Saturday, October 14, 2017

The US Virgin Islands



In 1992 Ray first went to the US Virgin Islands as a consultant, managing the implementation of a new student information system at the University of the Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas. Talk about a dream job! Well, it was actually hard work and not always a dream, but he fell in love with the place and the people, and when I was able to visit, so did I. After that initial job ended he stayed in touch and over the past 25 years he has returned numerous times for special projects at the university. We have made friends and shared in many memorable and beautiful adventures in that bit of paradise and have watched in horror as so much of it has been destroyed by Hurricanes this past month. Very alarming to me, has been the lack of attention the USVI has received from the news and the US government. I know—between hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and even that volcano in the South Pacific, it's hard to know who needs help first or most. Everyone needs it. Most of us can't do much, but each of us can do something.

When Ray made that first trip, in 1992, I made the quilt, above, as a gift for him. It is called "Red Roofs of Charlotte Amalie." Charlotte Amalie is the main town on St. Thomas, famous for the beautiful, old white, shuttered houses with their distinctive red roofs. It was the first art quilt I ever entered in a juried show and it won a prize! It's old now, but still one of my favorites. It was made with love and has a lot of meaning. Last week I had prints of the quilt made to offer to anyone who would like to make a donation to Hurricane relief for The US Virgin Islands. Today's email from a friend in St. Thomas paints a grim picture of widespread destruction and difficulty. He writes:

"I've been working to replace the roofs that were blown off the small detached apartment. I'm sort of re engineering it to make it stronger so it won't happen again in the next hurricane. Getting plywood and screws has been a challenge. Fortunately I already owned many tools or this would be even more daunting. I'm replying to this now because it's raining again and I had to stop working outside.

I believe about 10 percent of St Thomas has electricity. St John is zero percent and St Croix is similar to here. I think about half of St Thomas has cell coverage and none on St John. There is a curfew between 7pm and 5am here. Other islands are different. There are still power lines and other debris on the roadways making travel dangerous. There are no traffic signals and most traffic signs are gone. Home Depot isn't really open other than for some lumber because of damage. Cost U Less is closed, a Costco knock off. There are lines at the gas stations that are open. Lines at banks and ATMs. To acquire anything may take all day. Few places have a connection to run credit cards. This is a cash economy. It's very weird.

I myself have bad days and worse days. I try not to think about what all has happened. It's too overwhelming. I'm trying to focus on fixing the apartment to get it rented and then fix the leaks in my house and then find full employment to see where that leaves me. My boat is so damaged I can't even sail away.....

Life is hard here. Many have left with no intention of returning. The numbers of homeless, jobless and prospect less is astounding."





So, here's my deal, my small "something"—make a donation of $10, or more to hurricane relief specifically designated for the USVI, and I will send you a 5" x 7" print of "Red Roofs..." I am donating the cost of printing and mailing, so your entire donation will benefit the Islands. Here are three ways you can do this:


  1. Use this PayPal button for your donation to my PayPal account. I will transfer all proceeds to the One America Fund, established by our five living past US presidents, for hurricane relief to the US Virgin Islands. (Be sure you include your name and mailing address. )





  2. Make your donation directly to the One America Fund (https://www.oneamericaappeal.org/), designating it for the Virgin Islands, then email me with your mailing address so I can send your print.

  3. Visit me in my studio during the Washington County Artists Open Studio Tour next weekend (October 21 & 22), see the original quilt on display, make a donation and take home your print.




Everything helps, Small donations add up. Maybe, between us, we can donate enough to restore at least one of those red roofs! It will be beautiful and safe again and I hope you will see it all for yourself someday. Thank you.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer winding down








Coming toward the official end of summer and I'm feeling I'm due for some kind of a "reboot". My friend June has been taking a summer break from her artistic practice in a purposeful and declared way. I did not declare or intend, but seem to have taken the summer off from what passes for "work" as well. Not much to show on the fiber art front and the blog has been pretty pathetic. Sorry about that. Or maybe not sorry. It's been a pretty great summer.

Two weeks ago my post was "part 1" of my vacation photos, which kind of implied there would be a part 2. Well, I went back to look at what photos I had taken with grandkids at Universal Studios and Los Angeles, and found I had taken very few. That was because we were having too good a time! And I'm OK with that. The pictures are all in my head. I will tell you that I loved Universal Studios and I am not a fan of theme parks AT ALL. The Harry Potter portion of the park is truly spectacular and was such a thrill for Sofia, who has read and adored every single HP book, that the rest of us couldn't help seeing it through her eyes and feeling some magic there.

We had barely recovered from the big California adventure when we hit the road again. When Ray and I realized that the family cabin that my Dad built, and my brother now owns, was within the eclipse path of totality we decided that was a great excuse to head to Idaho, last week, for a visit with brother Steve and SIL, Brenda, and a trip to the cabin. Favorite people, favorite place.






This is where I feel most in the heart of my childhood memories and the spirit of my parents. Steve and Brenda have made it their own, while preserving its heart and soul.

It has been a summer of heat and smoke, flowers and gardens and fresh vegetables, kids and their new dog, dinners on the deck, friends, family, frogs singing in the night, and shouting, joyful kid-sounds ringing through the neighborhood.

There have been magic moments: a young wizard receives her wand; four old folks sit at the edge of a mountain lake and watch the shadow of the moon move across the sun, suddenly extinguishing its light, and briefly, the stars come out and a shout of joy goes up from around the lake.


























Another summer almost done. Once kids go back to school I think I'll be ready to go back to work. I'm beginning to wonder where I'll start...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Very Fun Vacation, part 1

Los Angeles. Just those two words strike fear in my heart. As Ray says, it's a love/hate thing. Love the many amazing things to see and do. Love the weather. Hate the freeways, traffic, confusion. Hate the weather. I thought I had "done" Southern California, with no need to return. I sort of cherished that idea. "I've been there, had a great time, seen a lot, survived the experience and never have to do that again." But then my daughter announced that at the end of their trip to Ecuador to visit family, they were considering a several-day layover in Los Angeles. Their kids had never been to any of the attractions. Wouldn't that be fun? So we had to agree it would be, and Ray and I made our plans to meet them there.

Ray and I arrived two days ahead of the family, so we could do some of our favorite things first. We spent a day at the Getty Museum—in my opinion the very best reason to go to LA and risk life and limb on the freeway. Without a lot of explanation, let me just say it is a museum experience like nothing else, combining natural beauty, architectural genius and great art. The featured exhibits were in celebration of David Hockney's 80th birthday, and were perfection, but did not allow photography.















That evening we met Karen and Ted Rips for dinner and had a great visit! It was, in all, a wonderful day.



The next day we headed down to Olivera Street, where Los Angeles was born. We toured the oldest house in Los Angeles, browsed the Mexican wares in the shops and market and enjoyed an overpriced, but tasty lunch. When in Los Angeles one must go to Olivera Street. It never changes.










Then—a return to someplace very special.

Many years ago I read a story about a man, Simon Rodia, who, over many years, built fantastical structures and mosaics of found objects and broken crockery, in his humble garden in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the early '80s, we took our kids to Disneyland and I persuaded Ray to help me find the Watts Towers, as they had come to be known. We drove through a sketchy area of LA, guided by a paper map, with our two small children, and found it—one of the most magical things I had ever seen. I have thought about it for all these years, so on our recent trip we returned to see it again. It has not lost its magic. (For more information go to http://www.wattstowers.us/)























My heart was happy. My California to-do list complete. Tomorrow the family arrives and Phase 2 of our California adventure begins!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Summertime, little things




Aren't summer mornings the best? Before I'm even awake, I can hear the sprinklers' "sh-sh-sh-sh" and am aware of a little, fragrant breeze coming through the window screen and ruffling the bedroom curtains. Such a better way to wake up than to dim grey skies and rain. Awwwww

I'm having a lazy summer. Knitting, puttering, finishing projects and working on little things. My eye is nearly healed, but my vision isn't great. I'll need a new glasses prescription once the second eye surgery is done and healed and in the meantime it's hard to focus, especially for long periods of stitching. I'm practicing patience—never one of my stronger assets. Here's a bigger, little piece.



It's about 13"x15". Small pieces that are unframed run the risk of looking like placemats or hotpads, so I'm always looking for ways to give hem a little more presence. This one has a dowel with a wire hanger. The two littler chairs, below, have wire hangers.






I've had fun bending wire and concocting these hangers, but I'm still not sure I like them. What do you think? Hokey? Too rustic? Art is all an experiment...

Last week we went to California and met up with our grandchildren and their parents. I think my next post will be called "The Very Fun California Adventure and We Lived to Tell the Tale". I have photos to go through. Stay tuned...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Guiding Principles revisited

Today my Facebook "Memories" brought up a blog post I made four years ago and in rereading it, I found I still like the advice I gave myself back then. I had been struggling with this piece.



Actually it doesn't look that bad to me now, but back then the blue house in the foreground was just not working for me and I had overworked it to the point of having lost any sense of freshness and spontaneity. After all that and some anxious anticipation, I did what I knew had to be done.



I have not regretted that decision, and the real value was in defining for myself, my artistic values. They still work for me. So I am glad to share them once again, and again, reiterate that you may disagree, but perhaps in agreeing or disagreeing you will discover what your personal guides are.

So—the post from 2013....


Guiding Principles

I am cutting it off. The only logical solution, really.

Thanks for all the input and comments. Some of you got what I was after, some did not. The more I looked at it, the more I realized the basic flaw in the blue house part of the composition was that the blue house was just too dominant, too big and too much of a distraction from what were my favorite parts of the piece. Suggestions for adding things like vines and paint and layers of stuff were well-intentioned, but those things would not solve the underlying problem, and would probably only make it worse. I appreciate those of you who said to cut it off. I knew that was the best route to take and it was nice to hear support for that. The suggestion to put it aside and deal with it later was sound. I had already done that. This was the "later."

Less is more. Really it is. I keep forgetting, I guess. So I am making myself a list of rules—no, I won't call them rules. They are "guiding principles." You can ignore them in your own work, or argue with them if you like, but I think defining my own principles is a good way to remember what I already really knew.

1. Composition is the first and most important element. Once you are well into a piece it is hard to change the composition. Spend the time at the beginning to work it out and save yourself some grief later. Composition, composition, composition.

2. Color is important, value is even more important. Exciting art has deep darks and sparkling lights. Too often we are bogged down in the middle tones and that is the way to boring work.

3. Be true to your materials. Fabric art should look like fabric. Paint should look like paint. Paper should look like paper, etc. etc. Fabric cannot do all that paint can do. Paint cannot do what fabric does. Let the materials speak and listen.

4. Doing more is usually not the answer. Less is more. Simple is good. No amount of paint, glitz, buttons, beads, embroidery will fix a bad design. Embellishment should be part of a plan, not a band-aid.

5. Know your strengths and work with them. Just because other people love to make grand, immense work, doesn't mean I have to. Smaller and more focused is my place of greater strength. Large is not my best way of working.

6. Be authentic. Let your own style evolve by paying attention to what works best for you, what feels most honest and the feedback you get from trusted colleagues. Being inspired by the work of others helps you define yourself, but copying others just masks your own voice. Know the difference.

7. Filter what you hear from others. Advice is nice, but consider the source. Praise is lovely, but realize that most of your friends tell you what you want to hear. Questions are often more illuminating than answers.

8. Don't let the work become too precious. Always be willing to throw something away that isn't working. Or cut it up. Or give to the cat to sleep on. Some things are just practice. Not everything needs to see the light of day. But before you do any of these things analyze it and learn from it.

9. Base your analysis in sound practice. Go back to the elements and principles of design and ignore the theories of the proponents of "winging it."

10. Don't be lazy. "Good enough" is lazy if you can work a little harder and actually make it better. Do it right.

This is a start. I'm sure I will remember or discover others. Maybe I need to print them and post them in my studio. Do you have rules or guiding principles you try to incorporate into your work? I'd love to hear about them.

Posted by Terry Grant at 3:23 PM, July 14, 2013



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 01, 2017

What's in, what's out

I am getting 2 quilts ready to submit, for consideration, to our next High Fiber Diet show, and 2 more for the Beaverton Art Mix show, and have been juried in and out of 3 more shows in the past couple of weeks. It's a nerve-racking season! Getting in is great, not getting in is kind of lousy and demoralizing despite the reasons and the rational knowledge of the odds.

First the good news. "Luna Moth" will be in the Dinner@8 show called Personal Iconography which will debut at International Quilt Festival in Houston in November. I'm very happy. I chose an image that could show off the kinds of elements that have become my own personal marks and stamp—my overdyed shirt fabrics, my doodle stitching, dark outlines and painted elements.






Not making the cut were my entry for Threads of Resistance, called "Stronger Together", which was my comment on immigration and my sincere belief that our country's diversity and foundation in immigration is what makes us strong and open and tolerant as a culture and as individuals. Honestly, I am not satisfied with the faces, and there were hundreds of entries for a limited number of slots, so I can't be too upset. I'm glad I made it and wish I were happier with it.







And my entry for Oregon SAQA's Bridge exhibit, called "Build that Bridge". Okay, I knew from the outset that this was really a long shot! While the call allowed for 3-dimensional work, I was pretty sure this would be seen more as a doll than a figurative sculpture. Then, too, I was really pushing the Bridge theme. Love is a bridge? Maybe. So, why did I go this route? Because this was what I was wanting to make at the time. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. No regrets. Still, I would have been really happy to have her as part of that show!






So, one out of three isn't bad, and Luna Moth is the one I would have chosen if I thought only one of them would make it.

Now back to the next round of entries...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hot pad tutorial

Here is hot pad #7. This one is definitely approaching "really good" in my opinion. It hits most of my marks—invisible seams, front and back and nearly jogless stripes. The best method for smoothing the jogs yet, but I'm beginning to believe there is no way of getting them perfect, especially narrow stripes.
Front




Back:




There was interest in my recipe for the "seemingly seamless diagonal-knit" hot pad, so here goes....

First, credit where credit is due. This is the pattern I started with. It makes a perfectly good diagonal hot pad, with the clever fold. You could be happy stopping right here, but I wanted to see if it was possible to eliminate the seams that run diagonally across the front and back. I found the answers on the internet, especially on YouTube. I will post the relevant links at the bottom. So kudos and thanks to all the smart people who figured this stuff out and then generously shared it with the world!

The basic pattern has you knit a tube that is open at both ends. Later you sew each end closed. I could eliminate the first seam by casting on using Judy's Magic Cast-on (link below). I used 2 size 7 circular needle pairs. They need to be at least 24" and can be longer.

I am using worsted weight cotton yarn. Some of the brand names are Sugar and Cream, Peaches and Cream and Premier Home.




Cast-on 50 stitches on each needle—100 stitches total. This cast-on gives you a row of knitting that can be knit into on both edges, so after casting on, you knit around the cast-on row, continuing in the round, to knit a flattened tube that is closed at the bottom. To do this, you need to know how to knit in the round using 2 circular needles (link below)




Place a marker where the rows begin and another at halfway around. Continue knitting in the round, making sure to keep the stitches tight at those two spots where you switch needles. Add stripes if you wish, starting the new color at the marker that begins a new row. (There is a link below with a technique for smoothing out the jog at the beginning of a new stripe.) before long your knitting should resemble a small canoe! You can continue to knit with both sets of circular needles, or switch to just one set once it is a couple inches high. I can knit faster using just one set.




As it gets bigger you can push the sides down and begin to see how it will go from straight across knitting, to diagonal.




Knit until the sides are half the measurement across the bottom edge. Mine was 11" wide, so I knit until the sides were 5 1/2" high. Your measurements may vary.




Cut your working yarn, leaving a good tail. Secure the end by weaving it into the inside. Do not bind off.

Starting at the row marker, slide 25 stitches onto your second circular needle, then slide those stitches down the cable and slip the marker and 25 stitches on the other side of the cable onto the same circular needle. You have now redistributed half of the stitches onto each of the two sets of needles, with the markers in the center of each set of stitches. This is hard to explain, but hopefully the photo below will help.




Now you are ready for the second invisible seam!

Cut a piece of yarn at least 5 times the width of the opening and thread it onto a tapestry needle. Tie the end to the bit of yarn right between the needle at one end of the opening.




Then use Kitchener stitch (link below) to close the opening.




Secure the end and bury the tail between the two layers. You may need to use a crochet hook to tighten and even up the Kitchener stitches before you secure the yarn (I did). Steam press, shaping the square and adjusting and straightening the stripes. Done!

If you've never done some or all of these techniques, be patient. I found them pretty confusing, needing multiple attempts and rewatching of the videos. That's why I made hot pads—they are quick, cheap and small mistakes and glitches don't matter. My seventh HP is the only really "good" one, but all are usable and won't go to waste! Have fun with color and design while you hone your skills.

Helpful links:
Original HP pattern

Judy's Magic Cast-on

Knitting in the round with 2 circulars

Jogless stripes

Kitchener stitch

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, June 23, 2017

Hot pad obsession

I have been making hot pads. Obsessively. I know, that's pretty crazy. But hear me out. It isn't that I want or need a large number of them, but they are nice to have, right? No, it's really about figuring something out. And this is an intriguing little puzzle.

It all started when our knitting group went away for a weekend at Hood Canal—an incredibly beautiful place in Washington state. We relaxed. We ate, we drank wine, we laughed, we knitted. Except for Joyce—she crocheted cleverly constructed hot pads that were a nice thick double layer. Like this. We loved them, but why, some of us wondered, couldn't they be knitted, instead of crocheted? I like knitting, and I like the way knitting looks—better than crochet.

You can find everything by Googling, and, sure enough, someone had interpreted the clever hot pad into knitting instructions, so I made one.



The way this was done was to knit a tube, in the round, cast-off and then sew each end together after making the fold that gives it its diagonal stitch pattern. So it has, as you can see, a diagonal seam through the center and another seam on the other side. It was OK, but wouldn't it be nice if you could make those seams disappear? As fate would have it, my friend, Kristin LaFlamme was knitting at our STASH meeting and showed how she had cast-on a sock in a way that created a smooth, seamless toe, using something called a Turkish cast-on. I tried it on my next hot pad and voila!—no visible seam on the top side!



But there was still a seam on the back side.



Back to Google and a YouTube video demonstrating the Kitchener stitch for invisibly joining two knitted edges. It is a complicated piece of work and my first attempt at Kitchener stitch was not great. Meanwhile I had run across Judy's Magic Cast-on, which was even better for my project than the Turkish cast-on.

Magic cast-on front:



Messy Kitchener stitch back:




Now I had a basic recipe and needed to perfect my technique.

A coordinating pair, front:



Same pair, back. That Kitchener stitch was proving to be my nemesis, but getting better with each one:



Now while I was concentrating on getting those seams smooth and invisible, don't think I didn't notice the ugly jogs in the stripes where they start and end. There are many YouTube videos that address how to create "jogless stripes" and each had a different approach. I tried many with limited success. I'm still working on that. The latest one looks promising.



So, I am making one hot pad after another,each one just a little better than the last. Do you see, it's not about hot pads? It's about mastery. This is how I learn. And after that first, boring red and beige hot pad, I decided it would be more fun if I had more colors to play with, so I went out and bought a bunch of balls of cotton yarn. It's cheap, comes in great colors and won't melt if you put a really hot pot on it. Because when all is said and done and I finally make a really good one, I will have hot pads for me and some friends and relations to use until they are faded and ragged and scorched. Then maybe I'll make some more. Maybe.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad