I hadn’t thought of my patchwork potholders for a long time. But a couple of weeks ago I was showing the Gallery page on my website to someone and she remarked on a picture of my potholders and how good they looked all together. That night before falling asleep I thought it would be fun to make some patchwork potholders. It had been so long. The next day I got two emails from people wanting to order some potholders. It’s been so much fun filling those orders, when I’m done, I’m going to make some more.
Archive for June, 2011
I’ve always loved the beautiful ride to the Cossayuna Post Office. It makes shipping my quilts and potholers a pleasure. The Post Office is a tiny place and the postmistress is always friendly and helpful, and there’s never a line. It’s one of the perks of living in upstate NY. As I was driving there this morning to ship some quilts I thought I’d share the experience. The music is Jennifer Berezan and Friends “In These Arm”.
I finished “Leaving the Tribe” today and stitched a tiny MW on the bottom right corner. I think the sewing machine signature is going to work.
I have to say, I love the migrating paper-dolls. I think I’ll start my next streaming piece with them or their cousins. And the toaster, there’s nothing like a kitchen appliance to make me feel at home.
My signature has evolved. My first quilts I didn’t sign. At some point I came up with a symbol in a rectangle which I think I may have stitiched on a quilt or two. Then I started using embroidery thread and stitching a big “MARIA” on my quilts. Lately I’ve been using a permanent marker and my initials MW.
Today for the first time I used my sewing machine. I practiced once and did what came naturally. A spirally M W. When I looked at it I thought, “That doesn’t look like me”. But who knows. I’ve evolved too, maybe I just haven’t caught up with my signature.
I’ve been working on “Leaving the Tribe” for a couple of weeks. First I ran out of purple thread then I couldn’t figure out how to finish it off. I knew the different shades of purple velvet was right, but it needed something else and everything I tried with it just didn’t work. It wasn’t until yesterday, when I was meditating, that the color “maroon” came to mind. Today it finally came together, and pretty easily too. Maybe it just had to percolate, or maybe it’s that while in meditation, I was able to listen to myself. Maybe it was inside of me all along and I just wasn’t listening.
Last week Paula Josa-Jones came to the farm to interview Jon and me about us and our donkeys, Lulu, Fanny and Simon. To explore the idea of how they relate to our creative work.
Paula is a choreographer who creates Equestrian Dance Performances. She works with the relationship between the dancers body and the horses body. She believes that the most important thing for her dancers to do is listen to how their bodies are telling them how to move. Also that the dance between human and equine is about listening.
When Paula first asked me if and how the donkeys have influenced my work I really wasn’t sure. But since seeing one of her dance performances “Ride” and hearing her talk about it, I have come to realize that my relationship with the donkeys have made me understand my work as it relates to my body and the idea of listening. (I wrote about my body and my work last week. Paula’s visit sparking the idea and the Bobby McFerrin video ” ” taking it to the next step.)
This week I realized that it was my experience with the donkey’s that taught me to listen with my heart instead of my head. When I sit with the donkeys, I am still and quiet. I open my heart and they place their bodies next to mine and the space between us becomes charged. I didn’t know what was happening, but this week I found myself having a conversation with someone where my intention was to listen with my heart not my head. The idea came to me when I was meditating, but it was only after doing it with a person, that I realized that it was what I had been doing with the donkeys all along.
Listening with the heart means listening without the ego. Listening without interrupting or getting defensive and when I feel myself becoming argumentative simply saying to myself, “That’s my head, I’m listening with my heart” This way I can really hear what is being said without the ego jumping in to “protect” me.
When I listen with my heart, instead of my head, while doing my work, all the doubt and self recrimination, the judgement, the neurosis and fears lose their voice and I can be true to myself, I can hear my inner-self. When I listen with my heart my work is honest and uninhibited and successful.
Just got back from the Gallery 99 opening. We bought “Job’s Wife” one of Joyce Zimmerman’s assemblages. An hour and a half of fun with Diane, Patrice and Anne aka “The Lovely Ladies” then sushi and sake and greentea ice cream. I’m ready for bed.
Tomorrow between 6-7:30 is the opening for the latest Gallery 99 show. If you can’t make the reception you can visit the show in the lobby of the Charles Wood Theater, 207 Glen St Downtown Glens Falls through July 2nd from noon-7:30pm. Or you can just check out the show on the video. For more info see APE
Yesterday after the Gallery 99 show was hung Diane and I found an injured pigeon on the sidewalk outside the theater. Diane has worked with Raptors so she could see the pigeon hadn’t eaten for a while and would starve if we didn’t do something. We were going to get Sushi and talk about the next show at the Pig Barn Gallery, but instead put the bird in a box and took him to Diane’s house. Her boys and husband immediately helped out, going on line to see what could be done for him and feeding him water with an eye dropper. When he wouldn’t eat, Diane called a Wildlife Rehabilitator so he could be with the experts.
Then we had last nights leftovers (delicious baked ziti) for lunch. We made some decisions together about the next show. I’m planning on having it on Columbus Day Weekend. We’ll hook up with Gardenworks again and have some of their local cheeses for the reception. It will be a Functional Art Show. Some of the exhibitors we’re thinking of are: Blown glass earrings, hand spun knitted hats, pottery, hand made pincushions, Diane’s computer parts boxes, and my potholders. I’m excited already!
Gallery 99 is back! Great art for $99 or less. Diane Swanson, Joyce Zimmerman (both have work in the show) and I hung it in the lobby of the Charles Wood Theater today.(207 Glen St Glens Falls NY) We’ll be going to the opening reception Friday, June 24th between 6 and 7:30 pm. There will be three shows in the theater throughout the summer. The theme of each show will be based on the play that is running. The first is “Kiss of Death”, this Gallery 99 show deals with the dark side.
I loved meeting Joyce, who grew up in Coney Island. You can imagine she had some work that fit the theme. She has 5 wonderful assemblages in the show. Each is based on a woman from the Bible. They are photo collages, in plastic containers, of her sculptures of the same subject. In the video she describes one sculpture of a 6 foot tall women with 1000 plastic baby dolls sewn to her skirt.
“Kiss of Death” is on display June 22 – July 2. Monday – Saturday noon to 7:30 pm. The other artists in the show are Nicole Catalpano, Tom Ryan, Shelley Valachovic, and Tom Watkins.
I was tacking my latest quilt when I stopped to watch a Bobby McFarrin video and noticed how he uses his whole body when making music. As I went back to work I realized, for the first time, how my body is a part of my work. I lay my quilts out on the floor, constantly bending and straightening, I crawl around them rearranging pieces of fabric and pinning them together, I stand on my desk to get a different view, sometimes I even step on them. I hang my quilt from the ceiling when tacking, walking from front to back to pull the yarn through and tie it. I circle it and lift it, walk around it and crawl under it. It drapes over my arms and I bunch it up in my hands. It’s like a dance, an embrace.
I never thought of the physicality of my quilts before. Once they leave me another dance begins with the person who buys them. They hang the quilt on the wall encountering them face on during the day. They place them on a bed or chair, personal and intimate furniture. They wrap them around their body or lay them on their lap. They are about beauty and comfort, warmth and nurturing.
Making them makes me feel good and people loving them and using them make us both feel good.
Bobby Mc Ferrin said he wants his music to make people feel joy. He said “When you take them to that place, you open up a space where grace comes in.”
Whether I’m sharing the process on my website, showing or selling my work or curating a show at the Pig Barn Gallery, I want to do the same.
Last week Jon and I were in a gallery in Vermont and the owner told us about Frances Holliday Alford a well known quilter whose studio was nearby. He said ” Just knock and walk into her studio she loves to meet new people.” We found the studio and and when no one answered our knock Jon stuck his head in the door and yelled,”hello”. A friendly voice answered telling us to come in and look around. Frances was upstairs in her studio. Downstairs there was an impressive collection of art quilts. Frances gave us a tour, naming quilters I had never heard of.
Upstairs in the studio two women were working with Frances on a collaborative quilt for a competition. They were all so friendly, telling me about the work they were doing, asking me about my work and looking at my website. They even invited me to join their Tuesday workshops.
I listened to them talk about the hand dyed fabrics and quilting techniques. How different competitions required the quilting stitches to be so many inches apart and the batting a certain thickness. They mentioned how a collaborative quilt should look like it was made by one person.
As I listened I came to realize that not only was this a world I had never entered, but in it, I wasn’t even technically a quilter. I tack my quilts, I don’t stitch them. We exchanged emails and I left thinking that maybe I’d join one of their Tuesday workshops.
As we made our way back to the car, I started to doubt myself and my work. Perhaps I should be making quilts the way they were. Maybe I should be dying my own fabrics (like they teach in many of the quilting books and magazines) or learning the latest techniques. I had never entered a contest. That old feeling of being left out, of not belonging started to creep in. That’s when I knew my mind was going to a dark place. Frances and her friends did everything possible to make me feel welcome in their group, including inviting me to join them. So this feeling was not coming from them, but from somewhere inside of me.
I acknowledged the old feeling for what it was, felt it, then let it go.
Our work is so different. We have different intentions, materials, priorities, and techniques. I’m not anymore interesting in making their type of quilt than they are making my type of quilt. I’m sure I could learn something working with them, but I could learn something in a drawing class too. I think if I have a goal or intention it’s important to do things which support it. To choose those things carefully and not spread yourself to thin.
So I won’t be joining the workshop, I have quilts and potholders to make and Pig Barn Gallery shows to plan and animals to tend to and a loving relationship to enjoy and grow in. That’s enough for right now.