Studio talk

Sunday in the studio

So here are the two tasks before me today and through the end of 2019.

I am going to complete “Blackbird” and “Caterpillar.”

I am going to clean up the other side of the front room, which is currently piled up with junk. This is what I have been referring to as purgatory, where stuff goes to wait until it is burned or recycled. This is a big project but I am reaaaaaally done with walking in the front door every day to face this. By the end of the year, these piles and boxes shall be gone.

Plus I have a warm studio, and can even cook on top of this, but the trick is to keep it so that the heat doesn’t run me out of the studio. So no stovetop cooking today.

art, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches

Leslie Marsh’s Nature Bound workshop

I do not have many photos from this workshop, a sign of excellence for me. It means that I was so much in the present moment that I forgot to take photos. It is generally hard to get into one of Leslie’s workshops because they fill quickly, but someone canceled and I took their place. Leslie Marsh has a beautiful home and studio on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands at Topsail Beach.

A trademark of Leslie’s book workshops is natural dyeing. She studied with India Flint and developed her own techniques of eco-printing. I particularly like Leslie’s method because she skips the mordanting step and puts everything in the dye pot. When we wrap our papers and fabrics with leaves around copper pipes, all we need to do is wet them and bind them tightly to the pipes. Then she pops them into her potion and they come out transformed. I have found that I do not like the mess of natural dyeing and so this is like heaven for me – the magic without the prep and clean-up. I am not fussy and precise. I enjoy the surprise.

This particular workshop was special because it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. We learned Leslie’s method for her metal book covers, which involves liquidified solder! Leslie is a wonderful, patient teacher and gave each of us individual help as we used these tools and methods for the first time.

We spent a cold Saturday preparing the dyed and leaf printed papers and wool felt, and metal covers for our books. Then we spent Sunday binding the books with coptic stitch, which I do so seldom anymore that I always need a refresher. The second photo of the finished book was taken by Leslie.

I took a little while during the lunch break on Sunday to visit the beach and collect some shells. I love the old worn out ones with holes in them. Sandy mostly stayed in our room at the Jolly Roger because he was sick on Saturday, but he revived on Sunday and drove around exploring while I finished my book. Our room was oceanfront, and I was really impressed with these surf fishers who were out there even late at night. Because he was sick we didn’t eat out Saturday night but we had appetizers and dessert at the Beach Shop Grill on Friday night. Their crab balls are exquisite. Expensive restaurant though. We couldn’t afford to eat there often if we lived nearby.

Anyway, I would take every workshop from Leslie Marsh that she offered if I could.

fiber art, political activism, Rebel stitching, Tiny Pricks Project

Thanksgiving Week and Tiny Pricks


Here we are on Thanksgiving week, ready to celebrate the only holiday I participate in other than Festivus. And the big news is that Sandy and I will be spending it at Lake Waccamaw at my cousin’s house, my heart space, the house that I mourned for the past year because nobody who saw the flood damage from Hurricane Florence thought that my cousin’s wife would spend the money and make the huge effort to save it. But she did! It won’t be the same – all new furniture and appliances since the antiques were ruined. I’ll know more when I get there.

And my sister and brother-in-law finally moved out of the rental house and back to their house on the shore down the road.

For the past month, I mainly concentrated on the Tiny Pricks Project, but I have done some other fun art things. My most recent Tiny Pricks project is a large tea towel so it is taking a while. I should get it done tonight, hopefully! Scuppernong Books has already started pinning up our handkerchiefs, doilies, and crafty items spotlighting the unmatched wise words of our very, very brilliant Dear Leader, and we will add a few more before we send them all to Diana Weymar and the big Tiny Pricks Project. This has been very good for me: good for my stress level, my sense of humor, and connection with other people. I made new friends, which is not easy for me. You can see the Greensboro chapter’s projects on Instagram. I have finished three and three of the four are related to hurricane quotes.

I couldn’t resist doing one of his nonsense “word salads” and this is a bit hard to read, so I’ve typed it below the photo.

I’m going to maybe and I’m looking at it very seriously. We’re doing some other things that you probably noticed like some of the very important things that we’re doing now. But we’re looking at it very seriously because you can’t do that.

Wow, that’s a very serious amount of nothing said at all!

Speaking of nothing, don’t forget to do any shopping early this week so you can celebrate “Buy Nothing Day” on Friday. So there IS a third holiday that I participate in.

I think that I’ll put the other stuff in another post.

depression/anxiety, Obsession, whatever

Self therapy session redux

These are some random thoughts around the theme of connection, which has been on my mind very much lately. Expect some curmudgeon-ish talk.

Last night I went to our Tiny Pricks Project gathering, and I was thirty years older than the other three women there. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was even a baby photo and conversation about teething. And that put my thoughts to work: my angst right now is as much about aging as anything else.

For most of my life I have been the youngest in the crowd. I was a late-in-life surprise baby and my siblings are 8-9 years older than me. I dated boys and men who were older. I married a man who is nine years older than me. I have always preferred the company of older people. So here I am and my friends are increasingly younger. I feel the generation gap. The graduate students often see me as a mother or grandmother figure. Of course their experiences and concerns are different from mine, and if I let myself, I can enjoy listening to them and learn from that, and I will have to get over being shocked if they aren’t familiar with 70s bands and didn’t live in a pre-Internet world and have a definition of sexism that is far more sensitive than the blatant sexism and harassment I experienced. I am not the youngest in the crowd any more. OK Boomer!

I will probably never understand the obsession of some people with being connected to other people constantly on their phones. What’s with the earbuds that are permanent installations on some heads? When I worked for a call center I couldn’t wait to get off the phone so I can’t imagine being wired in during my personal life. Often I don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, they can leave a message or text or email. I don’t get helicopter parenting. It’s funny how those parents don’t see themselves that way. It is such a different world than the one in which I grew up.

My first forty years were cell phone free and somehow we managed not being constantly connected to everybody else. I resisted getting a smart phone until a few years ago and my main reason in finally getting one was for GPS and being able to upload photos. My other influence is my mother, who was more than willing to let her kids go and I doubt very much that we were on her mind every minute of the day. In fact, I am pretty sure that she probably went for hours not thinking about us. In return, she created three very independent adults.

Any kind of loss is very difficult for me, but I can be separated for a long time without anxiety. Friends have broken my heart much more often than lovers. About thirty years ago I decided not to chase after friends who had disengaged and let them come to me if they wished. Most of the time they didn’t, and I was better off. I recently reconnected with one of those friends.

I can also admit that I have been that friend who disengaged. And those who let me go were better off as well.

So I simply feel lost in this century with its constant distractions from what is directly in front of us. I am a victim of these distractions as much as anyone. I have to find a way back to the here and now of my life, and I need to find a way to connect with others without making myself crazy.

The joys of social media are real, and have added a positive dimension to my life that could not have come from anywhere else. Those few folks that don’t do it ask me, where do you find out about these workshops and retreats? Facebook. How did you find out about this artist? Instagram.

Where do I draw the line? Giving up Facebook and Instagram is not an option, not only because of the positive aspects, but because Facebook is part of my job.

I need to get outside more often and leave the phone and camera behind. I love photography but experiencing life through the lens of a camera or the potential shot is not fully connecting. I am very, very tired of technology right now.