Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pull Up a Seat at The Ragged Cloth Cafe

(republished from BlogHer)

There is one sad thing about working in my studio at home: the isolation. While the proximity means my work is always available, too often I am pulled away by other demands (hello internet!). While the quiet encourages introspection, too often I end up having conversations with myself. I miss the concentration of knowing I have THIS time and THIS time only. I miss the community of spirit that broadens my perspectives. Often I yearn for a spot where I can discuss the meat of hand work: design, repetition, color, scale, form. Where I can gain another's perspective. Where I can think deep thoughts and share them with similarly obsessed folk.

I have found such a place online at The Ragged Cloth Cafe.

The Ragged Cloth Café is a place for serious artists (who are also serious talkers) to verbally circle ideas about their own work, the visual arts, and the theories, histories, definitions and philosophies of arts while relating these to the textile arts. The group was begun by textile artists and most, but by no means all, of us continue to have textile art as our base of reference. We are prone to go deep into any given topic, likely to go on for hours circling an idea, bringing in tangent ideas, never entirely resolving any issue, but seldom descending into boring repetition. We are practicing artists by day; thinking artists by night; verbal artists whenever we see the chance.

The café invites civil discourse, discussions which probe and prod, and which aAngela Moll Art Quiltsre well-salted and sugared with references that will expand our horizons.
The Cafe is built of invited regulars who submit monthly posts and guest contributor who add spice to the conversations. Among the regulars are:

Angela Moll, whose Secret Diaries Series draws me in...
Gabrielle Swain, creative teacher and artist, and a friend..
Jane Davila, who blogs at Chary Sprouts.
Linda Frost. and
Terry Grant.

What I like about the Ragged Cloth Cafe is the variety of conversations started there; kind of like BlogHer with a fiber arts concentration.

Linda Frost detailed the dilemna of a quilter donating to a charitable event. These are artists who might normally receive hundreds of dollars for their work. Would you feel differently if you knew:
Artists can only deduct the cost of supplies used in the creation of the art. In 1969, Congress repealed legislation that allowed artists, writers and composers to take a fair-market value deduction for their work. Yet, while artists can no longer donate work for market value, collectors who come to own those works can take the full market value deduction if they donate to a nonprofit institution.

So, an artist’s donation of work must give its return in the satisfaction of supporting a worthy cause.
Catherine Jones recently contributed a two part essay on Repeat Patterns. She started stating the obvious:
In Western art especially, they’ve often played a subordinate role,
serving merely to fill a patch of unwanted vacant space, frame a
composition, or supply some texture to a pictorial scene. Repeat
patterns commonly function as elevator music: background to the main
conversation. Except, of course, when they are the conversation.
She goes on in Part One to discuss the kinds of repeat patterns found in wallpaper and yardage: how a repeated pattern fills space and becomes, as she said, background music. In Part Two, Jones analyzes pieces of art that combine repeat pattern with unique image. The repeats add dimension to the work and occasionally (such as the John Muafangejo piece discussed) another layer of meaning. Next month, she'll try to bridge the gap between main stream fine-art and algorithmically created art
imagery generated by computer procedures without reference to art history and without active intervention by the artist at every stage of the creative process.
I can hardly wait!

In Aesthetic Appeal: Is it in our DNA?, Kate Themel's finely researched piece, she suggests some of what each of us find appealling in a piece is based upon our cultural survival of the fittest. Those whose ancestors needed to recognize poisonous snakes may be drawn or repelled by the jagged line; florals appeal to those with a "gathering" past because flowers can indicate the eventual presence of food. While it seems that these genetic preferences make up only a small amount of our personal aesthetic, it's an intriguing concept to consider.

Jude Hill commented on Themel's piece at Spirit Cloth:
personally i think the things that comfort you are learned. taught or experienced. and ultimately remembered and therefore familiar. and why you choose certain forms of visual representation, well it has a lot with what you are comfortable with but it has a lot to do with the limitations of your technique.

some things seem universally beautiful or pleasing. it could be because there are certain things that are common to our experience. this is a comforting thought.
And Deb Lacativa at More Whiffs, Glimmers and Left Oeuvers wondered:
what does this say about people like myself who have never had a single qualm about critters of any stripe. Did our ancestors survive because we ate better? Did our ancestors come from another planet.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

BSG.. the best drama nobody's watching

Have you been watching Battlestar Galactica? The new series began 3 years ago and just started its final season.

While I'll admit there are elements of the show I don't like (people in/out of a character's head to be precise), it's been the best sci-fi offerering since Fox pulled FireFly off their schedule. It's resemblance to the original does not extend far beyond some similar names.

BattleStar Ponderosa
(it starred Ben Cartwright after all) premiered in 1978 during our "culturally corny" hey-days, but, being a sci-fi gal, I wanted to watch it. (Disco and corny TV - now I remember why I became such a big fan of PBS then!)

When the new program premiered as a mini-series, it was dark and personal and a very serious drama. Maybe the programs something of the times, but I was drawn into this story early. Most of the main character names remain: There is an Admiral Adama, hotshot pilot Apollo (Adama's son, Lee) and Apollo's best friend, Starbuck. This time, however, Starbuck is the call sign for the blonde female hell-raiser Kara Thrace.

Katee Sackoff, who plays Starbuck, also played the first "bionic woman" when that TV show premiered last fall. I love watching Katee act and will keep an eye out for her name as a guide to future viewing. She's strong and fearless as an actress, but this is about her character...

It's been rare to see strong, damaged women being portrayed in tv or movies. Women can be strong OR damaged but seldom both. This seems to be changingas we characters like Kara Thrace and Grace Hanadarko, from Saving Grace. I am not going to suppose what these characters show about our current society. Maybe it's more honest to admit these characters are real so we can move away from the Madonna/Whore dicotomy?

I'm rambling.

Starbuck is damaged, so she lives full balls-out and out of control when she's not on duty - even when she is on duty if intuition makes it "feel" right.

She is the almost the exact opposite of me. I doubt I could ever live like her, but there are days when I envy that recklessness.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Cleaning My Soul

Lilacs, closeup

Spring. Spring Cleaning: cleaning out what you don't need anymore. Putting a fine polish on what you have. Taking stock. Appreciating. And laundry dried on the line.

I'm in the mood to do some serious spring cleaning. Spring cleaning my soul, my heart, my life. Letting slip the self-centered, energy-draining, loud, demanding, unreliable or unhappy. Appreciating those things that bring value to my life: the dependable, reliable, humorous, loving, affectionate, authentic.

Taking inventory of my soul. I am ready to give up:

Settling for less than I deserve.
Pre-supposing others' reactions. (so tiresome).
Part-way friendships. (yes, I've often done the limiting)
Remaining silent.
Hiding from the dark and unknown. (small steps here).
Expecting nothing good.
Exaggerating possibly great outcomes. (take what comes, whatever it is.)
Tight control. (it's exhausting).
Maybe any control. (it's an illusion).
Kentucky Fried Chicken.
TV during the day.
Bigger than I need.

In spring cleaning your soul, what are you ready to give up?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow...

April 15th Sunset

I know I've been quiet this week. Quiet, actually, a lot longer. This week, however, there has been a good reason. I've been cleaning.

Why is it when I start to organize my sewing room, I can only get so far along with the job? I get part done, and usually pile "I don't know where to put them" items in the part I still haven't straightened in a while. Then things get out of hand, again, and I'm forced to make decisions and sort and move things back to another spot I'm not organizing at the moment.

(and how does the room get so messy if I'm not in there working that much? Oh yeah, I use the room as a holding station for everything that comes into the house.)

This week I started going through items again: what are the projects that I've been piling on top of the sewing machine? In what order do I work on them? What about the rest of the clutter?

I decided that many of these projects are simple things: lengthen a pair of jeans, fix a zipper in a hoodie, sew a panel dress, bind a quilt, finish a felted purse. I am tackling these projects immediately. Work on one, get it out of the room, straighten a little more, work on another, get it out of the room. I'm making real progress here.

Others need decisions made: a quilt I pieced several years ago really needs borders; I dont' have any of the fabrics left. Do I finish it as is or seek out alternative fabrics for the borders? When I'm down to the pondering pieces, each one will get time up on the wall. I will sit with the project for an hour or a day and make a decision. Go forward or give up.

I should have a handle on this part of the project in about a week.

The weather is getting nice enough to consider heading outside to do some dye work and improved screen printing. Getting the visual distractions of the "fix me" pile gone should finally free up some visual space for designing.

Bout damn time.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Terrific Tees.. Signing Party

Roberta Deluz at Book Signing

Sunday I went to a book signing for my friend. Roberta's book, Terrific Tees, was published by C&T on Feb. 14th, and has been selling quite well. No surprise, it's a great book concept. Imagine making t-shirt quilts that look imaginative; where the t-shirts are an element of the design. NOT simple squares of t-shirts sashed and bordered and tied (or minimally quilted).

Like that Cal Bears t-shirt quilt in front of Roberta that has bear paw blocks mixed in with it. Get it? Bears and bear paws? Yeah.. great idea.
Motorcycle Tshirt Quilt by Roberta Deluz
One of her latest creations is very Roberta.. completely insane medallions (inspired by Karen Stone's phenomenal designs) with Hell's Angels t-shirts in the center. The idea I think started as the wheels of the cycles.. and kind of got taken to the extreme. One thing you can say about this quilt: it's not your boring t-shirt quilt.

Here's the center. Look at the density of the quilting:
Tshirt Center of Quilt

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Put Your Money Where It Does Good

I'm an admitted Twitter addict. Those of us of who work in isolation seek it out for the "companionship" that others get in inner-office conversations, in lunches with the ladies, in some real-world interactions that we're missing.

On twitter, I keep on track with projects (GSD [Getting Sh*t Done] races during the day with others are fun), I share my healthy dinners.. and get lots of requests to become someone's live-in cook/room mate. We share good and bad moments.

As you might have read, one Twit-head, Andrew Baron of Rocketboom, is auctioning off his twitter accound including his followers. Silly idea, really. And I'm not getting into all that. If you're interested in a discussion/wrap up go read Virginia DeBolt's piece on BlogHer: Reputation, Friends, Follwers: What's It Worth In Dollars and Cents?

Note a big part of that article points to Odd Times Signatures, Karoli who points out what could be done with the money bid so far on this Twitter account. She used as her guidepost the BlogHer's Global Giving campaign to Save Women's Lives Around the World. I have the same widget over on my sidebar.

So here's the deal: I am going to place a post to this link up on Twitter and invite my followers to come here, click on that widget and give a little something. Those who regularly read my blog, you can show me some love, too.

I'm not asking for a lot. Can you spare $10 to run a Women's and Children's clinic in Nepal for 2 days? Would you ratherspare $15 to feed 50 girls lunch in poor west Africa? That's all I'll ask from you.

Or choose one of the other initiatives. Give what you can. I'd like to see that "Total Given" number grow to $1800 by tomorrow this time. Come On! Show a little love; I love you all back.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Week Ahead

Anymore I swear on Monday I look at the next week on the calendar and it's completely blank. Come back to check it out on Thursday and it's grown into something almost approaching a monster of logistics. I think part of the problem is having 3 different calendars (the one on my laptop, the paper one by the phone and the paper one in my purse.) that I don't take the time to compare every day.

I used to carry a cheap PALM that would sync to the computer, but I couldn't get that calendar to show up on my desktop or work as a reminder/alarm, so they were still independent programs that require my physically updating them all. PIA.

There are plans penciled in that aren't firmed up; I hold the space open as long as I can.. but when do you give up on tentative plans and just figure that the other parties involved don't care as much about the activity (or you) as you do?

This month I've suffered the MAJOR frustration of doing my best to communicate with people.. that is to send information OUT. Yet many of the people then suck my communication in like a black hole.. nothing is returned. What is the opposite of a black hole? That's me this month. And I'm getting tired of it.

This week: I have a tentative lunch tomorrow, an appointment Wednesday afternoon that's had the time changed twice. I had also accidently scheduled a dentist appointment for the same time; had to push that 2 hour plan to next week. Thursday has tentative plans; Friday my singing workshop has been changed up by 2 hours. I didn't find out about that until I showed up at the right time last week, so missed the class completely! (that blackhole thing...).

When these set/tentative plans work through, I have to hit the gym, walk the dogs, clean up my newly established office space, clean my studio so I can start sewing again, make a few phone calls, blog and write a proposal.

Could be a busy week out in the world.. or could be a long week working at home. Wish people would let me know if I indeed fit into their plans.


I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CraftCon 08: Truth- Story- Maker - Do

I spent the weekend at CraftCon, a business development conference for the craft community. There were craft fair organizers, online and real world publishers and authors, Etsy shop owners and more there to learn and share. Before the first hour of the event had run, I had my THEMES for the weekend; they held with every valuable person I met:


That is every individual showed up in an authentic way, sharing their own TRUTH.
Each of us had a STORY to share that others wanted to hear.
Whether we use tools or our hands, we are the MAKERS of our lives and our crafts.
We were there as attendees and presenters because we believe that Craft is what we DO. It's Active not passive. It's process more than product.

Rather than yammer on about my experience, I'd like to instead simply introduce you to some of the fabulous folk I met this weekend. Please click through on every link and fall in love in the people I spent this weekend with.

First contact: Show organizer, shop owner, crafter and power woman extraordinaire is Rachel Lyra Hodspodor. Online, you can find Rachel at Medium Reality. There you will notice her shop info, Pandora's Trunk, her studio log and her paintings. Rachel is the embodiment of Make and Do. I stand in awe of her competence and grace.

First Love: Betsy Greer of Craftivism. Warm, intelligent, engaging, obscene, opinionated, honest, approachable, funny, believable. Now If you ever meet her, give her a big warm smack for me.

Now in no particular order:

Reverend Callie Janoff from the Church of Craft.. Beautiful, confident, engaging.

Garth Johnson from Extreme Craft. I kept thinking that Garth and Mo Rocca were separated at birth. That might explain it all.

The Pittsburg Contingent. My brain (and body) was freezing, but let's see: he travel to camps to work with hemophiliac kids and makes shrinky-dink art from recycled plastic. She in the middle just closed her Pittsburgh shop and can't wait to open a new one. And Jessica is all the warmth.

Jeanee Ledoux is the author of a book and co designer for Honeydoux jewelry.

Julia Cosgrove from ReadyMade Magazine. Spoke about getting published and gave us all hope.

Natalie Zee Drieu, Senior Editor of CRAFT.

Autumn Wiggins. Owner of Etsy shop String Theory, creator of websites extra-ordinaire (she designed CraftCon including the cute button button!), one of the show organizers. She can half-a-dozen hats at once and do so with grace.

Faythe Levine. I didn't actually meet Faythe (my disappointment), but she showed a new clip from the movie Handmade Nation that I've written about before. Faythe hopes to enter it into maybe SXSW or SunDance next year; let's cheer that she gets accepted! Here's a preview of the movie that's been running on YouTube:

Girl on the Rocks. She knits, she's a geologist, she likes cocktails. If you are a real life knitter friend (you know who you are Pickle pals and Blogher Babes...) STOP READING NOW. (are they gone yet? Good.) The rest of you go see her Etsy shop because she makes knit markers with instructions on them. (like a kitchener stitch marker), and I think that many of my friends should get these; yet I want to them always wonder who my "top secret source" is.

This is it so far. Some of the people I met. They are all passionate and wonderful and seem to be living out my take away from the meeting: They Tell, Make, Do. And let me tell ya, they have stories!

BTW, the sessions that were held in the main theater were recorded and will eventually be available as podcasts for everyone to hear. I'll keep ya posted as that happens. My little session was in the second theater (no recording) but Vanessa from Etsy live-blogged the weekend. Her wrap is published as part of Etsy's Storque.

And, I think I rocked it.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Normally Programming Will Continue Shortly

Just a quick note. I've been catching up on real life, getting some rest and in general living away from the internets for a while. Just need me a short break.

I'm working on the mother of all posts about the people at CraftCon, and I've got assignments for BlogHer that are taking the spare bits of attention I have.

Normally blogging will resume shortly. Probably bigger and better than before.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Just a quick note..

This is CraftCon weekend, so I'm spending 2-2.5 hours/day (round trip) commuting into the city. But it's worth it, so far.

My talk on thinking about social media tools for the professional crafter ROCKED.

The people I'm meeting there are all cool.

I was neither the oldest one there, or the more boringly dressed.

You can catch the photos by checking Flickr photos tagged CraftCon.

They recorded everything in the main hall (I was upstairs in the dance studio), and it will available as podcasts in a few days at the website.

I forgot the card for my camera yesterday so only took a couple phone pix.

I can't wait for MakerFaire, and may make myself stay for the evening programs.

I wish I could have stayed for the gala last night, but I get home to feed the dogs. (does that sound lame?)

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, April 04, 2008

In The City...

24th Street

(from hand written notes this morning)

Doing this really old skool at the moment, using pen and paper to record my thoughts. I'm standing in an auxiliary space at the Brava Theater waiting to accept delivery of tables and charis for CraftCon this weekend. So wish I had a mobile phone, yet also know I cherish being free from the constant "noise" of the internets.

Instead I'm standing here watching the street. People walk by quickly with purpose, or casually sure of their destination and knowing that no clock applies. Cars and trucks go about their business. There is almost constant motion.

24 Street School Yard

This is a Latino neighborhood. mixed in with the standard city taupes, beiges and white are buildings of bright turquoise or deep gold. There are murals on nearly every block. The sun - the sun? in the city? really! - pools where it works down below the street trees. I can't identify the species.

24 Street Painted Lady
It's noisy yet quiet. There is LIFE here that I do not experience living in the suburbs. I'm drinking it in.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sidewalk Series: North Berkeley

Sidewalk Series: North Berkeley

Sidewalk Series: North Berkeley. Taken with my cellphone.

I was a couple minutes early for a luncheon at the Hillside Club last Friday, so I took the time to walk around the block and see if anything inspired me. I was surprised at how interesting the architecture for some of the houses were, but how boring the yards were. Little to say anything about the people who lived there.

I'm hoping it's just because it's early spring.

But as I walked I kept hearing this cat meowing; she did not move, sitting here in the middle of the porch and talking. Balanced by the orchid next to her, framed by the archway, in front of the gold door and above the red steps, I had to capture this.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.