30 March 2009

Simple Arts Podcast

When I was teaching in Asilomar at the Empty Spools seminar a couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Annie Smith, podcaster extraordinaire. She interviewed me one evening and we really hit it off. You can head to her website to listen to the podcast and hear us chatting about art and quilting and life and everything. Please leave a comment for me here - I'll be giving away a copy of my new book, Art Quilts at Play, on Wednesday, April 1st (no fooling!)

So you can follow along, in the podcast I talk about the books I've written with Elin Waterston, the shop that my mom and I opened in 1990 (that will continue as an internet store) and my husband's artwork.

UPDATE: The winner of the free book is "sewjoe"! Please contact me with your mailing address and I'll get an autographed copy of Art Quilts at Play right out to you. Thank you everyone for your very kind comments! And thank you Annie for the opportunity to talk to your listeners!

20 March 2009

Workshop at Sew Inspired

Elin Waterston and I will each be teaching a workshop at Sew Inspired Quilt Shop in Simsbury CT on Saturday April 4th. We'll also be signing copies of our new book, Art Quilts at Play from 1-2 pm.

Elin is teaching Artist Trading Cards with Angelina fibers, painted fusibles and Shiva Paintstiks from 10am - 1pm and I'll be teaching Fiber Art Postcards with Tsukineko inks, metallic foil and gel medium transfers from 2-5 pm.

Hope to see you there!

13 March 2009

Auspicious beginnings and endings

Happy Friday the 13th to me! The picture above is of me as a mere babe (of course, I'd like to think I'm still a babe, lol) and my mom outside of the house of one set of grandparents in Queens NY. Today we're both a number of years older, but no less cute than we were then. I think it's auspicious that, on the cusp of re-inventing myself for the next phase of my life, my birthday once again falls on a Friday.

Mom and I have worked together for the last 18 1/2 years at the shop we opened in 1990, The Country Quilter. What a ride it has been! We've seen trends and fads come and go, we started our own pattern design business, we've taught hundreds and hundreds of quilters and we've a blast doing it all. We've never had an argument or serious disagreement - which, if you had seen us doing my teenage years, you wouldn't believe. My mom is an inspiration and it's a joy to work with her. She and my dad are now retiring and planning to spend a lot of time at their house on the lake in the Adirondacks, traveling, and enjoying each other and the family. Richly deserved and highly anticipated!

So, this left me at a crossroads and I decided to take the path less traveled, the journey less certain. The shop closes in two weeks and I start a new chapter in my life. I will be expanding our online business of art quilting supplies, continuing our pattern business and exploring new avenues in teaching, writing and designing. Very exciting and a little bit scary all at once.

I am looking forward to being at home on Saturdays, not having had weekends off in nearly two decades. I'm also looking forward to having more time for art, family and friends, and to being open to whatever comes next. Stay tuned!

08 March 2009

An afternoon at the aquarium

As a special treat, Tracey Brookshier took me to the Monterey Bay Aquarium after we finished teaching on Friday. What a feast for the eyes! The aquarium is famous for its jellyfish exhibits and rightly so. I need to go back with my good camera, the jellies are hard to photograph with a point-and-shoot.

I found myself completely captivated with a tank of sea anemone. The colors were amazing. I feel a new series coming on...

Some of the pictures I took were disappointingly blurry - the leafy sea dragons (unbelievably cool and surreal-looking), the river and sea otters, and the sand dollars (we stared at these a long time while they moved in s l o w motion) so I'll need to try again next time. We bumped into some of my students who were practicing their observational skills at the aquarium before their flight home.

After we had our fill of the fishies, we headed to Cha-ya, a Japanese tea, art and antique store in an old part of Monterey, where I found origami paper, small dragonfly dishes, a couple of pretty chirimen bags and a tiny metal jizō statue (that caused my luggage to be searched at security the next day, I guess it looked more menacing in the x-ray machine than it does in real life!) Then on to an art supply store for a paper fix, gorgeous handmade paper with Thai writing on it, a vintage-looking map and more handmade paper with newspaper inclusions. And finally back to Tracey's house for a home-cooked meal with her family. All in all, a fantastic ending to a fantastic week.

A week in paradise

Last week I taught at the Empty Spools Seminar in Asilomar, California. Despite the chilly, rainy weather, it's a magical place. The ocean is a very short walk from the conference center, is visible from many vantage points and the sound of the surf is omnipresent. It was a very inspiring setting for a very creative week.

The dining hall where everyone on campus gathered for meals. The speed with which they feed hundreds and hundreds of people is astounding.

Just beyond the dining hall is the boardwalk to the dunes and trails. Beautiful even in the grey drizzle.

There are warning signs along the trail to watch out for mountain lions and advice about what to do if confronted with one. I memorized the sign but didn't need to use the advice, phew. There were a lot of crows and racoons, and many almost tame deer wandering about.

My classroom was a cosy building standing by itself, filled with courageous, talented women. We had a wonderful week filled with art and laughter.

It didn't rain the entire week, one morning there was a gorgeous rainbow above the dunes.

The first day I was there my friend, Franki Kohler, and I went to Pacific Grove for lunch and shopping. This is the town where the monarch butterflies gathered by the tens of thousands every year during their migration. A sculpture in front of the post office:

Walking back from an exhibit at the art center I spied these gulls hanging out on top of a car and it struck me as funny.

Wednesday night a bunch of the teachers went to dinner on Cannery Row - Tracey Brookshier, Lura Schwarz Smith and Kerby Smith, Reynola Pakusich, Marcia Stein, Annie Smith and I feasted on seafood and cheesecake.

I'll be back next year during the July session and I'm really looking forward to it!

01 March 2009

A group exhibition - in the truest sense


If you like art quilts and you find yourself in the NY metropolitan area next weekend, there's a marvelous show opening at the Mahopac Library. The group of art quilters who meet at the Country Quilter are putting on a group exhibtion that has truly been a group project. Together the group decided on a title for the show, the size range of the pieces, cohesive mounting of the art, specific pieces for the postcard and much more. We had a discussion about writing artist statements, a digital photography demonstration, and a mass attachment of art to canvas and application of screw eyes and wire for hanging. It's been a very rewarding experience and everyone has gotten to see firsthand what goes into mounting an exhibition - from contacting a gallery, to sending out press releases, to organizing the reception. We hope you can come!