Archive for March, 2009

Inspirational artist: Eszter Bornemisza

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Eszter Bornemisza, a Hungarian fiber artist, creates the most gorgeous art quilts featuring  maps and grids and strata that bring to mind ancient ruins and long ago cities.  Her work involves hand dyeing and painting, wax resists, felting, and hot cut textiles, among other techniques.  She is truly inspiring.  Enjoy!

Bonny Scotland (and parts of England)

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

 

I still have not gotten any real work done to post over the last few days and my friend Shelley was not exactly inspired by my last post of vulture pictures.  These pretty pictures are for you, Shelley!

As an introduction to these, I am married to a Scotsman (from Glasgow) and I am incredibly fortunate enough to return to the old country every now and then to visit my in-laws and to explore this incredible country.  Scotland is truly the most beautiful place I have ever been and after a half a dozen trips, I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what it has to offer.  I will happily be returning in May for my 10th anniversary. 

My husband, Ken’s idea of a vacation usually involves some sort of supreme exertion:  biking across Scotland, taking a sailing course, walking the West Highland Way, climbing mountains, etc.  He is not a ClubMed kind of guy; no beaches and drinks with fruit in them for us.  No matter how much I beg.    Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it any other way even though I often have to start Olympic training  for vacations months in advance and am often more tired after we return than I was before we left.    Ken seems to be able to go from his sedentary job to mountain climbing with no transition.  He’s up the mountain at light speed and I am usually trailing behind panting and  taking pictures.

We went out to for the incredibly fun wedding of one of Ken’s cousins in England.  For the record for formal occasions, Scottish men wear kilts, English men wear suits and most British women wear hats.  There was much drinking and dancing.   Fun was had by all.  Some of the relatives:

Love those Brits-kilts and hats!

Love those Brits-kilts and hats!

While in England went to Glastonbury; a lovely, but very touristy village with the famous Glastonbury Tor.  This town is VERY popular with the New Age set.  Glastonbury Tor is said to be a place of power.  Whatever you think of it, it’s quite beautiful:

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

Here’s a view from the top:

View from the top of Glastonbury Tor

View from the top of Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury also has some incredible abbey ruins click on link for tons of pictures of the ruins

Abbey ruins

Abbey ruins

The incredible stone work is worn, but still really beautiful:

Glastonbury Abbey stonework

Glastonbury Abbey stonework

We went back up north to Scotland after the wedding.  Here are some pictures taken from the top of Ben Lomond, in the Scottish Highlands.  This was my first (and so far, only) Munro that I made it to the summit of:

View from the top of Ben Lomond

View from the top of Ben Lomond

From another direction:

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

We also spent 3 days sailing the Scottish coast in a beautiful wooden boat called the Eda Fransen.   This was one of those extravagant life list excursions.  It ain’t cheap.I would post more pictures, but I am tired of editing photos and this has become the longest blog post in the history of the internet.  If there is some radical demand from my hordes (ha!) of readers, I will post more another day.

Click on the Eda Fransen link for more pictures of this incredibley beautiful vessel.  This was one of those non-fluffy things that Ken likes to do.  I did not actually expect to have to work the sails, but that was what we did.  Trusting me with a rope system this complicated was very brave of them.  I’m surprised I didn’t sink us.

The ropes were never that neat again

The ropes were never that neat again

We sailed around the Scottish islands of Rum, Eigg, and stopped off on the isle of Canna

Eda Fransen and Isle of Canna

Eda Fransen and Isle of Canna

That’s one of the bazillion old churches/ruins in Scotland.

 

I had never been on a real boat on anything but a lake before.  I loved the sailing except for barfing all of day2.  On the last day I had my sea legs and really loved it.  The people were lovely and the staff and food was first rate.  I could never do this for more than a couple of days;  the quarters are pretty cramped and I am a bit of a princess.  I didn’t get pictures of the berths (beds), but trust me, they are not even as big as an actual human body.  Ken and I were stacked like cordwood.   The showers are actually the room with the toilet; you just close the door, pull a shower curtain over the toilet (and your clothes) and the turn on the water.

Toilet/shower picture courtesy of travelblog.org

Toilet/shower picture courtesy of travelblog.org

 It was cramped for sleeping, but what an adventure.  seeing Scotland from the coastline was unbelievable.

Hitchcock, fire up the camera

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Some people look for crocuses or the return of the robin.  I know it’s spring when my big, ugly friends come back.

We have a very interesting bird community here in my neighborhood.  What you need to first understand is that I live in a nice, regular, old suburb of Chicago.  We used to be a farming community, but most of the farms have gone the way of housing developments in the past 10 years.  Despite all of this, we have 2 blue heron rookeries and a fair amount of sandhill cranes that migrate through.  We also have a very healthy population of coyote.  I will try to post pictures of those critters in another post.  Today I want to introduce you to a much uglier, fairly disgusting friend.

 These guys come to my neighborhood to raise their young every spring

That is one ugly bird

That is one ugly bird

 Besides all the usual spring migratory birds, we have a breeding group of turkey vultures that nest 1 block behind my house.  They nest in a small wooded lot owned by the park district, but spend the morning perched on my neighbor’s very expensive house.  I have talked with my neighbor and he claims they started with one pair of them about 20 years ago.  Last year I counted 25 birds.  He thinks they are pretty cool, but says that they will all peck at the skylights when someone uses the bathroom.  That’s a fine way to start the day!

I couldn’t get the whole group in a shot, but here are about a dozen of them

That's a whole lot of vulture poop

That's a whole lot of vulture poop

 

My neighbor is more tolerant of nature than I am.  The first time I saw these guys, of course I had to find out more about their behavior.  Here are a few reasons why you do NOT want them roosting on your house:

  • Vultures are ginourmous-these guys are as big as an eagle
  • Vultures are carrion eaters
  • Vultures pee on their legs to disinfect them
  • Vultures projectile vomit when threatened
  • Vultures are butt ugly
  • Vultures poop a lot

It is like something out of a Hitchcock movie.  I am still waiting on my new memory card for my camera.  These are  pictures of them from last year.  They roost in the morning and unfortunately I had to shoot into the sun.  These are the best pics I could get.

Vulture on Deadwood

Vulture on Deadwood

Well, all of this has nothing to do with art.  They don’t exactly inspire aesthetic grandeur either, but are definitely one of the weird things that shape my world.  Anyone else have weird animals in their neighborhood?

Step Away from the Knitting Needles

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Here is one of many very entertaining knitting creations from people who obviously have too much time on their hands that I found on Dark Roasted Blend

Intestinal tract created by Matie Trew
Intestinal tract created by Matie Trew

Matie’s website she knits a whole lot of weirdness.  This is what happens when a biology major takes up knitting.

Disruption, Thy Name is Ashley

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

A. A. Milne:

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.

My daughter came home from college for spring break on Saturday.  She has been telling me that she is paring down her possessions:

Ashley's purging campaign seems to involve moving everything from school to our basement

Ashley's purging campaign seems to involve moving everything from school to our basement

and, in her own goofy way, takes over everything.  All the clean clothes she had left were party dresses: 

I have not done laundry all semester

I have not done laundry all semester

I know that very little will be accomplished the week she is here.  She doesn’t exactly inspire purposeful movement. 

Ashley and Jack worn out from getting out of bed

Ashley and Jack worn out from getting out of bed

 

We catch up and laugh tons.  She is very funny and having her home is a lovely vacation while still at home.

I did manage to get a little screening done:

Metallics screened on commercial cotton

Metallics screened on commercial cotton

and some discharged organza:

screen-1

Kind of uninspiring alone but pretty good when layered:

Silk organza over screened commercial cotton.

Silk organza over screened commercial cotton.

Sorry the pictures are crap today, but my memory card died today and I had to use Ashley’s point and shoot for these photos.  The resolution is pretty low.  The Amazon fairy will bring me a new one on Wednesday. 

Shiva Paintstick Tutorial

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

There is a really good Shiva paintstick tutorial on Rebecca Reasons Edward’s blog:  This is My Brain on Quilts.  She discusses using stencils, stamps and below that making your own rubbing plates with puff paint.  It sounds intriguing.  I will be experimenting soon.  The piece of mine below has some of my own Shiva paintstick experiments on it.

Cave Series IV

Cave Series IV

SAQA @ 20

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Evening Meditation- detail

Evening Meditation- detail

I opened a very happy email this morning!  My piece, Evening Meditation, the piece that I featured on my blog in the last post is one of 35 pieces accepted into a wonderful exhibit called SAQA@20; featuring the work of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) members.  SAQA is an outstanding organization promoting the work of extremely talented fiber artists from around the globe. 

The exhibit was juried  by Patricia Bolton, editor of Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazines, among others.

SAQA@20 will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall and travel to various venues for the next 2 years.

The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind

Saturday, March 14th, 2009
I just realized that these article posts are the perfect place to put a totally unrelated photo of my work!
Shameless Self Promotion photo of my work#1
Evening Meditation

Evening Meditation

I just read a really interesting article Time magazine did on creative people and the way they work  called

The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind

 

The study found a lot of things that most artists already know:  good ideas are a numbers game: you need to process lots of bad ones to get to them, ideas evolve in the process of working on them: you get lots of tiny “aha” moments while executing an idea, and those “bolts out of the blue” actually come after lots of indirect processing or what Christine Kane (and many others)call  moodling.  it’s a good read!

Inspirational artist: Lynn Boggess, painter

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I love, love, love this man’s paintings.  Gorgeous landscapes.   I have seen his work exhibited a few times in Asheville, NC, one of my absolute favorite places, and they knocked me out.  Apparently, they knocked a few others out, too, because most everything in the show was sold.   The website doesn’t give you the full impact that they have in person (they never do, do they?), but they still look pretty amazing: 

http://www.lynnboggess.com/

Enjoy!

Oh Happy Day or Playing with the Beast

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Hi all,

Tuesday afternoon my Thermofax machine arrived!  I have just gotten down to really playing with it.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, a thermofax machine allows you to make screens, which operate like silk screens, of any image you can reduce to black and white.  It creates a permeable screen of the image that you can then run paint, thickened dye, or discharge paste through and get a finely detailed image on your fabric!  It’s like magic :-). 

The machines themselves are pretty archaic.  They are actually the old “ditto” machines from the 1960’s.  They aren’t made anymore and fiber artists are competing with tattoo artists for them.  Consequently, they cost a bazillion dollars.  That is why I waited so long to get one.  On top of the high price for purchase, the are HUGE; I almost had a coronary when I saw the shipping costs.   This thing weighs as much as a first grader, so I have dubbed it “The Beast”:

Dollar store tape for scale to show ginormity of "The Beast"

Dollar store tape for scale to show ginormity of "The Beast"

 I’ve included some pictures of screened fabric so you can get an idea of the fine detail you can get with these screens:

Branch screen used on hand dyed cotton

Branch screen used on hand dyed cotton

 

I used numerous colors of thickened dye on this and the following piece of hand dyed silk organza:

Same screen used on silk organza

Same screen used on silk organza

 I am happily making tons of tree screens-because that is what I’m working on right now- and plan to use them to do a ton of discharging once the @$#%^&*% weather gets out of the 20’s.  I had done some discharging in the basement, but it’s pretty evil stuff and even with a gas mask on, it hangs in the air and gives me a headache later.  God knows what it’s doing to my dogs who are sans gas mask. 

Do I look like I have spare brain cells??????????

Do I look like I have spare brain cells??????????

Discharging is definitely outdoor work.  Tons of pictures to come, I’m sure