Thursday, December 29, 2016

Step Two of our Dyeing Process

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. Pablo Picasso
     We had to let our plastic-encased thread and fabric sit overnight.  The next morning we woke up pretty early and decided to start the second phase of the dyeing process....rinsing everything out!
Plastic wrapped plate of fabric
Unwrapped, ready to start rinsing with thread on top
And so it begins
A lot of color washes out of the will not remain as dark as it first looks.

 This is just the first comes a rinse with boiling water, to continue until the water runs clear when squeezed out.
And with the matching thread...more to rinse!
     After all the rinsing is completed, then the fabric and thread is ready to make something Fabulous!! Some people will think this is hardly worth the effort when one can go buy already dyed thread and fabric. But I am reminded of a discussion I had with a friend when I was showing her a very intricate sculpture, made from crushed, compacted pecan shells!  Her comment, in awe, was "that person needs to get a life",  a phrase we all throw out when we feel someone is not using their time to the fullest. My response was..."I kind of think they have gotten a life...they are doing what makes them happy, not my choice of how to create, but I can relate to...this is what I choose to do with my time! To me it is very exciting to see the colors take shape and know that I am the one who created them!
       I forgot to add this last picture of the thread that we dyed...very pleased with the outcome!
Our final colors of yummy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Only a Few Days Left of 2016

“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.” 
― L. Frank BaumThe Marvelous Land of Oz

A family selfie! Reminds me of a Norman Rockwell!
     What a great Christmas!  Had all the family over for the day....everybody's favorite foods, stockings to laugh about, gifts to share, and games to play!
      My daughter Andrea lives a little farther away so she stayed a few more days with me.  Yesterday we decided to do some dyeing.  Last year she had given me a set of white thread and dyes  to create ones own colors.  I have an ideal place set up for a couple of people to upstairs studio. It took most of the day...what looks like a simple project always turns out to be more than one expects!

       Step one: soak the thread and any fabric to be dyed in a solution of soda ash.
White thread soaking
Step two: mixing up the dyes...concentrate with water using only red, yellow and blue to make all the shades and hues.
Two cups of twelve colors
Pro Chemical paint we used..some dry powder dye came with the kit, but this is what I already had.
Step three: after separating and tying up the thread, it is put in plastic bags and the dye poured over it

Step three: Pouring in the dye (wear those gloves or you will have multi colored hands!)
Step four: squish up the dye into the thread to distribute it evenly
Step five: Creating dyed to match fabric and thread...variegated. Place fabric and a skein of thread on a styrofoam plate and squirt different paints around on them.  Cover with plastic wrap. 

Dyed fabric and plates ready to be dyed.
Plastic wrap covering
We each did 12 plates of fabric and thread
      So by this time it is late afternoon....time to clean up as the dye is supposed to sit in the plastic overnight.  We were ready for a little of the vine and heated up a plate of leftovers....often better the second day!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Learn Something New Everyday!

“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.” 
― Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n

      Each Holiday Season, I think about sending out cards....some years I even do send out cards! And this is one of those years.  My cards are usually of the "Happy Holiday" variety because I can not seem to get them out  in time to get most places by Christmas. No exception this year! I didn't send out many but I did want to get some holiday stamps so a few days ago, about 4:00PM I went to my local Post Office.  The parking lot was totally full....there was hundreds of people standing in line! So I drove on!!
       This morning I got up as usual but instead of my leisurely breakfast, second cuppa', etc.  I got dressed and made a beeline to the PO just as they were opening...well within 15 minutes, anyway. And about ten other people beat me in line. I figure my odds aren't going to get any better later in the day so I join them.  Oh, and although there are four stations at my PO only one of them is filled by an attendant!
      While standing there looking around, I notice this guy comes in with a package and goes across the lobby to some machine where he is weighing his package, labeling it, mailing it, and gone!  Hmmm, I say to myself..."what's up with that?" I stroll over there and made the discovery of a lifetime!!  There is line...I can get stamps...I can mail small packages...and be gone! Why did I not know about this before?
      Now I am sure I am the last person on Earth to find out about this (except for the ten people in line ahead of whom I do not share this knowledge, because then there would be another line!!!) But if you did not know about this, and you and I are in the PO at the kiosk at the same time, I feel you will need to let me get in front of you, to thank me for sharing this fabulous information with you! Let's not tell everyone....we don't need anymore lines!

A wonderful USPS kiosk....shhh, don't tell!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another finished art work...almost!

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” ― Kahlil Gibran
      Last week I showed the beginning of my new challenge for studioQ inspired by Josef Albers-"A Variation:Four Reds Around Blue"-1948
As my studioQ art group met Monday, I had finished piecing it, but not quilted yet.  I had forgotten that we decided, because of the Holidays, we would have the challenge be due by the January meeting...well, maybe I can have it quilted by then!  So here is my I mentioned before, I design somewhat by the seat of my pants....planning as I go.

first phase
Step two
On design wall to think about-this?
....Or this? at this point only the original center block-phase one is sewn together.  The strips, squares, etc. are sewn but not attached to the central unit yet..that way I can manipulate them to the design I finally decide I like...can you see the subtle differences in these two?
Okay, I am I just have to decide which side should be the top! And which side should be on the bottom? What do you think?
#2 direction
#3 direction
#4 direction
At this moment, today, I am leaning towards #3 on my design wall....but that can be subject to change!  Nothing is absolute!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TED Talks

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 
― Shel Silverstein

TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talksTED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 110 languages.

     I don't know how many of you are fans of TED talks....I am and have signed up for the newsletter that comes periodically.  This month, December, TED talks are doing "31 Days of Ideas".  For the 31 days of December, there is posted an archivel talk  from 15 to 30 minutes. Some are given by people we all know....some are from people I have not heard of...I haven't listened to them daily but this morning, I am catching up on the month of talks. I have given you the link to the list through yesterday (Dec. 16) and you can sign up for the newsletter there also if you are interested.
      The talk I thought I was going to listen to is titled "Hope for Wildlife on Planet Earth"...great title, don't you think?  But, as will happen, the link given was not on this subject!  I was well into what had come up before I realized the error!  But I consider this one of those "happy accidents" because this one really struck a chord of hope in me...there is good in world! We just need to be open to hearing and seeing it!
      So, here is the TED  talk that did come up!  Becci Manson is a photographer who felt compelled to travel to Japan after the 2011 Tsunami which destroyed so many homes and lives.  Her TED talk, "(re) Touching Live Through Photos", is the talk I just listened to and wanted to share with you all.

Becci Manson at here TED filming
I will try to find the one on Hope for Wildlife and send it on in a different post if I can.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

And Some More Music!

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” ~John W. Gardner

     There is a new group, well, sorta new... Pentatonix . They are an A cappella group of young singers who got their start in Arlington, Texas.  Three of the group attended Martin High where my daughter Andrea graduated a few years before these kids did.  I also have the distinct pleasure of being friends with the Arlington kids early music teacher, Myron Ice. Before I start blogging about them, I had asked Myron what he could tell me about them and here is what he had to say..
             " As far as Mitch and Kirstie go...they are a year apart in age, so I started Mitch in 7th and Kirstie in 8th. They were friends even before that, as they "grew up" at Theatre Arlington and were in many productions together. Linda and I, of course, knew them from those performances. I really only teach high school age students, but because of their talent and potential I started them both early! I never formally taught Scott Hoying, the tall blonde. We knew each other, but that was the extent of our relationship. He came to the houses couple of times to work on some stuff with Kirstie and Mitch. All three were students at Martin HS in Arlington and were also in their "Show Choir". Mitch and Scott were in the grade, but Scott graduated a semester early. The 3 of them had an amazing blend early on and Mitch and Kirstie sang several duets for me at my studio recitals each Winter and Spring. 
My focus with Mitch and Kirstie both, however, were their "classical" or "legit" voice, which is where the pop style stems from. They did a great deal of foreign language art songs for me over the years and Broadway. The style they sing currently I think comes from the fact that they learned to sing correctly from the beginning, then were able to expand from there. The ABC Show, The Sing Off, that launched their career, was done totally on their own...I found out that they had auditioned in LA and been accepted was after the fact for me. Linda knows and loves them both from them being in our living room once a week for many years, but never taught them.
  One of the reasons I wanted to blog about them today, aside from the fact that I think they are fabulous.....and I can claim a knowledge of that they had an hour Christmas Special on December 14 on NBC and I missed it!  So when I started searching to see if I could pick it up some other way, I discovered it is going to be on again Saturday night, December 17  at 7:00 on NBC! So for all of you who also missed it...or want to see a repeat....we have another opportunity!
     And one of my favorite songs by them is "Hallelujah" which I have linked here for you to enjoy....harsh lyrics but beautiful vocalization!  They also have a new Christmas album  out which sounds wonderful (this link takes you to a youtube video about the album)....I may have to text Santa to see if that can be added to my Christmas list!

Album Cover

Friday, December 16, 2016

Music, Music! and Some Art

“Where words fail, music speaks.” 
― Hans Christian Andersen

"My Blue Boat Home"
     I've been doing a lot of sewing today and while doing so, I have been listening to music.  Several different genres....folk, soundtracks, bluegrass.  The folk song writer who has been on my mind because of his song "My Blue Boat Home" is Peter Mayer.  If you have not heard this song, be sure to click on the title to hear Scott McNeill singing it.  This is one of my favorite songs which we sing at my church, Westside Unitarian Universalist.  And to find out more about Peter Mayer, a folk singer and writer from Minnesota, click on his name. Here are the lyrics.

Lyrics to My Blue Boat Home

Though below me, I feel no motion 
Standing on these mountains and plains 
Far away from the rolling ocean 
Still my dry land heart can say 
I've been sailing all my life now 
Never harbor or port have I known 
The wide universe is the ocean I travel 
And the earth is my blue boat home

Sun, my sail, and moon my rudder 
As I ply the starry sea 
Leaning over the edge in wonder 
Casting questions into the deep 
Drifting here with my ship's companions 
All we kindred pilgrim souls 
Making our way by the lights of the heavens 
In our beautiful blue boat home

I give thanks to the waves upholding me 
Hail the great winds urging me on 
Greet the infinite sea before me 
Sing the sky my sailor's song 
I was born upon the fathoms 
Never harbor or port have I known 
The wide universe is the ocean I travel 
And the earth is my blue boat home.

     And here is what I have been sewing on...not finished just yet. Below is a picture for our December challenge with studioQ....a painting done by Josef Albers "Variant: Four Reds Around Blue".
"Four Reds Around Blue" by Josef Albers-1948
And here is where I am so far....the process....I hope to have more to show for tomorrow.
Selecting my fabric
Slicing it up!
One of many decisions to make...this one?
....Or this one?
Keeping in mind, I am not trying to replicate the painting, just using it for inspiration! Often, when I am designing I work intuitively...meaning I don't do much planning ahead.  I just do one section, then another and keep adding to it until I am satisfied with the results. Stayed tuned to see what progress is made tomorrow!  Ah, the suspense!  Even I don't know!!!

Samaritan House

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” 
― John Bunyan

Logo for Samaritan House
     Once a month a committee from my church takes a turn going to Samaritan House, serving the Supper Club to the residents there.  We buy fried chicken to feed from 20-35 people each time. And we all take sides and desserts.  They tell us they like our food best because most of what we bring is home-made!  I could say that they probably say that to all their benefactors, but I won' is a good feeling to think they are getting a home made meal!

     Samaritan House has been around since 1991 and has had a lot of people go through their doors. This link will take you to the their website which explains the House itself...history, location, needs, etc.  According to the website there are 35 groups which take part in the Supper Club as we do. And you will see there are many other ways one can pitch in to help.

      Being this was our December time, they are decorated for Christmas.  Last week when we had our dinner here at my Villas, one of our decorations was a beautiful gingerbread house.  Patty Bowles is one of my neighbors here and it was given to her by one of her students whose grandmother had made it for her.  So Patty, whose grandkids don't live near here, wanted to give it away to someone who might enjoy it.  I thought of Samaritan House and took it up there this evening when I went for Supper Club.

Gingerbread House...I wish I knew the woman's name who made it but I don't!
It was very much enjoyed by the residents of Sam House. I hope they will go ahead and eat it in a few days!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Villas Bookclub

“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings.” ― William Shakespeare   

  The book we read this month was "The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry" by Gabrielle Zevin.

Book Cover
And we had a very interesting meeting to discuss it.  One of our members, Sandy Speigel, arranged for us to meet in a relatively  new independent bookstore that opened up in Fort Worth about six months ago.  The bookstore, The Last Word is located at 615 Jennings Ave.

The Last Word
And is owned by Paul Combs, a local Texas man.

Paul Combs, Owner of The Last Word Bookstore
It is a very eclectic, well-stocked place. He offers an area for meetings and plans to expand the area.  There is poetry night once a week...I think Tuesdays, but check his FB page for details.
       Because the book itself is about a guy who owns an Independent bookstore, the meeting place was spot on!  I really enjoyed the book...When I first began reading it, I thought...oh, it's another story about a curmudgeon like Ove, the book we just read last month....but it isn' develops slowly but really grabs you so you don't want to put it down. There is a bit of intrigue that peels away like the layers of an onion.  I definitely recommend it. And go visit The Last Word! Independent bookstores need our support!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

An Interesting Website

“I can hardly wait for tomorrow, it means a new life for me each and every day.” 
― Stanley Kunitz

      There are a few websites that I subscribe to...mostly art related. is one of them. I get a newsletter from them a few times a week and it is always full of great articles about artists, techniques, etc.  I believe the subject matter would be of interest to most anyone, artist or not.
       The latest article I just read is on a fiber artist Ian Berry.  He does fantastic work in denim.

Ian Berry in his Studio
"Heath Street" by Ian Berry
     Here is a link about a solo show that opened this past London!  He is British-born but his art is international. And here is a link to more of his art and a link to a video about how he creates his art. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

'Tis the Season

“What are you planting today to harvest tomorrow?” 
― Lailah Gifty Akita

     So busy!!!  This past weekend, the Villas on the Bluff where I live had two events! On Saturday night, we had our catered Christmas dinner from Olive Garden held at our clubhouse. We had a special treat this year with entertainment by a few of the members of the Trinity Terrace Ukulele Band featuring singers also. They led us in a singalong after eating!

Trinity Terrace Ukulele Band (in part)
One of my friends and neighbor here at the Villas, Reed Bilz, is also a member of this group and arranged to have them play for us.

One of the decorated condos
Then on Sunday, we had our second annual open house.  There were six people who opened up their homes for a tour...often it is those who have really gone all out on decorations or have done some remodeling in their homes.  There are four basic floor plans here and most of us have put our individual stamp on our condos.  So it is fun to see what each has done to this effort!  Then after the open house our social chair person with help from her minions, has a little hot cider and treats in the clubhouse.

Home Tour

Our fearless social chairperson, Gloria Belisch
And one of her minions, Mary Hiett, who hosted the reception after the home tour.

Then on Monday, I had lunch with a dear friend, Khadija Kapasi. Khadija and I had gotten to know each other when we served on the scholarship committee with Trinity Valley Quilter's Guild many years ago and just recently reconnected.  I knew Khadija and I were of the same mindset philosophically and politically, but this was the first time we had really had a one on one conversation and I discovered we really are of one mind!!! Great to see her! And she brought me this lovely bouquet!

Bouquet from Khadiji
Then Monday evening, we held an impromptu dinner, serving two purposes....for the volunteers serving the dinner and helping with the reception to eat up the left over lasagna and fetticine (small compensation for the work involved!) and to celebrate Burble's birthday!  Eight of us gathered around my table about  5:30 and had a great time well into the night!
The Lovely Miss Burble!!
I feel very fortunate to have moved to the Villas...great people and great location.  Dick and I located here shortly before he became so ill.  When we located in the country on retirement, we knew the day would come when we would need to move closer in so how fortunate that this came available  at the precise right time! He was very happy to have me "settled" in a good location!