Sunday, October 28, 2012

What will the coming week hold?

In the face of Hurricane Sandy (a.k.a "Frankenstorm"), we're battening down the hatches where we can and toting everything else indoors.  I'm taking the dogs for a long walk since it's unlikely we'll spend much time outdoors in the next few days.   I don't know what the week will bring, but I hope everyone stays safe, including those on the West Coast and in the Pacific, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.  For my part, I'm thankful my husband's in town.  Everything is easier when there's someone else to help shoulder the load.... especially if the power's out, the internet's down, and the kids are home from school.

Be safe!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've been fortunate throughout my life to experience kindness in many forms.  There have been life-saving moments:  strangers came to my aid when I was being attacked by a crazy NYC cab driver wielding a tire iron.  There have been moments of kindness that came when I needed emotional help: moms pulled their daughters out of school to decorate Morgan's room while she was in surgery, to give her a boost, and to let her know they were thinking of her.

And then there have been unexpected moments that simply came about because of someone's generosity:  I received such a surprise yesterday.

You may recall my post about how being lazy and undisciplined has affected my studio practice.  (You can read it here if you missed it.)  Marti Lew read the post and figured I might like to have a piece of art to hang in my studio that would make me smile.  She's recently been exploring hand stitching and had this piece already in the works when she read my blog.  She added the "L" and "U" (for Lazy and Undisciplined) in spots throughout the piece -- as symbols of her solidarity with my plight -- and then sent it my way.

Isn't that kind?

"L & U"
Detail of "L & U"
Detail of "L & U"

Moments like these reassure me that our world is filled with generosity and kindness.   I am reminded to think of others and to reach out, in any way that I can.  I am reminded to consciously do a good deed every day, simply for the joy it will bring someone else.

Monday, October 15, 2012

No More Caffeine

Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at making a pocket for Melanie Testa's pocket project in support of breast cancer survivors who choose not to have reconstructive surgery after a masectomy.  When I was in high school, I found out my mom was going in for breast cancer surgery when a nurse called the house and, thinking I was my mother, accidentally told me everything was set for surgery the next day.  Let me just tell you, that is NOT the way to find out about your mom's cancer.

In any event, my mom chose to have a lumpectomy at that time and did so twice again.  Fortunately, her surgeries were successful and she's one of the most active and healthy women of 76 you could ever meet.  I am thankful.

Given my mom's choice, I had asked Melanie if I could still participate in her project (she's hoping to gather 1,000 pockets to symbolize the myriad of women who make the "flattie" choice) and she said "Absolutely".

I didn't have a clue what I wanted to make -- Melanie's pockets are lovely and Deborah Boschert's are so conceptually thoughtful. Ultimately, I just grabbed a piece of my gelatin plate printed fabric, cut it out using the pattern Melanie provides, and started stitching.

I wasn't too pleased with how the pocket looked after it was sewn together; I also didn't immediately have any good ideas to perk it up.  I picked the pocket up again today after realizing that one of the most emotionally difficult things my mom had to contend with after her surgery was her doctor's advice to cut caffeine out of her diet.  This was an enormous change.  As I was growing up, my mom forever had a cup of coffee in her hand or just within reach.  She'd been drinking coffee since she was ten.  Stopping by at a friend's house for an afternoon of coffee and cake was part of her European tradition.  Coffee represented so many things for her including home, fellowship, and a nice relaxing afternoon.

To commemorate this change in her lifestyle, I went back to my pocket and added some hand stitched Xs (as in "crossing out the coffee option") and machine sketched a coffee cup.  The latter's not as crisp as my pencil drawing but hey, this one might have more personality .... and my message is personal.

If I have time, I'd like to make more pockets to honor each of my mom's surgeries, but I'll plan those out a bit more than I did this one.  For one thing, decorate the front of the pocket BEFORE you stitch the thing together.  I didn't, and that was a challenge.  I also won't try to machine sketch on a wee bit of fabric again -- that's not a good idea, either.

 If you or a loved one has been affected by breast cancer, you may want to participate in Melanie's project.  You can read about it on her blog or on her Facebook page.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creative Block -- A New (found) Perspective

The absence from my blog mirrors my absence from my studio.  I have lots of things I'd like to do, but I'm having a hard time getting upstairs to actually do them.  Yes, there are a myriad of tasks and obligations that are tugging at my time (and I detailed them all for a friend yesterday), but if I'm really honest I can't blame them entirely for keeping me from being productive.

So, what's holding me back?

Ever the student (and lover of research), I went on-line today to try to analyze my dilemma.  I know that the internet is typically maligned for being the wrong place to self-diagnose but today, I think I discovered something rather compelling -- a quote from Mary Garden, an opera singer in the early 1900s:

My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and a lack of discipline.

I think there's an element of truth here that relates directly to my studio practice.  I'm lazy and undisciplined.

Ouch ...

I have to admit to myself (and publicly, I guess, if I'm sharing it here) that I'll often pick up a book as opposed to going to my studio when I only have an extra fifteen minutes.  I don't jot down notes of ideas or impressions of color in my journal, even though it sits on my desk about ten paces from the kitchen.  I could go on and on, revealing all my bad habits, but let's not drag all my dirty laundry out in public just yet.

So what am I going to do about this?

Well, I hope it's true that self-awareness is a big step towards changed behavior.  However, that probably won't be enough to get me up the two flights of stairs to the attic where I have my studio. I think I'm going to try the following (and I only say think because I'll have to evaluate this on a regular basis to see if I'm getting the results I want):

- I love to read everyone's blogs.  So, I'm going to take my laptop and read the blogs I follow in my studio. I'll already be in my creative space and hopefully, that will mean I'll turn from my computer to my sewing machine more readily.

- I don't have an iPhone, iCalendar, or any other such electronic device to keep track of my day; I use an old-fashioned calendar.  It works for me because it seems I remember what I write down.  So I'm going to try to actually write a creative appointment with myself whenever I have a block of time.  Hopefully, that will mean I'll remember to make time for my art any time I look at my calendar to see what's next on my agenda.

- I like to have lists of tasks to be done at some point during the week.  Guess what?  I hardly ever write down "Make art".  I think I'll have to change that.  Maybe I should write it down as two separate "to do" items so I go to my studio twice.  And, I think I might want to check each week how many times I actually can cross that off my list.  I probably have a skewed sense of how much time I spend in my studio,  sort of like how I have a skewed sense of how much I eat.  I always eat more than I think I do.  Maybe I can flip-flop those two activities?  That would be really cool -- eat less, create more.  Hmmmm, maybe I'm on to something else here, too.....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Did you know there was such a thing as a "swiveler"?  I think it sounds more like a toy than an attachment for a large piece of construction equipment.