Time passes

days have rhythms
of rise and (shine or not) 
of sun and light and lunch
and the slow tumble of the afternoon to evening
slouching more deeply into the couch, then
staggering upstairs to bed

Weeks have a rhythm imposed by expectation? Experience?
on Sunday we do nothing, as aggressively as possible
and then the work week drags its way across our desks
with increasing delight (or relief) to Friday
when we wonder where the week went? again? 

months do not have rhythms, except to think 
Oh, February already? and then
what? July? in the next breath
but I can find no internal rhythm to a September, 
or March, or any other month -
although sometimes a great yellow moon 
comes shouting through the window
into the living room in the dusk

years have a rhythm 
of daylight and darkness, 
of warmth and cold
of green and gold and purple gray and back 
around to the clear green haze of spring
and mud underfoot, and new things starting
burgeoning, pressing forth

The rest are all imposed? invented? by humans, 
the decades and centuries
the generations, 
eras and epochs

still earth keeps track
day by day
year on year
a vast clock, spinning 
through time and space

Which is to say, I have been doing things, useful things even, and simply not writing about it.

Happy solstice – the days are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Thank you for keeping the sunlight for us, in the Southern Hemisphere.

preparations, long and short term

I am packing for a workshop today, and leaving tomorrow, and coming back on Sunday. The workshop is at Bennington College, in the lower left corner of Vermont. A bunch of different things are being taught, from glass and woodworking to embroidery. I signed up for Embroidery Expanded, which I am very much looking forward to.

I have a rudimentary knowledge of embroidery, and enough knowledge to look up stitches I do not remember. I signed up for this particular workshop to gain some ideas for how to embroider on non-traditional surfaces, and with unusual materials. I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of things we talk about, and the community of people who think this sounds like fun.

I’m also pulling together materials for the #DailyFeb2020 challenge that starts this Saturday on February 1st. The plan (subject to change) is to embroider something every day, honing my newly acquired skills, and post the results on Instagram. I have a bunch of tiny laser cut frames for that project, although I have also been thinking very hard about three dimensional shapes and how to form and embroider them. Plans are allowed to change – that’s how I learn things!

The third thing I am working on is the 100 Day Project. I started that (stealthily) on Jan 22. It will run through the end of April. I seem to be able to think about 100 days more easily than a whole year. I’d like to try another daily for a year project, but my last couple of tries have not been successful, so I’m scaling back, and looking for a shorter horizon. You can see my progress with my 100 things on Instagram, with the tag #the100dayproject.

three days and a stamp pad

three days and an ink pad

I mentioned I made my own stamp pad (and spilled green ink all over). I wanted some new colors, so I made a purple and pink pad, and did not spill any ink. One of my Flickr contacts wanted to know what I used, so I show you the tiny adorable bottles of Tsukineko inks and blank stamp pads from Dharma Trading.

Over the weekend I took Alice and Red Kate, and we took my mother too and went to the Peabody Essex Museum. A friend had acquired timed tickets for us to hang out with about 40 tiny adorable zebra finches and their musical stylings on a half dozen electric guitars and basses. They looked like this – the picture is courtesy of PEM,  because my sketches of the birds were not successful. Zebra finch 6


what I did at summer camp

by me, Lee:


what I did at Summer Camp

to recap:

  • I made a circle a day
  • I made a bunch of experimental art pieces using white fabric and a ton of thread
  • I made other experimental art pieces using only thread and odd non-fabric things
  • I went kayaking
  • I sang to the moon
  • I waded in exquisitely cold water
  • I stitched an achievement badge for each of my classmates and my teacher
  • I made some velvet jacket for beach stones
  • I made some lined linen jackets for other beach stones
  • I ate a lot of very nice food, including a great deal of dessert
  • I was as nice as possible to everyone I bumped into (some of these were easier than others)
  • I came home ready to think about what I'm doing, but it will probably take a while for this to sink in – most things take a while to sink in for me…


twenty five

twenty five

I like square numbers. Nine was nice, sixteen was lovely, and now twenty five. 

I signed up for a drawing class. The first one was today. It was slow, and the teacher is opinionated. I am not sure about some of his opinions, but he can certainly draw, and he can probably help me draw better. The best thing he said was that he was tempted to bring a laminating machine to class so that he could issue Artistic Licenses to all his students. Our interpretation is what makes it art. 


never never (never) hurry

I have been spending time with Alice in the studio doing Santa Claus things.

We'd decided on making four more hippos and rhinos, two of each, for the young cousins we are visiting for Thanksgiving. We got fabric yesterday, lovely soft fleece, and cut out pieces for all the aminals. This evening, we sat down to make them. Alice was working on an essay on the yin-yang symbol, and I was stitching away. Once the first was done (a blue argyle rhino) Alice started stuffing while I finished the second rhino. I stopped for a phone call, and came back see that Alcie had stuffed the green butterfly covered rhino, but it looked….odd. In fact, I had stitched the head where the tail should be. I'll have to cut off the head and restitch it to the correct end of the creature. 

So I've paused to regroup, and to remind myself to slow down and make sure I have things correct. To my credit, the head is right side up, just attached to the wrong end. I'll deal with it when I've had more sleep. 

new skillz

Alice cleverly convinced me to sign up for a pot throwing class with her. We couldn't fit the kid's class into our schedule, but the kind gentleman who runs the place said she'd be fine in one of the adult classes and I could come too if I wanted. I have yearned to throw pots in the same way I have yearned to spin and weave for years now. It isn't a burning kind of yearning, but one that persists from year to year.

In class today, our second so far, Alice and I made rapid progress backwards. Where we had both thrown fairly competent and rational looking things last week, this week all was wabbly and floppy. I realized I do my nicest work when it doesn't matter – clearly I need a certain level of relaxation to accomplish pots – and with practice clay. So I kept thrashing around with more and more water and clay…and ultimately produced only one thing I wanted to dry out and mess with further. But that one thing may be my cereal bowl if it comes out of the kiln well.

Alice was having similar problems with intensity of trying. Last week she produced a series of interesting little Ali Baba pots with bulbous bodies and little necks and flared tops. This week she was most interested in a double container, looking rather like a candle holder in a deep dish. She made a series of these and each time they were close to finished looking, she'd try to push it just a little farther or thinner and it would splorch. She is remarkably patient and resilient, but it wore thin on her after a while so we cleaned up and came home early.

There will be pictures when I remeber to bring my camera to class, or I manage to bring a piece home.

2008 in review

Just to review, I said I'd do the following things in 2008.

Art commitments:

  • media of the moment – an extended set of experiments with a
    particular media going for at least a month, possibly six weeks, and
    consisting of the daily thing and the weekly thing
  • daily thing – daily sample of the media of the moment
  • weekly thing – using the samples or new knowledge of the media of the moment, make a 5×7” work

The Media of the Moment didn't make it past the transfer paints and other transfer stuff. I let them lapse at the end of February because I don't like the feel of the man-made fabrics I had to use, and I was missing the cottons and the ability to paint and dye things.  The daily thing and the weekly thing failed at about the same time. I think for a daily thing it has to be completable – the giant advantage of the postcards is that each was an object, and when it was done, I was done for the day. I can rethink that for 2009.

  • monthly thing – SharonB's Take it Further Challenge  (TIF) – work off the colors every time, try to get to the theme as well

Pretty good success, I managed to finish all but one month, and I did one out of order and with no object to show for it (my workroom which was most of September and she wanted to hear about in October). Plus I got 10 interesting pieces from the year that are bigger than I have been making, and will go into a gallery show this coming year (more on that later).

  • trees/leaves – finish 5 of 10 leaves each series (a project I have been idly thinking about for a year) for gingko, birch, dogwood, maple, oak

oops. Not yet.

  • start the first of the weeds series on 12×12" backgrounds

yes, started one and have backgrounds for two more, and I am liking them a lot.

Personal stuff:

  • call your mother – do better
  • ride a horse – doing much better – three to ride steadily, a teacher, and the potential for competing with one in the spring
  • laugh with a friend – better
  • go to a gallery/museum – yes! almost monthly
  • ride your bike with your family – yes! two tandem rides totally rock!

In the unexpected successes department, I have some.

  1. First, I never really expected to get the work room emptied, wallpaper stripped, walls repainted, and new and usable furniture in and refilled. I still have some stuff in our bedroom that has to go back in, but the longer it remains in my bedroom, the less I think I need it in the workroom. More things into the cellar, and from there, probably on to the next owners. 
  2. I managed a sales milestone. I took my work to a craft show, which was interesting and I learned some things, like make sure there will be people going to the craft show so there will be someone to buy the stuff you bring. 
  3. I started an Etsy store, but I have to put things in it. 
  4. I applied to the gallery at the local library and I was invited to show my stuff. I do not have dates, but when I do I will tell Everyone, and there will an opening, with cheese and crackers and wine and beer. You MUST come.


circus thoughts

Well, that was …. uninspiring. Surprisingly so. We went to see
Ringling Bro.s & Barnun & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth at the
Boston Garden (I don't care who paid for it is remains the Garden, only
slightly removed from the manky glory I remember from my youth) and,
wow. Not much there there.

Aerin said it best, when she
pointed out that they clearly have pots of money and spend it freely,
but make inadequate use of the extensive talents of the people they
have hired. Every act stopped before it got interesting. No individual
was allowed complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty. The simple fact that
there was always one more thing to look at than I had attention to
apply meant that I felt I might be missing something, yet once I turned
my eyes to a new point, there was still nothing much going on. The
aerial stuff could be accomplished by anyone at Circus Smirkus (plus
they didn't let the girls do anything interesting on trapeze –
something I pay attention to.) There were too many clowns and no one
got any personality except Bello and I was pretty darn sick of him by
the end. Plus it was painfully loud. Really, really, really loud.

Having complained at length, there were some things I
liked a lot. I liked that there were a lot of animals. I liked the
horses (although the above applies here as well – they had some ponies
in the opening parade we never saw again, and two Freisians who were
gorgeous and should have had a bigger part in something, anything….)
There were liberty zebras who did a little act. They were not as
comfortable as the horses, but seemed in good spirits (the last one was
bucking at the whip, which made me laugh each time). I loved that the
dogs looked like they were in some kind of dog heaven – their tails
were going, their eyes were bright, they were having a great time. For
all that there were protesters outside complaining about the elephants,
they didn't look unhappy. They looked like it was work, but not bad
work, simply something that was not recess. I felt worse for the big
cats – mostly tigers I think – who seemed really out of place. I think,
in retrospect, they were encouraged to look fierce, but they looked mad
and miserable to me. Not abused. Not starved. Just in the wrong place.

were told to see the circus by our teachers, to see where we fit in the
circus continuum (to be fair, it was aimed at the pro track kids, and
Aerin's class of advanced teens, not the fat and lumpy middle-aged  performer wanna-be that I am). I can see now why Cirque was so
astonishing when it appeared for the first time almost 20 years ago –
it is a really different aesthetic.

It is only a little sobering to realize that I am a circus snob.

small deities

Alice and I were going from one place to another in Brattleboro when we were captivated by something visually and aromatically spicy. The shop on Flat Street selling things from India sucked us right in. We wandered for a moment, caught by different things. Alice fingered all the tiny interesting objects – there were puppets combining men and women into one two headed flip/flop creature though only one was visible at a time, and boxes of tiny skinny bangles, some too small to fit over Alice's hands. I found an astounding array of textiles, embroidered, dyed, appliqued and stitched together. And we wound up together looking at a shelf of tiny gods. Alice wanted to know who they represented, and I had no clue. The only individual I knew, even glancingly, is Ganesh. Others I have only heard of, and could not match names with the images in front of me.

Alice picked up one in particular and was ready to bring her home when I stopped her. I found myself saying "We can't invite her into the house if we don't know what she stands for." Which has made me think of all the things that do come into the house, when I don't know what they stand for. Food, clothing, random stuff migrates into the house, invited in on the spur of the moment yet without a clear statement of intent.

Aside from a new metric to think about, I have to do some research on the panoply of Indian deities and see who caught Alice's eye.