Friday, December 16, 2011

Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season

This is a festive and joyous time of year for many.

My wish for you this holiday season, as always, is peace, health, and happiness.

My blog will return after the holidays and I look forward to another year of sharing.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Favorite Quote

I have a small post-it note attached to the computer screen that rests on my desk. It has a quote that I read every day as I work at my computer.  I thought I would share it with all of you.

Your work is to discover your work
and then
with all your heart
to give yourself to it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

So you think your life is complicated?

It is holiday time and for many of us, the holidays mean we have more than our usual list of things to accomplish. When you begin to experience a slight feeling of overwhelm, it always helps to develop some perspective.

In aikido, we have a simple ki exercise that we do to develop our awareness of balance. It is called, ude furi undo. It is a simple turn with arms extended so you are facing 180 degrees from where you started. We often do a series of turns back and forth as part of our warm-up exercises at the start of a class. To complicate matters, the instructor can call for one turn at a time or two or three turns. The more turns, the more the challenge to maintain balance. My friend, Tom Crum, often uses this exercise in workshops. People find the initial exercise of one turn a bit challenging. Once we ask them to do two, three, four turns, and then return to one turn, they find one turn easy. Tom's usually then offers a metaphor for life. If you think your life is complicated, take on something bigger like world hunger, your issues will seem much smaller.

In a similar vein, if you are experiencing the feeling of overwhelm with the holiday, I thought you would enjoy a recent post by a friend of mine,  Dena Crain. She is a wonderful art quilter and instructor who happens to live in Kenya. In the post, Dena describes a recent day in her life. And, she also offers a similar metaphor to Tom's in her description. Enjoy!

PS. Dena has a great design class, Goodbye to the Grid, starting in late January on Quilt University. I have taken it twice and am planning to take it again. She is a wonderfully challenging teacher who really makes you stretch!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bohin Iron Cleaner

I do a good deal of fusing in my art works. Unfortunately, this often means that residue accumulates on my irons no matter how hard I try to protect the iron from the fusing. I strongly suspect that I am not alone in this regard.
A few weeks ago, I read about the Bohin Iron Cleaner in a blog. The person was raving about the results.  I already was impressed with the Bohin company and had written about their needles and marking pencils inn a post last January. So, I immediately found the Iron Cleaner online and ordered some.
Coincidentally, the iron I was currently using was actually getting so decrepit that I had to resort to my back-up older iron, which while not totally clean, was in better shape, while I waited for my iron cleaner to arrive.
I am happy to report that it did arrive on Friday and I immediately put it to the test. It works! I now own two functioning irons.

The product works extremely well. One iron came completely clean and the other is almost perfect. I suspect if I tried another application, I could get it spotless. My biggest critique of the product is that in applying it to the iron, you consume quite a bit of the stick. Having cleaned two quite dirty irons, I used over one third of the stick - it melts on the iron surface when you rub it on the iron and you then wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth/towel. Fortunately, it is not too expensive and I am hopeful that if I maintain my irons by cleaning them more regularly, it will take less of a stick to accomplish the task.
If you are interested, here is one source that I found online for the iron cleaner.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Realism or not.

My desire to create art quilts has lead me into a deeper study and understanding of the world of design and art appreciation.

In the few years that I have been drawn to this genre, I have learned that art quilters come from many diverse backgrounds. Some come from an extensive background with in traditional quilting. Others come from other art mediums and wish to include fiber and the quilt format in their works. In either case, the artists may or may not have studied design formally in an academic or non-academic setting.

Quilt artists interested in showing their works in juried shows now enter their works in both quilt shows and more general art shows. As they do this, their works are open to critique and evaluation by an increasingly sophisticated set of judges and the judging criteria includes, quite rightly so, not just technique but composition. So, no matter your background, if you wish to create art quilts at a juried show level, an understanding of design and trends in the art world becomes essential.

Robert Glenn, in his current Twice-Weekly Letter, acknowledges and discusses the current preference for photo-realism that is reflected in the judging of many shows. The term 'extreme rendering' is used to describe art quilts that are amazingly detailed and realistic in their design.  While I am somewhat new to Robert's subscription base, I gather that his letter introduces a topic and there is an ensuing online discussion that expands on the topic. If you are interested in the latest trends in art quilting or looking for perspective on this latest trend in art quilt judging, you might want to check out Robert's letter on this topic by subscribing to his letters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Joy in Service

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.

Rabindranath Tagore

Lyric Kinard asked everyone join her in making this world a better place by doing one good thing, one act of service, every day in December. You can read more about it on her blog. It is a great idea and, I bet if everyone focuses on this theme for a month, it will become a habit for all of 2012. Wouldn't that be great!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Appreciating Filters

Tom Crum used to have a great saying in his workshops, When a pickpocket meets a saint, he sees only his pockets. What a great reminder that what we see in any situation is greatly influenced by our filters - all of our thoughts, values, heritage, etc.

Here is fun example:

While I was in New York City a few weeks ago, I passed by a quiet oasis beside a church. There were some brightly colored flowers blooming, even though it was mid-November, so they really stood out. I love to the detail in flowers so I snapped a few photos. I saw only the colors and intricacies of the flowers and leaves.

This morning I was perusing my many photos as I considered a post for today. One of those photos jumped out at me - not for its botanical charactistics but because it formed a perfect heart.

Amazing to me now that I never saw the heart before. Glad that I see it now. :)

Have a great day and be aware of those filters!