Sewing in the new studio

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As you know, I’m enjoying my new studio. I spent a good part of every day of my Christmas break from work there. It was hard to let go of that routine. From now on it will have to be on weeknights and weekends, although I will have to carve out time to do the stuff that needs to be done at home too, I suppose.

It helps to have a great studio-mate!

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Looks like we have a big snowstorm bearing down on us tonight so I’m going to try to scoot by there and pick up a few items to work on at home. There are some pieces that I want to hand stitch on.

We’ll have plenty of firewood, although most of this needs to cure to use next winter. No problem, we have lots of old wood in the back since the last two winters were so mild.

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The travel t-shirt quilt layout is basically this:

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Now I’m stitching together strips of cloth and triangles to have a pile of this “filler” material to choose from to put in between the t-shirt pieces. I hung a sheet from a piece of wooden moulding for my design wall and I fiddle around with pinning pieces up and moving them around.

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I’ve spent more than half of the last month sick with two different bad colds. I don’t recommend it as a diet plan, but I did lose five pounds. You have to take the positive where you can get it these days.

2017 First Day Part II

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So, here is what I’m thinking about for 2017.

There will be a local exhibition of six fiber artists at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC in January and another Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at Yadkin Cultural Arts Center later this year.

I’m planning to go to the Women’s March on Washington on January 21 with a couple of friends. Quite a few women I know are taking buses to DC. We jumped on reserving a hotel room near the Metro station in Alexandria right away for Saturday night before the rooms sold out and the prices jacked up, and will stay in a cheap hotel about an hour away on Friday night. Now I am shaking in my shoes with anxiety about the whole thing. I don’t even like to go to the movies or concerts because I hate crowds. What the hell was I thinking? But I’m going to go because I think it is important. One of my friends will drive and I’ll take my Dramamine and Xanax for the journey.

Winter/Spring is my busy time at work, so I’m not planning anything then except maybe a trip to Lake Waccamaw around Easter.

May 16 is our 30th anniversary. We are going to celebrate the hard work that went into this by traveling to Ireland and southern England for two weeks. We’ve paid for most of the trip already over the last few months. We’ll stay in Howth (on the harbor near Dublin) for one night on the way and one night on the way back, and most of our time will be spent in London and Cornwall.

Yes, I am a fan of Poldark! But mostly, it is because I love sea cliffs and a large branch of my ancestry is from Cornwall.

In late June, Susanne and I plan to go back to Focus on Book Arts for our third time. Because of the trip to the UK, that is currently the only retreat I’m planning. Unlike the last time, I won’t be making it a bigger trip because I need to do it as cheaply as possible. FOBA arranges for room/board at Pacific University and it is less expensive than other retreats. Also, it has a nice selection of both technical classes and loosey goosey creative classes with nationally known book arts instructors.

In June and July I guess I will be blogging those trips!

Sandy and I will try to make it out to Colorado again before the year is out. We both love it there. We’ll try to visit a new national park if we can. We’ve been to Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes so far in Colorado.

I’ll try to get back to weaving “Cathedral” again. Now that I have the front porch screened in I know that I will enjoy weaving on the porch bug-free.

I expect that my current obsession with weaving cloth strips and fabric piecework (and maybe quilting) will continue. So there will be plenty of retreat time right here in Greensboro.

2017 First Day Part I

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“Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams.” – Robinson Jeffers, “The Answer”

Wow. This is going to be hard. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you skipped this one. I always write a post on New Year’s Day about my goals and expectations for the coming year. I am not a cheery person these days and I don’t want to bring anybody down. But philosophically I have belonged in the camp of the Dark Mountain Project for quite some time. This kind of gloomy realistic thinking does not resonate with most people and most certainly will not get you invited to parties, but I’m not a people person anyway. If I had children, I really don’t know if I would still be sane as this point. Also, I’m not really interested in discussing it, but here’s what is in the back of my mind, and I feel that it is important to put it out there today.

THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILISATION

“We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.”

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

From the Dark Mountain Project Manifesto

So, there is the broader view of my thinking for the years ahead. Next, a cheerier post about our plans for the year.

2016 Wrap-Up…working on the bucket list

A lot of people are happy to see 2016 go. Yes, it was a very stressful year for almost everyone, but I am quite fearful of the next few years so I’m not ready to let 2016 go yet. However, I don’t have much choice, do I? So here’s my annual wrap-up blog post.

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“Save our State,” a postcard tapestry I sent to an exhibition in Oaxaca, Mexico this year

I marked a couple of things off my bucket list this year. One event that might have made my bucket list but didn’t was voting for my man Bernie in the presidential election. It wasn’t on my list because I never ever expected him to get so close to the goal. Bernie Sanders has been my political hero for years, and it filled my heart with gladness to vote for him in the primary. At least our guys won in the N.C. governor and attorney general elections, which can only help, although the legislature has a controlling majority and is hellbent on taking away the powers of the governor’s office now that their party lost it. UGH.

My heart ached all year about the sale of my mother’s house in Marietta in late 2015. Although I’m glad that we don’t have to deal with its upkeep, it will always be home to me. I didn’t expect its loss to hurt so much.

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In January, a big bucket list item was fulfilled when my tapestry, “98% Water,” was accepted into the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial exhibition. Right now I think it is still in Kansas at the Mulvane Art Museum. and will be traveling to its final venue at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I also rented a small room at my church around the corner as a studio space, which I enjoyed for most of the year. My grand-nephew lost his father who was only in his mid-thirties, which had a huge impact on our family. This post wrapped up that month pretty well.

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Pocosin Arts Center in Columbia, North Carolina was the location of a workshop Susanne and I took from Daniel Essig. It’s a sweet little town that most people breeze through on their way to the Outer Banks without a second look, but it is also the home to the headquarters of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which I took as the theme of my wood covered mica book.

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In March, my cousin Fred Adams died. He had Type 1 diabetes and a stroke and was in kidney failure for a long time. His house at Lake Waccamaw is the place that I have written about and photographed so much here over the years. He was a dearly loved family member and we all miss him very much. Everyone who knew Fred loved him. He was one of those kind of people – funny, intelligent, and friendly.

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During the spring, I dived into weaving and sewing cloth strips, mostly from my worn-out jeans that I collected over the years. I learned a lot about what my little sewing machine is and is not capable of! I owe this cloth party to Jude Hill at Spirit Cloth.

Then in April I used the diced up denim trimmings to make paper!

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Which was really fun until my back and hips said uh-uh.

Tapestry Weavers South had an impressive 20th Anniversary exhibition at Yadkin Arts Center in May. I’m so glad that I became more involved with this group.

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May 2016 also brought the second bucket list item to fruition – we took a train ride on a sleeper car. It was during a big beautiful trip to Montana and Washington and Oregon, and there are too many gorgeous photos to choose from so you’ll have to travel back in time to my link above if you want to see them. We flew to Minneapolis, boarded Amtrak in Saint Paul, got off at Glacier National Park for three days, took the train again to Seattle where we only spent a couple of hours near the depot, then took the train to Portland. There we rented a car and drove to Mount St. Helens National Monument, the Astoria and Cannon Beach area, up the Columbia Gorge, to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Painted Hills) in central Oregon, to Bend and Sisters, and back to Portland for the last two days, where we flew back east.

It was absolutely one of the greatest trips I’ve ever taken, but I will not be riding in a sleeper car again! It also reinforced the idea that Sandy and I really should go west if we are ever able to retire.

June and July brought me back to the studio and growing field peas and butterbeans in my garden, which is much reduced in size now due to my chronic physical problems. I spent July 4th weekend at the lake at my sister’s house for the first time. She has kittens!

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In August I finished up the denim blanket, which I learned was too large, bulky, and heavy to use as I intended, so I cut it in half and now it is two rugs on my bedroom floor. When I need picnic blankets, I’ll roll them up and take them along. I started on a new blanket project with a bunch of my husband’s old cotton and linen shirts.

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Giacometti and the view from inside the Art Institute of Chicago

On Labor Day weekend I traveled to South Bend, Indiana via Chicago to attend the opening reception of the ATA Biennial at the South Bend Museum of Art. I flew through Chicago, took Amtrak to South Bend with the points I earned from the May trip, stayed in an AirBNB (which has made me a convert!). On the way back I spent a few hours at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Only a couple of weeks later I took what seems to be turning into an annual trip to see my Aunt Delaine and cousin Cherie near Denver, Colorado. Hey, you can’t tell we’re related, can you? This time I was there to go to a class with paper collage artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire at the Art Makers Denver retreat. As usual the entire time with my family was lovely.

After the disastrous owners’ meeting in July I had written off Deep Roots. When I came back in September I got involved with a group of Deep Roots owners with the purpose of changing the direction of the cooperative, whose management and majority of the board got way off track in trying to deal with the financial problems. I spoke before the board about communication – my speech is in the minutes here. The good news is that we did prevail. The general manager was gone by November and most of the board members who supported him serve their last day on the board today.

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Screened in front porch!

I didn’t write on my blog at all in October or November. My nerves were shot and I was angry or shellshocked all the time. But once I was able to, I did a catch-up post here. The good news: I met and drank with Ben Harper. We screened in our front porch. We went to Savannah, Georgia for a long weekend for Sandy’s birthday.

Bonaventure Cemetery

My favorite place in Savannah was Bonaventure Cemetery. I’ve got it in my head now to do a angel tapestry after the “Cathedral” tapestry is finished.

Lake Waccamaw reflections

We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, brother, and cousin-in-law (Fred’s wife) at Lake Waccamaw. I didn’t blog it.

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Then I took Susanne’s offer to move the church studio into her house. We are having a great time! I’m working on a travel themed t-shirt quilt. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

Goodbye, 2016.