Monday, April 20, 2015

Goal setting

To some people, and to me at another time, my day would look unproductive. Sure, I cooked lunches for a week, made dinner for two nights, groomed three dogs, went to Pilates class, wrote a new indoor cycling class and did some SAQA business. But I spent hours poking about, seemingly accomplishing nothing. The dithering and wandering had a goal and by the end of the day I found what I was seeking.

I now have a two-pronged approach to my work for the next year. Two series have emerged - Uncovered and Rolling - each with defined parameters with respect to technique and subject matter. And I am committed to using those techniques in anything I produce for shows in the next twelve months. I know that I work better with fewer degrees of freedom but haven't been willing to set those limits until now. I want to explore Uncovered in a couple of small 
pieces and then make it the focus of a 12" x 12" piece I'd like to submit to the SAQA auction. The Rolling series is pure fun for me - lots of piecing and an opportunity to cover problems with paint - with a hidden agenda which appeals to me intellectually.

I often have to remind my indoor cycling students to breathe when the going gets hard. I feel like I can breathe now.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy, happy

Last week at our SAQA retreat I planned for my portion of the Show and Tell session by writing a brief description of what interests me, and on the flip side, what definitely does not interest me. I then read the major points aloud before I showed four pieces of my work.

I took that approach for a couple of reasons. I wanted a good way to introduce myself to people who I had not encountered before. But I also wanted to remind myself of the direction I am going. When surrounded by talented people it is easy to be swayed and to go off on a tangent: "Maybe if I do that I'll be better than I am." The opposite almost always turns out to be the case. By reiterating my interests I hoped to inoculate myself against those feelings.

I am delighted that it seems to have worked. I did not come home with any itch to try a new technique or use different colours or revamp my approach to generating ideas. I have an idea for the all-Canadian SAQA show which is entirely consistent with everything that I said both works and doesn't work for me. I have sampled and found that I am getting the exact effect I want. I need to purchase a couple of batiks and have found the perfect colours online. Even browsing the fabric options didn't make me waver.

Here's a couple of photos of the first sample. Kona cotton stitched to felt (at two different spacings to test which I like best), shrunk, sandwiched with batik by stitching around slightly oversized template on freezer paper, top layer removed.

I love the effect. The photo doesn't show it but in real life the coloured letters are clearly behind the surface and, in fact, can not be seen when viewed from an angle.

200th post draw: Only one person directly commented on the blog after my 200th post. Four others sent me notes directly. I put all five names in a hat this morning and drew out Judith's. Congratulations, Judith. I'll be in touch about choosing yarn and a pattern for your gift.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I made a very odd piece for FAB's Provocative show which I called Trapped: Paradise or Prison. It is about my experience of being an immigrant to Nova Scotia. (I don't have a good photograph but will try to get one now that I understand more about the issues as a result of a workshop at our recent SAQA retreat.) When SAQA recently announced an all-Canada show called My Corner of the World - Canada, I immediately thought of that piece. Unfortunately I can't enter it because it is three dimensional - I constructed a lobster trap over the surface.

I know that I want to explore the same emotions and thoughts and want the message to be a little less vague. So I have been playing with the concept of 'come from away' and today I found words that will work in the layout I have planned. They include clannish, welcoming, insular and warm. I like the general concept. Now I just have to figure out a way to make it work visually.

I have an idea for a second piece which is quite different. It strays from my tendency to use straight lines and little layering. I will have to keep sketching and thinking about that one for awhile.

Photo: K. Madeloso

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Making a new normal

After reading my post yesterday a friend sent me a quote.

The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination. 

John Schaar

I haven't talked with her for some time so I found that very spooky. I definitely feel these days like I am actively creating my future, not just waiting for it to happen. I think I have always done that to a certain extent but recently it has seemed more deliberate on my part. 

My yoga experiment is definitely a part of the process. I am noticing desirable changes after the first month of three classes per week. Imbalances in my body are disappearing, I am stronger and, best of all, I can sleep. More than that I have to sleep. I can't remember being unable to keep my eyes open since I was three years old. But last night it happened. I couldn't stay awake and had to go to bed at 8:30. I fell asleep promptly and drifted off quickly each time I was awakened.

There are other ways in which I am trying to create my future. I hope to document them here soon. In the meantime, here's some eye candy. At the SAQA retreat I was introduced to the work of Mr. Finch. He uses found and recycled materials to create animals, insects, plants and fungi.

Monday, April 13, 2015


This is my 200th post and there's lots to celebrate. Spring seems to have finally arrived, the SAQA retreat I helped organize and at which I had to do a lot of speaking is over and was well-received, both of my pieces for the our regional SAQA show are done (save for the photography) and my brain is buzzing with lots of new ideas so there will be no down time before I get to work again. Best of all, I was away for the weekend for the first time since my surgery and I gave it almost no thought at all. I am basically back to my normal. That bodes well for the trips I have planned for this summer.

To mark all of the good stuff, I want to offer one of the few loyal readers with a special gift. Anyone who leaves a comment on the blog between April 13 - April 18, 2015 will be eligible to receive a handknit scarf or shawlette. You will get some input into both yarn and pattern. If you don't wear scarves you must know someone who does. I will make a draw from the names of commenters on April 19 (the real Patriots Day for those of you from the Northeast US).

Edited to add: Draw for knitted gift is closed. Judith was the lucky winner.

Monday, April 6, 2015


I can't believe how much time and thought I put into selecting just the right clothes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

From the files

The DNA panel is complete. Despite all of my math and measuring the image came out about an inch shorter than it should have. I didn't notice until I was past the point where I could have made a saving change. It bugs me today; I won't see it tomorrow.

Doing a glue test to determine the best way to adhere the paper dolls. That's the last experimentation. Then I just have to mount and adhere the text.

Here are some things I stashed to share.

Ellen Jewett creates amazing sculptures.

Isobel Currie is a 3D embroiderer. Check out her website. This is my favourite.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Building blocks

Yesterday's lists are in the trash. Photo 51 is assembled, all of the DNA pieces have been constructed and the testing has been done on the dolls.

Another day and it will be complete except for the work that needs to be done after it is mounted on stretcher bars.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lists on my desk

I am a list maker. I don't think I could ever manage the variety of tasks I need to do every day without my lists.

Here's a taste of the lists on my desk today.


Shredded Wheat
sesame seeds
poblano peppers
cottage cheese
cheap cheddar

SAQA retreat admin:

show and tell assignments
menu confirmation
list of general/emergency stuff we might need

SAQA retreat talks:

review website
slides for Google talk - check on history
talking points for pm
talking points for Sunday

Indoor cycling:

figure out what Leslie will teach on 11th
plan for next week
lecture for next week

Ivory Tower:

Photo 51
Jetset the organza
colour the paper dolls - his feet?
dress the dolls
tube for DNA



I routinely finish lists and am happy to savour the accomplishment and trash the list. Here's one of my favourite recent achievements. It has gone to its new home with my mother who has named it Hieronymus. This is a fantastic pattern. I recommend it to anyone with basic crochet skills. It would make a great baby gift with the eyes swapped out for felt.