Monday, May 18, 2015

Looking Back to Forge Ahead

Here we go again, lol. I am embarking on a summer, fall and winter full of creativity in my studio. I came back from the SAQA Convention in Portland feeling pumped. I took a look at my exhibition goals for the year again and gave them a tweeking. I have dropped two calls for entry out of my 'wish list' and added three more to it. In order to apply to those calls for entry, I need to get cracking and make 4, yes that's four, new major quilts. All of them are in the range of 40" x 50" with one of them being only slightly smaller. 

The first one I tackled needs to be completed and photographed by the end of September. I have been waiting for the right time for this one and I have two exhibitions that it could fit well into. It is an image of my son sitting on a wicker settee that has an enormous morning glory vine woven through it as he waters the roots with a watering can. A city skyline of dark ominous buildings with smoke stacks rise behind it. It is a story of youth and hope for the nurturance of the natural world despite the overwhelming expanse of a growing technological society.

The photo above is a process shot of the last area of my drawing, which is the architecture in the background. You can see that to avoid confusion with a very detailed drawing I have color coded areas with green and yellow sharpies. I will be showing many process shots here as I get going creating this piece in four distinct parts. The first is to create the background which will have the buildings and the foreground. I will quilt all of this before going to my next step. I will be drawing the wicker settee with discharge onto a lovely deep blue hand dye as the second step. Once the settee is complete I will fuse it to the background and then as a third step, add the leaves and morning glories. They will get stitched before continuing to the last step. The fourth step will be to create Peter, my son, by fusing him onto a light pre-fused muslin. Once he is complete I will fuse him onto the quilt in just the right spot and stitch him down. Simple steps, lots of time and work!

As I was getting in the frame of mind for this piece, I have been thinking about it's meaning and I have been drawn backwards in time to think about Peter and his ideals when he was the age in the picture. There was another quilt made at that time by Peter, 17 of his classmates and myself, which we called the "I Have A Dream" quilt.

Some of the children involved in making "I Have A Dream". Peter is at the lower left.

This photo was taken thirteen years ago, back when I volunteered at my kids' elementary school as a visiting artist teacher. We made several community quilts but I refused to let them just do patchwork. We translated their drawings into art quilts. It was magical seeing all those light bulbs going on at the same time. These kids were around 11 years of age when they did their drawings and learned to fuse and stitch.

For this project I knew we would never be able to work a piece as large as we had planned, so we broke it up into sections and pairs of two children had to work together to create a single drawing that spoke to both of them. They were asked how they interpreted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech and what it meant to them. Then they drew their images separately. We paired like minded kids together and then they had to fuse their drawings together into one cohesive drawing. Two of the children actually got the fun task of drawing Dr. King in the center two segments.

Peter drew a prison which was being knocked down by a wrecking ball because the society he dreamed of had no need for prisons, and his partner drew an organic marketplace full of healthy food. They dreamed of a massive area to grow and sell healthy food.

There was my son knocking down buildings we didn't need to build a farmer's market with his friend. He was 11 when he did this. He is now 24. He is still something of an idealist who wants nothing more than to fall off the grid and live in a remote spot fully dependent only on himself. The reality is that he is working a bar in an establishment in Florida for the tourist trade. But I have to admire where this young man's head is and has been for almost all his life. 

Peter and his finished segment

So I am letting the spirit of a young man who wants to see the natural world honored and cared for in a nurturing way be the spirit of this new quilt of mine. All the kids whose dreams of a wonderful world in which to live, who let their dreams spill into that fantastic quilt so many years ago, are inspiring me as I work.

Stay tuned for the fabric choices for the background coming up soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Welcome to Portland, Oregon! I took a trip out to attend SAQA's yearly Convention, leaving April 28th and returning to Rhode Island May 4th. This was my view from room 1558 on the 15th floor of the Doubletree Hilton. I nearly got myself in the door and met up with Co-Rep Sue Bleiweiss and Lyric Kinard for lunch in the Lloyd Center. 

This statue carved from marble is a stack of coins and had poetry and words carved all around the outside of the coins having to do with wealth, money and prosperity. Interesting central piece for the entrance to a mall. Inside this typical mall our first sight was a window full of frilly prom gowns. Hilarious. They also have an indoor skating rink in this mall, rather progressive!

We rested after a very light lunch and then got back together for a bus trip to Toro Bravo, a Spanish restaurant specializing in tapas. 11 of us set out and had the best time sharing our food and getting to know each other. I was overjoyed and a little star struck sitting next to Rosalie Dace from South Africa. It was a fantastic way to start the weekend and the bacon wrapped dates were heavenly.

The following day started off with business. The Reps meeting had us busy for a while. After we took a quick jaunt by Max, the transit system, to Powell Books which is a 5 story book store. Joined by Teresa Duryea Wong from Texas, Sue and I perused the arts level of the store. We found her new book on the shelves and she signed them for the store.

Several dollars less and with a few heavy bags we walked back to catch the Max. Along the way a few things caught our eye. I had to take a picture of this 'carpets' sign which was completely retro from the '60s and spinning round to reveal 'rugs' on the back side.

After drooling over beautiful artisan wares in 'The Real Mother Goose', we caught the train just in time to shop some more at the SAQA vendor marketplace where I did some real damage with the gorgeous hand dyed cottons made by Carol Eaton of CT.

The next day, Friday was business all day for me. It started with a lecture and panel discussion with the SAQA international members as they gave us an idea of how things run in other countries. Pictured is Hsin-Chen Lin with her daughter as interpreter and her quilt in front of her. There is a major show in Taiwan next year sponsored by SAQA and I think I will enter pieces into it. There is also another show coming up in Canada, first SAQA show there ever, and I will also be creating a piece to enter for this show.

After attending two wonderful break out sessions with Sue Reno and Lyric Kinard, I started to prepare for the SAQA Maker Space. Run by Kate Themel of CT, it was a fun evening event filled with learning and creating experiences. I was there doing my demo on how fabric markers and pens can enhance a design. Thanks have to go to three companies who provided pens for me to demo with, Tsukineko, Sakura and Jacquard. As you can see by the 1st photo to the right, I was drawing a crowd all night. Thanks to Elizabeth Bamberger of Portland, I had a light box to do demos on and for members to use.

These are my 3 demo pieces which I used to demonstrate the use of pens and markers. 

We all had such a blast and boy was I tired by the end of the night. That did not stop a few of 
us from having a glass of one of Portland's many vineyard wines at the bar while we discussed what was coming up next in our studios.

After lectures/panels in the morning, Sue 
and I set out for our tour day. We started by taking in the orchid show in the exhibition center of the Hilton. Wow, there were some eye popping plants on display, many with big blue and red ribbons.

This one kind of looks like a monkey's face. I just loved all 
the purple spots.

We then took in a SAQA Oregon Regional exhibition called Exploring Layers. It was a well put together show with plenty of eye candy. Seeing quilts always makes me want to get into the studio and work, work, work!

Rift Valley
Laura Jaszkowski, Eugene, OR

After a long day touring around Portland, we took a rest and got ourselves ready for the Spotlight Auction and Banquet. 

I got out my best outfit, along with my turquoise squash blossom and headed downstairs to find the hall brimming with people and a scrumptious buffet set up.

I had made a piece for the Spotlight Auction called Tiny Dancers, pictured on the far left of the photo of artwork for sale. It sold to Kat Larrea of Alaska. Woohoo my piece is going to Alaska! 
This is the one I was lucky enough to 
purchase with a little hovering to ensure no one stole it from me. My spotlight! by Phyllis Cullen from HI is now the second of Phyllis' pieces to grace my studio. I just love my little froggies!

Sheila Finzer 

Sunday morning was the wrap up of the weekend. A panel of Oregon artists gave us an overview of how they work. Very inspiring!

And then....I had the ultimate pleasure of meeting up with a high school 'bestie', Teenamarie Callahan who I last saw at her wedding as she and her new husband left to start their life in the Pacific Northwest. Our screeching and whooping in the lobby of the Hilton alerted everyone that something special was happening. Teenamarie and I spent the day catching up in a way that emails just can't touch. With the backdrop of Multnomah Falls, two best friends found each other again.

On the plane ride home, in the early hours of the morning, as I took in the beauty of Mt St Helens, Mt Hood and the Columbia River, I found myself smiling with gratitude for the events which had just transpired during the past 5 days. New and old friends, inspiring work, educational experiences, all wrapped into one wonderful conference. 

Now....I get to transform that inspiration in my studio.