Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, to all who celebrate and love this holiday--

I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but I can't escape it entirely since I live in Utah. It is a huge holiday here, as big as Christmas and definitely bigger than Easter. And Utah county has grundles of trick or treaters. Oh well.

I did, however, get this wonderful Halloween fibercard from Miles- I love it! Love the colors, the stitching, and I still haven't figured out how he cut out that dinosaur skeleton so accurately. Thanks, Miles, it has a place of honor on my postcard wall in my studio.

I went to my poll worker training this morning, the fourth time I've done this. I'm expecting this to be a late night- polls close at 8 pm, but I bet we have a line and then it takes time to do all the tallies and pack everything up. I'll actually be at the same school I was at for the primary in February.

As fixated as I have been on this election, I will be glad when it is over. I remain hopeful, but I'm not counting any chickens before they hatch- I also remain leery of and suspicious of problems that could compromise the outcome. If the outcome is still unclear when I get home, I'll be looking at returns from Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I have been harassing my son in Tampa mercilessly to VOTE EARLY! And tomorrow is his last chance.

My pollworker training reinforced an observation from my trip to Colorado a couple of weeks ago. In the previous elections I've worked, my coworkers have all been boomers or older. There were at least four young workers in my class today, one looked barely old enough to be out of high school. And, the group in Colorado had a large percentage of volunteers in their twenties and thirties.

I've not seen this level of political involvement by a young generation since I began voting in 1972. I'm thrilled that they care enough about their country to volunteer, and to educate themselves on the candidates and their positions. While we were driving back from Colorado, Jeff played a podcast from NCR about the causes of the financial crash. I learned about financial dealings I'd never heard of before- including the fact that much of what was going on in Wall Street was nothing more than legalized, unregulated gambling. And it was a kid in his twenties who helped me with that bit of economic education.

I came away from that trip with much more respect for the generations after me, and the feeling that it is time for us boomers to pass the torch. We had our day, we made great music- but we screwed a lot of others things up. I'm hoping kids like these will do a better job with their lives and their families than many of my generation have.

So, I leave you with this photo of the giant poster along the wall of the Obama headquarters in Montrose. I will be following their election night returns also- I have a personal investment in that outcome!

As my friend Judy says on her blog,

Peace, Love, and Obama '08!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some of this, some of that--

I had a hard time coming back to reality this week. I stayed home on Monday, and left early on Wednesday. I think I mostly have my head back in my own life, not in Colorado. And I will be glad to have the election over, the other residents in my home are heartily sick of CNN. Me, I just want to have it officially announced that he has won the presidency.

I did engage in some art and quilty activities this week. Friday, our WAQ group met at Julaine's. We played with watercolors on fabric, and making them permanent with textile medium. I think I'll also try it with my watersoluble wax pastels- it has potential for small works where the hand of the fabric isn't as important. I took my camera, but then completely spaced off taking any pictures. Oh well.

I now have three strip sets done.

I've been wondering why I'm finding this so enjoyable- I dont' usually work in monochromes, but I'm enjoying this one. I even have a tentative name- Seasick. My next design decision will be to determine if I continue with curved lines, or include some straight. Right now, I'm thinking I'll use straight lines to join the three sets, then curved everywhere else. I'm planning to try it out with a collage in my 'new' sketchbook. And, I have no doubt the piece will tell me what it wants to be.

I've also been doing some knitting, here modeled by the intended recipient, Shilo the miniature Schnauzer.

This is the second sweater I've knit her, and I decided I needed to make a cardigan, for easier on and offs. Here's the backside-

And, I just can't finish without posting a couple more pictures from last weekend in Colorado. Jenn is a graphic artist who works up at Snowbird. She made a neat piece of chalk art on the sidewalk in front of the Obama headquarters in Montrose--

And I definitely can't end without posting a picture of Dave's car that we drove all over rural Montrose county canvassing for Obama. If you can't tell, Dave works for Uintah Brewery, a microbrewery in Salt Lake. We definitely turned some heads, both in Colorado and Utah!

When I feeling a little less rushed, I'll post what I learned from the three kids I spent a weekend with. I may be back in my own life, but the influence of that weekend will linger a lot longer, I think.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canvassing in Montrose, Colorado

What a weekend! I was connnected with a group travelling from Salt Lake to Colorado Friday afternoon, and they picked me up close to home early that evening. We didn't end up going to Grand Junction- they had enough people there, so we went to Montrose, which is about 65 miles south of there. The terrain really reminded me of Price in east-central Utah, where we lived for six years. However, unlike Price, this is traditionally strong Republican territory.

From the headquarters in Montrose, we went to the Gibson's home- a brave family who opened their home to seven Utah volunteers. Despite our late arrival (after midnight), we were up and at the headquarters by 9:30 Saturday morning.

I wish I had pictures from Saturday, when Alex and Justin taught us how to be an effective voice for Sen. Obama. The room was filled with 30-35 volunteers, and about 2/3 of them were from Utah. We were students from the U, young professionals, and baby boomers like me. We were white, black, brown. It confirmed everything I'd read about the ground organization the Obama campaign has built over the past two years.

The group was smaller on Sunday morning, but no less determined. Here's Alex (or Justin, they are brothers who look a lot alike!) giving us our marching orders. We'd just finished watching the video of Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama- a powerful statement that was everything politics should be about. It had meat, it was positive, and by the end I was close to tears.

Here's more of the group. I'm in between Jeff and Dave, two of the people I rode up with. Jenn, the fourth person in our car, is sitting to Dave's left. We had a ball, but that will have to wait for another post. Sorry this picture is a little fuzzy.

They had all kinds of posters around the office. I especially loved this one- which anyone who has lived in the west will understand. It references McCain's stated wish to renegotiate the Colorado River pact, which governs how much water each of the states can take from the river. Andre was kind enough to agree to my request to stand next to the poster.

These were on a bulletin board in the office. I LOVE the Old White Women for Obama- I think I'm going to try to find a way to have this on a tee shirt.

I walked more those two days than I have walked in ages. I'm calling it the Obama weight loss program! I spoke with lots of people. Yes, I encountered my share of McCain supporters, most polite people and some friendly despite our differences. Not one door slammed in my face, and I was only told to "take a hike" once.

On the other hand, I met people who were eager to talk about Sen. Obama and his positions, who were hungry to know more. I was able to talk about why I was supporting him, even that I'd given up a weekend to travel to Colorado to volunteer. One gentleman honked at me and gave me thumbs-up while I was walking, then turned his car around to talk with me and ask if I needed a soda. He helped me out with some directions, and thanked me for helping in his state. It was awesome!

And we went to homes of people that were frankly shocked to see a volunteer, because they lived so far out of town. No, we didn't walk it- when we had done our walkable parts, Dave, Jeff, Jenn and I piled into Dave's car and drove to houses that were out there- small ranches, and the kinds of rural "neighborhoods" I'm familiar with from my time in Price. We canvassed in trailer parks, older neighborhoods, and brand new subdivisions. We met turkeys, chickens, more dogs than I could count, horses, goats. But the best was captured by Dave and Jeff- the Obama Llama!!

We worked full days both Saturday and Sunday- we turned in our last packet about 7:30 Sunday night, then headed home. But I can't finish this post without a picture of our hosts, the Gibson's. They were wonderful hosts, friendly, welcoming, and fun to be with. Here's Cheryl and Gordon, and their daughter Katie, who's also a volunteer for Obama ad a teacher at a local charter school. I really enjoyed getting to know all three of them.

I'll have more to post, but I have to say that this was just an incredible experience. I've always been a responsible citizen- I've voted in every election sinc 1972, and tried to educate myself about the issues. But no candidate has ever inspired me the way Sen. Obama has. I've donated to his campaign multiple times- another first for me. And now I've canvassed, another first! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks??

Friday, October 17, 2008


No, no rants this time. It appears I will finally be spending a weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado volunteering for Obama. I catch my ride in Provo early this evening, and we head out. It's a given that Utah will go for McCain-- I'd much rather work in a state where my volunteer effort might make a difference.

Never done anything like this before, but I don't think I've ever cared about the outcome of an election as much before, either. So I wanted to do something besides donate and vote.

I'll take my camera, and hopefully have enough energy Sunday night to blog about it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Strip Sets

Our weather took a definite turn for the cold this weekend, so I decided it would be a good time to actually put some of my hand dyes and hand printed fabric to use. Apparently I'm still fixated on water (same subject as my 'released' journal quilt), and I've had a design floating around in my brain for awhile. With the laundry done, and the house clean, I was in my studio by 7:30 am, coffee in hand. I love early mornings, and do my best thinking then.

I thought I would use Vicki Pignatelli's construction method- but after one try, I could not get a stitch I liked. So, I ended up using Sharon Shaumber's Piecelique method, and it worked great. I got the pieced look I wanted, the curves were easy, and I got almost two complete strip sets done. Here they are--

The one on the right is not quite done, I'll add a few more strips. I plan to make one more, then pin them on the design wall and start playing with sashing. Curved? Wonky? I don't know yet, but I'm sure it will tell me eventually.

I also tried discharging one of the darker turquoise pieces I dyed last weekend. Here it is, after I activated the discharge paste with my steam iron-

I've never gotten purple like that before, but I liked it even if I didn't get the value contrast I was hoping for. I tried discharging more with Soft Scrub, but it had absolutely no effect. Then I washed it, and used it in the strip sets. That beautiful purple? It vanished, and is now a barely visible taupey color. If you click on the strip set picture, you can see it towards the bottom.

I'm determined to get serious about making quilt art this winter. The Utah Surface Design group, of which I am the current president, has two opportunities to show next year. April, we will be in a gallery in Salt Lake that emphasizes sales. We can do wearables, so I'll try to do a bunch of scarves. And next fall, we'll have a show at the same Provo gallery we were in a year ago. I want to have good pieces in both shows!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dyed, Washed, and Dried

I was up early, moving fabric from the dyepots and plastic to my washer. I think I got some great fabric to work with.

These are the monoprints I did, using turquoise and cerulean blue.

I'm glad I got some paler values, I need those. Sometimes my love of intense, clear color gets in the way of good design, and I'm trying to be conscious of that.

Here's the blues and blue-greens that came out of the color parfait pots.

I did an experimental pot, with yellow, ecru, and gray. Some wild ones came out of that. It fascinates me how yellow sometimes will make her presence known.

And the warm colors I got--

The top one was not from a dyepot, I folded it and put yellow and fire red dye on it, alternately. I love this one!

I also got to two of the scarves. It was harder than I thought it would be using the thermofax- the screen has fine writing on it, and it is hard to get a clear print. But I think with the addition of another image or two, I will like this one. Red and black are two of my favorite colors to wear.

The other scarf, I added stripes with irridescent charcoal and irridescent red Shiva paintstiks. The effect is subtle, but clearly there.

I learned something from this weekend's dyeing. It really made a difference having my dye concentrates made up,and the fabric already cut. I was done yesterday sooner than I thought I would be. So, planning ahead really does make a difference. I still have some dye concentrates left- maybe I'll use them to make some paler values of the color parfaits. Another weekend, though!!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Dyeing and Sketchbooking

I had so many dye concentrates left over from last weekend, I was not about to let them go to waste. So I got up this morning, grabbed a bunch of pfd, and had at it. I did some monoprinting, and several pots of color parfaits as Ann Johnston has in her book Color by Accident. I used lots of turquoise, so I'm letting them batch overnight with the heat lamps on them.

I also did my last three silk scarves from Dharma, all long skinny ones. Here they are drying, after setting the dyes in the microwave.

I'm going to used black paint with a thermofax on the red one- it's writing, my great-grandmother's graduation essay. I think I will use Shiva paintstiks on the middle on, both metallic red and charcoal. I don't know if I will do anything to the one on the left, haven't decided yet.

Bentlee is here this weekend, so I took the book I got at DI a week ago that I had already glued pages together. We started gessoing the pages so we could paint and print on them- here's Bentlee drying pages. You can see the dyed stuff on the back of the table.

First I let Bentlee draw and paint on one page. She used the underlying image of the bird to help her develop her drawing, then painted it.

Then we did monoprinting with a transparency. I learned that you have no open time with cheap acrylic paints, they dry FAST. So, we worked fast. For me, these were more color studies than anything else- I've got a lot of fabric in the blues and turquoises, and want to start developing a quilt using them. I think this could be fun!

I didn't think it would be possible to use my watercolors on the gesso, but my brother told me about a painting he saw at an exhibit that was exactly that, and he said it was spectacular. He showed me the catalog- it was detailed and crisp, and looked beautifully done. So I will be trying my watercolors, just not with monoprinting. The colors of the acrylics I bought aren't as clear as I like, and I know I'll get better color with the watercolors.

I also got a present in the mail today! Miles told me he like my rust print, so I sent him that and some other fabric goodies, in exchange for a piece of his work. And this is what I got--

I love the colors,and the sensuous lines. I will have to look at it awhile, and probably consult with a friend, before I put this to the needle. The white especially, there's no screwing up there. But I think this will be lovely finished. I also got another goodie from Miles, but I won't reveal that one until Halloween!

More tomorrow, I'll post the results of the dyeing, and hopefully the scarves too. Hope your weekend is a good one!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Well, I've avoided any political statements or rants on my blog, but today will be an exception. I have been avidly following the race since the beginning of the primary season, and last night was a fascinating political TV experience.

To her credit, Sarah Palin did not self-destruct, as she did with Katie Couric. She actually strung multiple sentences together that weren't gibberish. She did hold her own for much of the debate, and I'm glad Joe Biden recognized that and treated her like any other debate opponent.

I'm not that familiar with Biden- I've spent most of my life in the West, except for seven years around Chicago. I thought he nailed it- he knows the issues, gave specifics, and met her head on without condescension. I'd sleep easily with him a heartbeat from the presidency. Her, I'd have nightmares.

In addition to morphing into a CNN junkie, I've also become more familiar with poltics on the web. Today, I found this link to an editorial in the New Yorker on Andrew Sullivan's blog. It put into words precisely why I will vote for Obama this election- not because he is the lesser of two evils, but because I am inspired by him, I respect him, and I believe he is the right man at the right time. My profession is human behavior, and watching his calm, thoughtful demeanor through multiple crises has only reinforced that belief.

I was especially interested by the reference to his first book, Dreams from my Father. I read before the 2004 Democratic convention, and don't even remember why I picked the book up. Whatever the reason, his life story resonated with me, and I have been following his rise in the national scene ever since. I do believe his early years make him uniquely suited to lead our country at this time in our history. We are at a critical juncture,and can't afford to continue down the same tired road, with the same tired policies any longer.