Monday, August 29, 2011

They’re Off!

...and Our Flag Was Still There

 The quilts that I have been working on for the last 2 years are off to Houston.  Thank God. There were times I didn’t think I would every get them done.   Not that I didn’t want them done, just the opposite.  It was finding the time to quilt them which has been my problem.
Monet In Pasadena
You see, I am finally making somewhat of a living doing my art. This is a dream come true.  Most artists have to die before there is any market for their art.  Not me, I thought.  I will teach and lecture and that will offset my fabric habit.  But I forgot one important thing – with teaching and lecturing comes the loss of time to do my art. 
 I have so over booked myself this year with traveling the circuit that I have not had that precious time to just be creative and I can’t live without being creative.  I get very depressed if I go too long without studio time.  And maybe money is overrated, anyway.   Joey may not like this but next year will be different and balance will be my theme.
 The green clamps are holding the weight of the quilt off the table.
But the most exciting news is while I was rushing to get my quilts stitched I invented a pulley system to hold the weight of my big quilts while I am quilting them.   I have had this idea ever since I saw a contraption that Carol Bayer Fallert uses.  I think she said it was for lifting patients out of bed so you could do God knows what to them in the hospital or at home.  I’m not sure where to get one of those devices so I had to improvise.  This was also project weekend for Joe.   Someone in our family, while flushing the toilet, dropped her glasses that were on her head down the potty as the water was swirling. Oops!  So off to Home Depot with Joe I went.  I told him about my pulley ideas and he still wanted to help me but only after he snaked out the potty first.  That was only fair.
On our list was:  2 pulleys, 2 eye hooks, yards of rope cording, the type used for making clotheslines, and 2 hand spring clamps. Oh yeah, we also needed a snaky thingamajig for the toilet.
Once home, Plumber Joe, not to be confused with Electrician Joe, Gardner Joe, Pool Boy Joe, Car Detailer Joe, Accountant Joe, Web Master Joe or Tree Trimmer Joe, went into action. First he asked me if I wanted the glasses back. I said I don’t think so.  He then extended the snaky line and jammed it down the hole.  Then he tried to pull it back out and it wouldn’t budge.  It was stuck.  I offered some helpful advice and was told to get out of the room.  What? A loving wife can’t offer guidance?  I mean, without me we wouldn’t even be enjoying this time together.

Then I heard more of what sounded like a tug of war with the snake and the commode.  And then this cracking sound and those wonderful words   I think I got it, followed by the most magical flushing sound.   Joe then announced that he had just saved us $200 and all the aerobic exercise that goes along with a 2 story home with no working toilet on the ground floor. As he was winding up his trusty snake, he wondered if he could return the snake and get his $50 back as it was hardly used and the blockage it freed was made of glass and plastic, not that other stuff.  I said I didn’t think that was a good idea.

Now to the studio we went.  Joe was feeling quite manly and ready to tackle my project.  
The Pulley
Here are some pictures of the pulley system.  It really is pretty simple and it works. My quilts are very heavy because of all the fabrics and thread.  
Hooks in the beam on the ceiling.
In my Monet in Pasadena quilt I used 6300. yards of thread @ $4 per spool.  That works out to $125.  just in thread, not including all the half used spools still left. 

 That is a lot of money but it’s worth it.  On both of these quilts I used a dark solid backing fabric to show my thread work on the back.  It shows all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly.  It’s like a painting in thread and I love it. I also use at least 33 different colors of Sulky Rayon 30 weight thread.  My new favorite sewing needle is Superior's Titanium Top Stitch needle, size 80/12.
 Look for them at IQA in Houston and ask a Quilting Angel to turn the quilt over so you can see the thread painting on the back.
Gotta run.   Joe is now talking about trimming trees in the front yard.  OMG!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I feel yucky...

It’s a sick day today.  I just got home from 2 weeks of nonstop teaching and lecturing.  I have completely overbooked myself to the point that there is no time to even change my sweaty teaching clothes or do my hair before the evening lecture.  And I was in Houston, Texas and they are having an out of control heat wave, of course.   So I caught a cold and felt miserable the whole time.  But the show must go on.   Thank God I love what I do even when I am so sick.  At one point, when I had lost my voice and found out there was no microphone(!) I did think about running from the room screaming.  But then I would have had to stand outside in the heat and humidity and that was not an option.

One of my 3 hostesses, Linda, took me to the drug store where I bought cold meds, boxes of tissues and a hair clip because my hair was starting to puff out as my nose got redder and the humidity was reaching 89%.  And this was only day #1.
At one point, as I was going back to my room after breakfast,  I couldn’t remember my room number. I was in different hotels every day.  Was it room 220 or 507 or now where am I???  The thought of asking the front desk what my room number was was very humbling.

But I made it, barely. Then, on the last night something special happened that made it all worth the runny nose, the sweaty clothes, the bad hair and losing my voice.  I think I touched someone special. Artists can touch people with their art. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it shakes up your mind and head.  But that is not what I am talking about.  My lecture meant something to an 11 year old boy who was there with his grandmother that night at the guild meeting.
Again, we had mic problems and my throat was so sore. Thank God Ginger drove me through a Sonic to get a giant cherry lime aid before the meeting. It was like mother’s medicine. I found out that I was to go on after the break which is when most people leave. I don’t understand why a quilt guild that is paying big bucks to bring me there has me lecture at the end after the Show & Tell and when everyone is tired. At one guild recently they had 25 Show & Tells before the break and me. That meant that I also was not going to get out of there until 10:30.  But this night the Show & Tells went fast and it was my time. I was worried still about the mic and had an idea right before I was introduced.

My idea fixed the mic problem. Now, could they handle my raspy voice from this darn cold?   God, give me the strength to go on is what I prayed in the ladies bathroom.    It was a warm and receptive group, I could see. There were about 250 at the meeting that night. I talked about how I got from there to here and the struggles I had gone through as a child and adult. This is my art.  I talk about overcoming my dyslexia and the labels people put on you as a kid but that I was always thinking like an artist from the very beginning. It just didn’t fit in a school system.  But it’s what makes me creative and how when you accept how you are this helps our creative process and helps us define our art.  Then I end with my 3 minute movie that I have made showing my artwork and my path. It’s set to music and always gets a great response.  Then the trip is over.  I can now go home and fall in the arms of my loving man.

But,, as I am talking to the ladies at the end of the nigh,t I see this young man of 11 walk up to me. Behind him is his grandmother. She says he has something to say to me.  He tells me that he also has dyslexia. My heart jumps as I run around the table that is separating us.  He was so cute and brave. I gave him a big hug and I saw the smile on his face and then looked in his eyes and I told him You have been given a great gift. You are going to do great things in the world - you will just do them in a different way.  That is what is going to make you successful. You can do anything you want to do - you will just figure out a different way to get there. Don’t let anyone stop you. I hugged him again and he nodded his head like he already knew it. I saw his grandmother turn and walk away.  Later, in the car, Ginger told me she was crying. This is why I do what I do. Not to win awards, although the awards get me the jobs.  I have a life I want to share with others - a life that has been hard and rewarding.  A life I could have easily given up and tossed away if I had believed for one moment what people labeled me. I always knew that God had his hand in this. Artists are right-brained thinkers, which is where all creativity comes from.  Schools are mostly left-  brained and humans are ignorant.

There was a book I bought that is called The Gift of Dyslexia. I never read past the title and preface but the title said it all to me. I still have that book and to anyone who wants to listen to a very creative woman who has been given a gift, a runny nose and a voice that today sounds like Suzanne Pleshette on the Bob Newhart Show,  I’m here and have a story to tell.