Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Two Windows and a Box of Happiness

(Above:  The Box of Happiness.  Commissioned artwork.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I have a wonderful New York City collector who recently commissioned me to create a unique work of art, a piece to open when feeling depressed about life or simply sad.  I selected one of the boxes made this past spring while an artist in residence at the Osage Arts Community. It featured a vintage map of western Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, the city from which my client originally comes. 

By creating seventeen pieces of mat board on which "happiness" quotations were written, the work was transformed into The Box of Happiness.  Both sides of the mat boards were decorated and have a quotation. The research was the best part of this project.  I read hundreds and hundreds of quotations.  Some were ancient, some quite new.  Some were said by renown authors, some by celebrity actors or self-help gurus or inventors or corporate executives or religious leaders. Some were translations from other cultures or said by comedians.  Some made me cry and others made me laugh.  It was a thought-provoking way to spend a day. Narrowing down the selection was hard.  Finally, I had a list but it was still too long.  Randomly, I wrote thirty-four onto the pieces of mat board but included the list I compiled in a card to my client. I hope the box brings him some relief from the depression he suffers.

I understand depression in a visceral way. Though never officially diagnosed, it wouldn't be surprising if I had been or one day might be.  Fighting these mental demons is an on-going process.  I'm sure I'll consult my list of happiness quotes in the future.  It is further below.

  (Above:  Window CLXIV. Inventory # 4566. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

I also finished two more Window Series pieces.  They have already been taken to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville.  My husband Steve and I drove there on Saturday afternoon to deliver sixteen pieces.  We took the long way back home, driving through the mountains and by Looking Glass waterfall.  It was beautiful.  Nature is one of the sure ways for me to put any depression into perspective.

 (Above:  Window CLXV. Inventory # 4567. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

Now ... here's the list of carefully selected "happiness quotes" sent to my special client!
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it's all that matters.”
― Audrey Hepburn

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
― Charles M. Schulz

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
― George Burns

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”
― Mark Twain

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.”
― Sylvia Plath

“I've got nothing to do today but smile.”
― Simon and Garfunkel

“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”
― Ayn Rand

“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
― Mark Twain

“And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.”
― Edward Lear from The Owl and the Pussycat

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
― Rita Mae Brown

“Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.”
― Robert Frost

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
― William Shakespeare 

“Happiness is an accident of nature, a beautiful and flawless aberration.”
― Pat Conroy

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Laughter is poison to fear.”
― George R.R. Martin from A Game of Thrones

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period.”
― Drew Barrymore

I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.”
― Groucho Marx

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
― John Keats

“If only we'd stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”
― Edith Wharton

“My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.”
― Ayn Rand

“Success is getting what you want..
Happiness is wanting what you get.”
― Dale Carnegie

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Just because you are happy it does not mean that the day is perfect but that you have looked beyond its imperfections”
― Bob Marley

“Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that's the way to live.”
― Jack Kerouac

“We're all golden sunflowers inside.”
― Allen Ginsberg

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.”
― Andy Rooney

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
― Michael J. Fox

“Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.”
― Thomas Mann

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Your success and happiness lie in you.”
― Helen Keller

“Happiness and confidence are the prettiest things you can wear”
― Taylor Swift

“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”
― Charles Dickens

“You have to be willing to get happy about nothing.”
― Andy Warhol

“Do the best you can, and don't take life too serious.”
― Will Rogers

“Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”
― Walt Whitman

“Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness.”
― Oscar Wilde

“To be happy--one must find one's bliss”
― Gloria Vanderbilt

“I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

“How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness”
― Toni Morrison

“Those who wish to sing always find a song.”
― Swedish proverb

“Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is at their heels.”
― Bertolt Brecht

“We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want - or near enough.”
― Roald Dahl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“Happiness was waiting to be chosen.”
― Pearl S. Buck

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Good Problem to Have

(Above: In Box CCCXL.  Layers of fused polyester stretch velvet on recycled black industrial felt with self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and melting techniques.  Unframed:17" x 13". Framed: 22" x 18", $325.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Just after receiving successful jurying results from next November's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, my work experiences a surge in sales at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville and receives an invitation to a fiber show called Deep Stitch at 567 Center for Renewal in Macon, Georgia.  I'm short on artwork! 

(Above: In Box CCCXXXIX. Unframed:17" x 13". Framed: 22" x 18", $325.)

Last week I delivered twelve pieces to the show in Macon, Georgia.  This coming weekend, I'll be delivering work to Asheville ... including more than half of these new "In Box Series" pieces. I'll be in my studio soon making even more.  Thank goodness I love what I do!

(Above: In Box CCCXXXVII. Unframed:17" x 13". Framed: 22" x 18", $325.)

The first four pieces are "medium sized".  They fit perfectly into a standard 16" x 20" frame even though, of course, my husband custom builds all my frames.  Nevertheless, 16" x 20" is a good size.  Glass comes in this dimension, and a standard 32" x 40" mat board provides four backing boards without any waste. 

(Above: In Box CCCXXXVIII. Unframed:17" x 13". Framed: 22" x 18", $325.)

The eight pieces below are my "small size".  In these photos, the two sizes might seem similar but one is definitely smaller than the other.  Naturally, the smaller ones are less expensive. They sell twice as quickly as the larger ones.  Thus, I always make more of them ... and I'll need even more before going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  Two are in Georgia; four go to the Grovewood ... leaving me only two.  I've got to get busy, busy, busy! Studio, here I come!

(Above: In Box CCCXLI.  Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXLII. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXLIII. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXLIV. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXLV. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In BOX CCCXLVI. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXXXV. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

(Above: In Box CCCXXXVI. Unframed:  14" x 10. Framed:  19 1/4" x 15 1/4", $235.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New Work and a Trip to the Rockies

(Above:  Selfie at the Visitor's Center in Rocky Mountain National Park. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I have sure been traveling a lot this year, and July was no exception! When offered a contract to teach a two-day workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters, I made arrangements to drive to Colorado instead of flying there.  This allowed Steve to go along.  He obviously got more time to explore the area than did I, but he also had to drive the entire way and back.  (I got to stitch on wooden thread spool Christmas ornaments while looking out the window!)
 (Above:  Relic CCXVII. Inventory # 4549. Framed: 12 1/2" x 11". $100 plus tax and shipping.)

I always finish and frame my demonstration pieces started during a workshop. After all, I'm encouraging participants to MAKE ART, not just another "sample" or a UFO (unfinished object).  So, I do the same.  This is one of the pieces I made in Colorado.  The other got behind glass before I thought about snapping a photo. Further below are more images from our trip ... but first ...

 (Above:  Window CLX. Inventory # 4550. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

... I've just finished four more "Window Series" pieces.  I started them while teaching in Columbus, Ohio and finished one while in Colorado.  Now, all four are framed.  I'm also working on lots of other new work because the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in November will be here before I know it.

  (Above:  Window CLXI. Inventory # 4550. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

  (Above:  Window CLXII. Inventory # 4550. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

  (Above:  Window CLXIII. Inventory # 4550. Framed:  19" x 17". $265 plus tax and shipping.)

 (Above:  Steve riding a camel at the Kit Carson County Carousel.)

On the way to Colorado, we overnighted in Burlington and got there in time for the last carousel ride.  This is a fully operational, three-row, stationary carousel housed in a 12-sided frame building and the only antique carousel in the USA still having original paint on both scenery panels and the animals. It dates to 1905. Steve rode a large camel.  I road a very pretty goat that looked much more like alpine steinbock. We had a blast!  The museum was outstanding too.

I took dozens of photos of the carousel ... but ...

... didn't actually take that many while in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I think I was just to overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the place.  Plus ... it was COLD!  At one point, slushy snow fell and accumulated on the window shield wiper!

There were banks of plowed snow at the visitor's center too!  We saw elk and a marmot.

Yet, it was the tundra foliage that intrigued me most.  I remember studying alpine flora and fauna while in Salzburg, Austria during the summer of 1976, but I really didn't get the sense of a severe, high elevation terrain until walking across the provided, paved trail at over 12,000 feet.  The ground was a patchwork of tiny plants.  It was lovely!

Steve and I also enjoyed a few microbreweries while in the Fort Collins area.  Horse and Dragon was our favorite!  Now ... back to work!  I've got so many things I'm just dying to make!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Prep Work

(Above:  Yard and yards and yard of polyester stretch velvet from Spandex World ... already prepped with yards of Pellon's 805 Wonder Under ironed to the reverse.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I returned to Columbia after a glorious western adventure to Great Basin, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks.  We returned to a disaster area.  Why?  Well, before we left, a storm compromised part of our back roof, leaking in gallons of rain water, and taking down the sheet rock ceiling of our guest bathroom.  While we were gone, another summer storm ripped through downtown Columbia and hit our neighborhood particularly hard.  Our neighbor's half-dead, gigantic pecan tree toppled onto our parking lot.  It took down the electrical wires, cable/Internet wires, the security lamp, and the fence.  We've been dealing with tree removal services, Dominion Energy, AT&T, contractors, and insurance agents since we got back in town.  It's been crazy ... especially since my personal "to do" list included prepping material for an upcoming workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters Guild!

(Above:  My ironing board ... in the process of ironing Wonder Under onto my newly purchased stash of polyester stretch velvet.)

Steve and I are driving to Colorado.  We leave at dawn on Wednesday.  Having taught two workshops in Wisconsin and another in Columbus, Ohio, I really needed to replenish my workshop supplies.  I bring EVERYTHING needed for my HOT workshop ... including a vast collection of polyester velvet already backed with Pellon's 805 Wonder Under, a heat activated adhesive.  I stock up on this product every time there's a great coupon at Joann Fabrics.  I was ready.  I ironed over 90 yard of Wonder Under onto the newly purchased stash!

 (Above:  Wonder Under ... painted with a thin wash of acrylic paint, stapled to the table in our framing garage.)

Another sixteen yard of Wonder Under was painted with thin washes of acrylic.  This is also needed for my HOT workshops, but that's not all!

 (Above:  A stack of 8" x 10" mats into which I've cut 4 1/4" x 6 1/4" openings.)

I promise that every participant in a two-day workshop will complete at least two finished and matted projects.  In order to fulfill this promise, I need an assortment of pre-cut mats.  So, I've been cutting mats! I think I'm ready to pack the cargo van on Tuesday afternoon!  I know I'm ready to see the Rocky Mountains!

 (Above:  Even on the Ski Slopes My Lipstick was Perfect, Wall of Ancestors. Anonymous, vintage photo with a collage of letters clipped from assorted ephemera.  Framed: 16" x 14".)

Yet with all these things happening, I still find a few minutes to alter another, anonymous photo.  I can't help myself.  I don't actually have another show scheduled for this installation but I can't stop seeing narratives in these neglected images.

 (Above:  I Lived in the Shadow of His First Wife, Wall of Ancestors. Anonymous, hand-colored photo in antique frame with convex glass.  16" x 12".)

Here's another piece in the same series ... and, of course ...

(Above:  Integration Wasn't Easy, Wall of Ancestors.  Altered, anonymous photo in antique frame.  13" x 15".)

... how could I resist this striking image?  It just had to be made!

Monday, July 01, 2019

Western Adventure 2019

(Above:  Steve and me at the "stage two" of America Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Steve and I love to travel to national parks and until this trip had been to four of the five in Utah.  In order to get to the fifth, Capitol Reefs, we cashed in a two-for-one airline ticket to Las Vegas and rented a car.  The trip was carefully planned to coordinate with American Ninja Warrior's National Finals.  Our first night found us watching most of "stage two".  It was SO EXCITING.

 (Above:  Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.)

We didn't go directly into Utah but spent the next two nights in a vintage 1952 trailer, a unique listing on AirBnB in Baker, Nevada.  We really loved the early morning, hour-and-a-half ranger led tour through Lehman Caves.  The formations, textures, and dizzying heights of millennium old creations is always so inspiring!

We drove as far as the park's road would take us up Wheeler's Peak.  At over 10,000 feet, there was so much snow that the furthest parking lot could only be reached on foot.  We could only hike on the pavement because the trail markings were all covered in snow!

We were able to take a nice, short loop at a lower elevation to see the cave's natural entrance.  It is covered in this unusual metal structure, a bat entry way!  We did see one, upside down, slumbering bat inside the cave!

 Steve had a great time with the propane grill ...

 ... and we were stunned by the colorful sunset.

 Driving from place to place was almost as beautiful as hiking in nature ...

 ... and even stopping for Sinclair gas was fun!

 On our first day at Capitol Reef National par, we took the scenic drive down miles of unpaved road to an area where inscriptions from long gone days appear.  (There are now hidden cameras to prevent visitors from continuing this once popular activity.) Elsewhere in the park are ancient petroglyphs but my photos didn't turn out with enough contrast to post.

 At the end of the road, trails begin, including one through a dry creek bed that leads to ...

 ... an area known as "The Tanks".  Pools of melted snow and spring rains are captured in the rock formations.

 Tadpoles were large enough that their hind legs were emerging.

Early on the second morning, we hiked up the most popular trail to Hickman Bridge.  Later in the day, this trail has dozens of hikers but we were quite alone under the natural bridge, walking as if the only people to see ...

 ... lizards on rocks ...

 ... early summer's blossoms ...

 ... and blooming cacti.  If we'd had known that hitchhiking was commonplace, we would have done the entire Frying Pan Trail.  But, the trek was three-miles in one direction.  We made it to the highest peak at the halfway point before turning back to the parking lot with our rental car.  Had we opted to stick our thumbs out for a passing vehicle, we would have done the distance and rode back to the car.

We visited the Mormon orchard's and school house before going to the Gifford House Museum and gift shop.

 Late in the afternoon, we tackled the three-and-a-half mile loop called "Chimney Rock".  It was a perfect ending to our time at Capitol Reefs.  We had views back to the lush area in the valley and to distant horizons.

 As the sun set, we had long shadows on the ground. We passed only one solitary hiker and felt like we were truly alone with nature. It was a glorious day!

 The next day, we drove into Ely and went to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  We took an hour-and-a-half ride on a historic, coal powered train ...

 ... up past the backside of the town and out into the country ...

 ... into a now abandoned copper mine.  Cinders flew from the engine.  The clanging bells sounded of yesteryear.  People on the nearby highways waved and took photos.  It was a blast!

Finally, we went to Zion National Park.  We'd been here before when the Narrows wasn't as deep or running quite as fast.  This time, we hiked to the lower Emerald Pools.  The path to the Middle and Upper pools was closed due to a landslide, but what we saw was amazing!

 On our last day, we ventured into St. George.  To be perfectly honest, I forgot that Things That Matter, an invitational art quilt show, was still on view.  The museum had already sent a check to cover the shipping expenses.  So, I sort of thought the exhibition had ended.  I hadn't looked at my own website or blog where the information was plain to see.  The show was still on view!  It was such a treat to see my piece, Nike's Advice: Just Do It!, about recycling still on the museum's walls!

Our last stop was back in Las Vegas where we visited the Neon Museum.  It was a colorful, outdoor display of vintage advertising lights.  Okay ... I admit it ... "vintage" generally doesn't mean the 1980s to me but I guess that illuminated signs with actual light bulbs qualify as "old"!  We had a great time and can't wait to return "out west" ... which is actually happening soon!  We are headed to Colorado at dawn on Wednesday.  I'm scheduled to teach my HOT workshop for the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters Guild next weekend.  Steve is driving our cargo van there and back.  We are extending the trip in order to enjoy nature and the Rocky Mountains.  Life is an adventure!  We we come!