critters, North Carolina beaches

October beach weekend

>I gotta tell you from experience, October is THE best beach month in the Carolinas as long as you don’t get unlucky with a freaky early cold snap or a tropical storm of some kind. Of course, I am a cold and stormy weather fan so I don’t necessarily mind those. The high temps at the Carolina beaches usually range in the 70s to lower 80s and the water is still warm enough to swim if you really want to. I just like going in up to my knees.

The main activity I like at any beach is hunting for treasure. My treasure is not what other people generally look for on the shore. Sure, I’d love to find a gorgeous shell or a shark’s tooth or piece of sea glass. But my favorites are usually passed over by the other beachcombers because I love the worn, starfish and worm eaten clam shells. My imagination takes my miniature self exploring through their tiny cavern systems. If I’m really lucky, I’ll find that some coral has built upon the shell, creating yet another layer. Texture and layers, those are what I crave these days.

I was at Topsail and Wrightsville Beaches as the guest of my awesome friends Jojo and Lauren. Jojo and I go back to babyhood together, and Lauren is a new friend. Jojo is a talented singer/songwriter, and Lauren is an amazing chef. It was a lovely weekend, other than a few physical problems that stopped us in our tracks on Saturday night. Jojo wasn’t feeling well, I got sunblock in my eyes, and Lauren had a pretty bad surprise allergic reaction to the seafood we feasted on that night. But by Sunday morning we were well and rested and went out to the beach again.

On Saturday there was an arts festival at Topsail Beach, which included a tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital. These are turtles who have been injured by boats or have a physical defect, and their shells are repaired and whatever other medical services performed that can help them return to the ocean. Some of them are extremely rare and endangered, such as the Kemp’s Ridley turtles (the first photo). I’m glad that I took photos because I was really half blind when I was there.

Lauren prepared a lovely picnic for us on Wrightsville Beach on Sunday. She also rescued a dragonfly and carried it for thirty minutes so that it had a chance to clean itself and fly away. I love kind hearted people.

California, National Parks and Monuments, Pacific beaches, Point Reyes National Seashore, Wildflowers

Cat and Laurie’s Fabulous Point Reyes Adventure

My art retreat was over on Sunday, September 23. After saying my goodbyes to Albie and Ricë, I slipped away while the others were in their Sunday workshops, with a bit of envy. But not too much, because I was about to spend the rest of my day with my fabulous friend Cat, who moved out west from North Carolina several years ago. I walked a couple of trails in the marshland park next to the Sheraton Sonoma and Petaluma River. There were pleasure boats passing by and fellas fishing on the banks. It was a quiet place and I sat and wrote in my journal while I waited for Cat to pick me up.

Aahhhh, it was good to spend a few hours with Cat. She always refreshes my soul, a source of glowing energy. We talked and listened, got a little lost, rode around in circles, and enjoyed every minute of it. We stopped at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and bought some soft cheese for a picnic that never really materialized so I eventually had to toss it out, but I tasted some great cheeses for free and they had other good local organic products too. We wandered through the little town of Point Reyes Station and finally made our way out to Point Reyes Lighthouse, passing a herd of tule elk on the way.

Not quite ALL the way to the lighthouse. It was very foggy and you could barely get a fleeting occasional fuzzy glimpse of the waves beneath the cliffs. Since the steps down to the lighthouse itself was the equivalent of a thirty story climb, we decided to skip it. You know how I love wind and water shaped rock? That was a good place for it, high above the Pacific Ocean.

Isn’t she just gorgeous? I miss her.

Then we went to Point Reyes South Beach, which curiously, was north of the lighthouse, but, hey, everything’s relative, right?

That’s not rope, it’s a kind of seaweed they have on the Pacific coast.

We found a cool little stream with lots of piled up driftwood logs. There were multi-colored succulents and wildflowers everywhere too.

Then we drove back to Petaluma where we met up with Amy, another N. C. girl, and ate dinner at Central Market. I couldn’t leave without drinking some local wine and I already knew how good the oysters are in that area. I had the rainbow trout after the oysters.

Then there was a bit of slapstick when we rushed to the car to get me to the bus station in time for the 8:30 bus and I couldn’t find my purse. It turned up at the restaurant bar where we had first been seated. So I took the 9:30 bus to the San Francisco Airport, and ended up being there in plenty of time for my 11:50 flight.

There must have been a family named Young waiting for stand-by on my flight. Either this was unfortunate or somebody at the computer had a wicked sense of humor. Or maybe I just have a twisted mind. Either way, F. You seemed to be out of luck.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You

Art-is-You Petaluma – Petaluma – Mary Beth Shaw’s class

On Saturday, Sept. 22, I signed up for something a little different for me. Mary Beth Shaw paints textured abstracts that just blow me away, so I decided that it was time for me to play with some acrylic paint again. The name of this class was “More is Less.” We began with a gessoed substrate (bookboard for me, wood and clayboard for most others) and applied different textures with glue and stencils and a product she sells called “wood icing.”.Then we kept layering on a natural palette and more texture and voila! Some really great work came out of her classes.

Ricë told me that I could expect Mary Beth to be entertaining and funny. Those expectations were met! I highly recommend her classes.

This time I took quite a few photos.


A photo of me (imagine that!) and the beginnings of the panels. I picked some wild fennel seeds and stems in Benicia which is what I used for the texture in the bottom on the bottom right panel.

^How mine came out at the end. I was very pleased and not a little surprised.

^Classmates’ work.

^Other students playing!

Midway through this class I was overwhelmed with the possibilities of this playful, easy technique. I get like that. After being “on” for two days, I suddenly had to retreat and process it all. Otherwise, I would have and could have kept doing this for the rest of the evening, a choice which Mary Beth graciously extended to us.

art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Petaluma – Albie’s class

The Sheraton Sonoma is also a marina on the Petaluma River. This was the view from my room on Friday morning, Sept. 21.

Albie Smith was really the teacher I came to see in Petaluma. It wasn’t that I felt that she had bookbinding techniques to teach me that I could only get from her. I took a book class with her at Art & Soul once and a three day class with her at An Artful Journey, where I focused on color and decorative papers. I came to Petaluma to be in the sphere of her energy because I love her personality, her style, and her beautiful, rich palette of colors. I just wanted a relaxing workshop where I could pick up a few basic tips (I always do, no matter what level I think that I’m at) and stitch books together with her luscious papers. And that’s what I did.

The best thing that came out of this class was that Albie connected with me and brought me into her circle. I wish that I lived in Oregon so that it wouldn’t be so expensive to study with her because I’d love to make paper with her. I don’t know why, but I feel a deep affinity with Albie.

The following photos are from the class. The papers were painted by Albie. None of these are my work, and I apologize that I did not get names. I didn’t take many photos because I was focused on what I was doing.


Albie’s samples and a classmate binds two signatures with a dash stitch.

Albie shows off a student’s chain binding. The covers of this book looked like an abstract beach or sunrise. The entire book was quite beautiful and I wish I had gotten a photo that showed them.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Benicia

September 19-20, 2012. My trip to San Francisco was nearly perfect. It was so easy to take the Airporter Express, a very nice bus with free wi-fi and a bathroom, to Petaluma. I finally got to travel across the Golden Gate bridge, and I had perfect views of the Marin and Sonoma County landscapes, which surprised me the whole trip. It was less mountainous, less tree-covered, and much, much less developed than I expected. There were marshlands and wide, hilly pastures. Not many people there for the Art-is-You retreat seemed to be around that night, so I ate a delicious kabocha squash ravioli and knocked back a couple of Red Tail Ales at the hotel bar. This area of the country is dedicated to local food and has some of the most active Slow Food convivia in the country. (I know that SFUSA calls them “chapters” now. But I love the word convivium and choose to use it.)

On Thursday, I went on a “Magic Carpet Ride” in Benicia, a nearby arty little town that was once a capital of California. Some of the retreat attendees took two-day workshops there in a former arsenal that has been repurposed for small studios and businesses. Our tour guide, Lorri-Marie Jenkins, was a resident artist and was the perfect hostess. Our small group walked the town to visit small shops and the library, stopped for scones and coffee at the Rellik Tavern, then joined the other students at the arsenal for lunch. We then toured the Arsenal, where we visited individual artist studios and a vintage wallpaper company that screenprinted its product by hand.

I came away from this day determined to take one of these pre-retreat workshops next time because of the amazing work the students brought back.

One nice plus of this day was that I was able to spend a little time talking to Ricë Freeman-Zachary and the Ever-Gorgeous Earl. They have somewhat of a rock-star status in the mixed media world, and the last time when I met Ricë face-to-face they were both covered in artists and students wanting their company. Ricë was especially sweet when I kept running into her for the remainder of the retreat. And it was nice to have another obsessive photographer in the group. The EGE and I would say at the same time, “Did you see this? Oh, look at that,” and go wandering off, camera always in hand, often taking the same shots. I felt like I already knew Ricë from reading her blog, even though I have hardly read any other blogs in the last couple of years.

That is a very weird feeling — meeting a stranger who “knows” you from reading your blog. I suppose she must be used to it but back when I had a lot of readers it always came as a shock to me when someone in the farmers’ market would say, “Oh, YOU’re THAT Laurie!” and proceed to ask me about whatever cat problem or gardening issue I had written about in the last month. Not that I didn’t get a kick out of it. But in a way, I’m sort of glad that I write for myself and don’t feel the obligations that a widely-read blogger begins to feel. My readers began to fall away when I stopped writing about gardening and food, and that’s okay. I had written enough on the subject and there were several local bloggers who came along and did it better around here.

But I digress. Here are some photos from Benicia. Picking the photos for this post is tough, so I’ll refer to you to the Flickr set for more if you’re interested.


Wonderful show at the local library and public art by Guillermo Wagner Granizo on the sidewalk of downtown Benicia

The waterfront and the fabulous styles of Lorri-Marie and Ricë.


Sharon Payne Bolton‘s studio and work from her book class

Hip Chick Designs

Screen printing wallpaper at Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers

The Ever-Gorgeous Earl admires the wallpaper samples in the office.


Joseph Mele’s studio and Mary Oros’ studio.

Outside view from a studio in the Arsenal.


“This is not a white sofa.” In Beatrice Guttman‘s studio. I didn’t get a clear photo of her work.


This is Slow Food country – Benicia Farmers’ Market in the late afternoon. I love being able to buy almonds directly from the farm!

art, fiber art, Ireland, tapestry, weaving

“Dingle Cliff Walk”

“Dingle Cliff Walk,” tapestry. Cotton, linen, and silk; 6 x 8.75 inches. Tweaked the finishing touches today.

It was designed from a photo taken on the cliff trail in front of Gorman’s Clifftop House on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. The mountains in the background are called the Three Sisters.

It is a bit wop-sided. I’m usually better than that but I wove it last on the same circular warp with some other pieces which made the tension hard to master. I’ve loosened up enough that it doesn’t bother me (much).

art, dyeing, fiber art

Sun printing on fabric

For the first time since I came back from the Art-is-you Petaluma retreat, I finally got some creative work done. It was easy to the point of being fairly mindless, so that helped. I’d do it again all day today if it was warm and sunny, but alas, cool and rainy weather has set in for a few days. I don’t really mind because I have lots of projects for indoors too.

This was pure play. I’ll probably cut these fabrics into pieces for patchwork or stitching. The smaller piece is linen and the others are cotton. I used Setacolor paints and the blue was Golden fluid acrylic, but any transparent acrylic would be fine. Acrylics have to be heat set, so when the sun went behind the clouds I popped them in the dryer on high for 30 minutes. I’ll iron them and wash them (in that order) before I use them.

I didn’t iron the cloth before I painted it because I like the effects that the wrinkles in the cloth make. I took the cloth directly from the wash to a freezer paper covered table in the porch. You can cover your surface with plastic, too. The main point is that the cloth needs to be wet before you begin painting. The objects will not print over dry areas – I tried that to see what happened.

Lynda at Bloom, Bake & Create has a lot of nice posts with photos of her experiments with sun printing. She also uses Dye-na-flow paints, which is what I’ll use next time along with the Setacolor paints. She also wrote an article for Quilting Arts magazine about ice dyeing that got my attention this year.


Then I painted with some brown and green to tone down that pink and kept going…

Then I switched to my favorite palette of blue and green on unpainted sections…I should have re-wet these but they still came out nice.

Now that I understand the process better I’m really going to have a ball with this.

art, coffee pot posts

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Since Sandino Galore is out doing macho manly things with his macho manly friends, I have the pleasure of the house to myself, with only the sound of the washing machine and an occasional meow. I took it easy this morning and returned to bed after feeding the critters, rising slowly and cleaning off my work/play table in my bedroom for use later today and tomorrow. There are so many things I’d like to do that I can’t decide, which is the place where I’ve been stuck for a while. But hey, there is a clear horizontal space in the house now! Maybe by listing them I’ll decide. Here goes.

Definitely need to take my Dingle Cliffwalk tapestry out to Steve to get it framed. With the drive, this will take 2-3 hours, depending on whether we visit a while. I need to photograph it first so that will be at the top of the list.

I have to study this weekend. I have to catch up on my reading, and then do some SERIOUS studying. This textbook is extremely difficult and it requires me taking notes on the side to retain any of it. It has made me realize that I will NEVER EVER be an art historian. I like my information fairly cut and dried, not gooey or evaporating.

Today may be the last chance for some nice warm sunny weather for a while. I am washing some remnants that I bought at JoAnn’s this week. I could take this table out to a sunny spot and make sunprints.

I need to get the shop vac out to the gazebo and vacuum out the Critter (not one of my cats, but a small paper pulp beater on loan from my friend Susanne), put a tarp over it, and hope for good weather again next weekend so I can make some paper with it for the FIRST TIME after having it at my house for months. Really, there is no excuse for this except that I’m a bit scared of it. The weather was brutal this summer but by the time there were some nice days I went out of town or I just plain forgot about it.

I have a light pink warp halfway measured on the warping board. I should finish it and take it off because it is not good for my board to leave a warp under tension on it for so long. Then this winter I can weave some pink stuff to donate for auctions and whatnot for charity, since everyone is pink crazy, whether for breast cancer or other reasons. I don’t get the obsession with pink, but I have lots of this pink cotton that I bought for accents, so it will be next up for the loom.

Books. I have several books that could be finished and taken to the gallery if I would just get my $%^& together and do it.

Woven cuffs. Hemmed, check. Fasteners of different kinds bought, check. Now I need to finish them!

Hmmm, this list could go on for a very long time. It’s beginning to stress me out a little.