Color: Sailor

July 5, 2012 // Drury Lane, Oakbrook //  Facing S // 15* up // Color: Utah Sky

July 7, 2012 // 6:22pm // Target parking lot, Hillside // Facing N // 45* up // Color: Pure Periwinkle

July 9, 2012 // 4:04pm // Lillstreet Art Center // Facing E // 45* up // Color: French Country Blue

July 8, 2012 // 2:32pm // North Ave Beach // Facing E // 30* up // Color: Pure Periwinkle

Friday, June 29, 2012

Color Gravity

Ever since prepping for a lecture on color theory for my Fabric Design class I have found myself increasingly, you know, a little bit kind of sort of maybe a smidge COMPLETELY OBSESSED with color.

What does that even mean? Yeah, okay, color is everywhere... and maybe my new-found enthusiasm has something to do with the brilliant (read: neon) solid colors all over the damn place (read: pinterest) but, every time I see a great color, my eyes widen, my heart beats faster and I gasp aloud in excited awe. In his book, "Winter's Tale," author Mark Helprin describes a character who exhibits something called color gravity. Pearly Soames, mob boss and criminal extraordinaire, lives his life dictated by this pull by color: he steals paintings, desires nothing more than to build an entire room out of gold and even stops on his way to a gang war to watch a coat of emerald-colored paint be applied to the doorposts of a saloon. "'Put more on,' he said. 'I like to see it when it goes on, when it's wet. There's an instant of glory'" (23).

 The backside of a building on Milwaukee as seen from Spaulding.

I feel a little like that these days. Besides stopping in awkward places to gawk openly and sometimes shoot seemingly inexplicable photos, I've been going back and rereading a lot of the color theory that was pressed on us in school. Josef Albers? Yeah, that guy might have been a genius.

Demonstration of one of Albers' exercises: how to make one color look like two by positioning it on different backgrounds.

Nowhere has my color gravity been stronger than when I'm looking at the sky. That thing is crazy blue... I mean, right? Enter RadioLab's completely amazing episode on Color. (Listen to it. Listen to in NOW. Go ahead, I'll wait. ... AMAZING, RIGHT?) There's this bit at the end about how long it took us (humanity?) to pinpoint/identify/own the color of the sky as being blue. Even children, when not explicitly told has difficulty naming the color for a number of years. This concept goes completely against the way I think about how I relate to the sky.

What I think of as the "Philly Skywindow Building." It was a building located between my job in Philly and where I would park my car. On some days I would pass it the sky would be exactly the same color as the painted wood that boarded up the long-abandoned windows. It was as if I was looking straight through the building. Or.. as if the building was trying to be the sky. It was awesome.

All of which as lead me here, to my most recent compulsion: color matching the sky.

June 25, 2012. 6:12pm. DLO Parking Lot. Facing North, 45* above the horizon. Color: Running Water.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with this project but, that's the whole point of art, right? The act of doing is sometime the catalyst for the art or even becomes the art itself. In any case, I'm enjoying the doing... even if it requires carrying an absurd number of paint swatches and looking damn crazy on the side of the road for 10 min at a time. 



Sunday, May 13, 2012


... almost...

... almost...




Yeeeaaaah.... these guys make me really really happy.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Practice Makes

I've been out of school for almost five years now. It's not what I planned... because I did have a plan. And it was a rather good plan at that. Grad school, teaching, settling down. Yeah, not so much. There are lots of reasons the plan hasn't worked out and it's easy to get down on myself for not doing more. You know. MORE: more art, more shows, more money... more work.

But sometimes it's worth reminding myself that I haven't been idle. (Ha, right? Those of you who know me probably wouldn't come up with the word "idle" to describe me. Workaholic, maybe...) But sometimes idle is how I feel- the part of idle that refers to worth. Maybe it's my rigorous art school background that demands that I appraise all of my creative actions on a societal scale of value: the larger, more physically tangible and conceptually ethereal the better. Maybe that's just not how I work. I'm starting to suspect that it may never have been how I worked.

Nobody has told my brain that, though.

That's where my sketchbooks come in.

I don't do much drawing, but I always always have something to write down: ideas, notes, words, lists, concepts, worries, plans, schemes... And so here I am, five years later, suddenly with tangible evidence of my working

I started a new sketchbook this morning and it simultaneously felt like starting over and continuing on: like a reaffirmation of my identity. I don't know yet how that comfort relates to the plan, or even if it does at all. I don't know if I should promise myself to try to get out of my sketchbook and into my studio more or if I should throw myself head first into the sketchbook and guilt be damned. I just don't know. 

But I do know it was a good morning. 

Practice Makes is a reminder to myself that any doing is doing, any thinking is in the right direction. Much like a yoga practice, you have to allow yourself to be effected by your art practice and nurture it lovingly and with patience. Practice doesn't have to make perfect, but all practice changes you. All practice makes.

Spring 2012: Chicago

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gardener's Log: Stardate 4-29-2012

I love my Sunday mornings: while the farmer's market is on Spring hiatus, Rebecca and I have been spending all of Sunday morning in the garden. I have to leave for class at 1:30 but from 10am until then, I know where I'll be and what I'll be doing. It turns out that a limited weekly schedule is pretty perfect for novice gardeners like us. We get the time we need to get everything done without have enough time to get carried away or over-attentive. (Gardening mother hens? Mayhaps perchance.) Weekly intervals are also great for staggering planting and doling out the time between now and summer when things really start to happen.

We've been putzing for the last few weeks months: painting pots, prepping beds, reading about soil content (nerds)... but today we finally got some stuff in the ground. YES. LET THE VEGGIES GROW.

(Click on any of the photos to go to my flickr- lots of  notes and thoughts about each plant.)

 Carrots and the first round of beets: planted! 

We'll plant another two rows of beets every other week for a "continuous harvest" which sounds very official. Also delicious.

 Not just seedlings any more!

Five types of tomatoes. They're going to have to get thinned out, I know, but I just couldn't help putting so many in the ground.

Rebecca: "That was actually way more mint than I wanted in my mouth at one time. At least my breath is minty fresh now."

You guys. Mint? Turns out it's kind of invasive. After letting it grow way way past it's little fence all spring, we really had to clear some of it out to make room for the (craploads of) tomatoes. We had some extra mint. Now now, I know what you're thinking: "what do you MEAN EXTRA MINT??" But fear not! 1.) There's PLENTY MOREJITOS A'COMIN and 2.) Please. You know I can't actually throw any plants away. 

SEE?? Who wants mint?!

Free to a good (and local) home. Mmm.. Apparently, I eat a lot of yogurt. Lucky for some of you, that means you get mint. Yum!

High five team garden!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Starting the Garden 2012

I've been a bit lax about updating my blog. Work, identity crises, work, and the need to find some time to sleep (occasionally) have kept me from thinking and writing about art. Also keeping me from art? My sudden, burning, all-consuming neeeed to garden ALL OF THE TIME.

You guys.

This years garden? Is going to be LEGEN(waitforit)DARY.

Seed Savers
I got (almost) all my seeds this year from the Seed Savers Exchange, a company that specializes in organic and/or heirloom veggie, herb and flower seeds. They're awesome! Gaze upon my rainbow of veggies-to-be!

I'm also really excited about having a gardening buddy this year. Last year, my garden was a meditative source of solace while I was going through a season of change. This year, ROOTS difinitively. My friend Rebecca is awesomely working with me to create the best possible garden results!! 

Also? She usually brings beer. BONUS! We started our seeds indoors back in March.

I would say that this is my favorite part of the whole gardening process, that moment when the first seeds in the first seed pods start to germinate and grow... but I know from experience that I'd continue to tell  you all season long that each step was my favorite. ALL OF THE STEPS ARE MY FAVORITE.

Yeah, this would be why I haven't been getting very much work done lately. My studio seems to have become a temporary greenhouse. Oops? The tomatoes jiggle and sway when I use my ancient sewing machine on my rickety card table... I feel a little guilty about shaking them up so much but it makes my studio smell like tomatoes which makes me really happy.

We were lucky enough to get a bizarre heat spell in April which allowed us to get outside early and start prepping stuff.

I've been gathering a ton of ideas for garden designs from pinterest (my one true love). We need a ton of pots for all the annuals... Not sure what we'll do with the pallets but they were right there in the alley! We couldn't just pass them up.

Spray painting pots. And yes, we did establish a color scheme in advance. You better believe I've got a whole Garden 2012 sketchbook with schedules, notes, color swatches and samples. What. Once and artist, always an artist. 


The pots along the garage wall will hold climbing veggies like peas, beans and cucumbers. Most of the plants shown here are gonna get moved around... I'm waiting for more of my seedlings to mature before I do a bunch of moving stuff around. The raised bed (shown here housing the overly tall and ugly dusty millers that should have died off over the winter) will eventually hold root-type veggies: beets, carrots, leeks aaaand chard, I think. 

This project is Rebecca's baby: a potato condo!! The idea is, as the potato plants grow taller and taller you can add boards up the side of the frame so that the container gets deeper and deeper. Bonus? If you get impatient, you can pry off the lowest board mid-season and pull out a couple of fingerlings. Haha, genius! She built the frame out of reclaimed wood purchased at The Rebuilding Exchange which is why they are already so lovely and weathered-looking.  She planted three types of potatoes... red, white and blue! NOM. 

In the interest of making my first blog entry inlikeforevs a reasonable length, I won't make you look at aaaallll of the pictures of my plant babies I can't seem to stop taking. (They're like babies or cats! I can't seem to stop photographing them! They're just so darn cute!) HOWEVER, there are a bunch- and will definitely be more- on my flicker. Gaze upon their visage !

Stay tuned! The gardening season is just beginning in earnest... we'll see if I get any sewing or art done at ALL until harvest. YEESH.

And by "yeesh," clearly I mean SWOOOOOOOOOOOON.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winter Session Come and Gone

Let's be honest: everything I do these days worth blogging about is at Lillstreet. Thaaat... or... their required blog schedule is the only thing keeping me up to date these days. One of the two!

* * * * *

I can't believe it's already July! Wait... March? What month is it?! It's jarring to say that we just finished Winter Session but, there it is. I had a great time with my classes! Here are some highlights from the past 10 weeks:

First Time Sewing:

First Time Sewing: Handbags!

First Time Sewing: Aprons!

First Time Quilting:

First Time Quilting: Erin's Log Cabin Project
Log Cabin Variations!

Multilevel Sewing Projects:

Multilevel Sewing Projects: Clay ponders his EPIC messenger Bag
Clay ponders his epic messenger bag...

Multilevel Sewing Projects: Clay's Epic Messenger Bag
So epic!

Multilevel Sewing Projects: Meagan's completed skirt!
Meagan's skirt: with zipper and pockets!

Multilevel Sewing Projects: Susan's American Girl Doll Sleeping Bag to-be
Susan's American Girl Doll Sleeping Bag!

Whew! Good times! And the Spring Session is shaping up to be just as exciting! Hope to see you in the classroom!


Monday, March 5, 2012

New Spring Classes for Lillstreet!

Blog Preview! I'm not scheduled to post for Lillstreet until Thursday but because I'm feeling particularly productive this morning, I've already done it! Here's a sneak preview of... the exact blog that will go up Thursday morning. :0)

* * * * *

It's almost Spring! I'm starting to see tiny crocuses poking out of the ground and the Lillstreet Spring Catalog is open for registration! I've got two brand new classes this session that I'd love to tell you a little more about:

Metal on Material (10 Weeks)

Thursday, March 29, 2012 to Thursday, May 31, 2012, 6:30-9:30pm

Level: MultiLevel (Beginner to Advanced)

(Pin by Ashley Gilreath)

Work in both the textiles and metalsmithing departments as you learn how to combine two different materials work while working with both textile and metalsmithing techniques to create wearable or sculptural art for body adornment, jewelry, small sculpture or wall pieces. Fiber techniques including felting, dyeing, embroidery and hand sewing will be covered, and the metalsmithing component will teach you how to saw-pierce, texture, solder and fold form metal. No experience necessary. Materials fee covers materials for first project. Additional metal may be purchased from instructor. $30 materials fee.

Ashley Gilreath and I have been plotting and planning this class for months! We're hoping it will provide an opportunity for students of metals, textiles or neither to experiment and explore the combination of these two realms. We'll look at texture, color, pattern and lots of construction methods. It's gonna be so much fun!

Because the possibilities are endless, I've also started an inspirational pinboard for this class on pinterest. Follow the link to see some really beautiful metal/textile pieces!

Register for Metal on Material here!

Fabric Design and Print Exchange (10 Weeks)

Monday, March 26, 2012 to Monday, May 28, 2012

Level: MultiLevel (Beginner to Advanced)

(Fabric Design by PennyCandy for Spoonflower.)
Perfect for sewers and crafters who want to expand their practices! Are you comfortable with your sewing skills, but want to use fabrics designed AND sewn by you? This course focuses on surface design- specifically, repeat patterns and an exploration in color theory in relation to the finished object. Traditional and digital printing design techniques will be discussed. The final project will be a class-wide fat quarter print exchange. Great for quilters! A class kit will be sold on the first day of class for $20. Students will have access to both sew and print studios during open studio hours. Come to class prepared with project ideas and sample fabrics.

I was thinking specifically of my quilting students when I designed this class, but it will be equally as fun/productive for anyone looking to create their own printed material. There will be plenty of hands-on exercises and lots of oggling lovely fabric!

Register for Fabric Design and Print Exchange here!

I hope to see a lot of new and returning students!! Happy almost spring, everyone!