Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections and Musings

It is that time of the year...time to reflect upon the passing year and determine what we hope the new year will bring.

I have goals to set...very specific ones and time limited ones but I haven't sat down and written them out. So, instead I will comment on this past year.

Many know that I have suffered from depression for at least 13 years and have been on medication to control it. This past year has been somewhat difficult and I just recently completed a sleep apnea test and learned that I have severe sleep apnea. Being chronically tired will cause one to be depressed....so now I am going through the process of finding the right nose mask to work with the air machine that keeps my throat open at night so I can actually breathe and sleep all night long without having to wake myself up to catch a breath. I have already noticed a big difference. It is amazing how getting enough sleep without interruption can help bring a calming affect to me. I am also noticing a significant lifting of the depression and some energy returning. So, there are goals to be developed around caring for myself.

I am learning to be kinder to myself. That means that I don't expect myself to be a super woman/artist/mother/spouse/cook/daughter, etc. I can only do what I can do. And sometimes that isn't a lot and sometimes it is.

I have learned that I am not a very good friend...I don't follow up with people like I should in order to maintain friendships. Friendships take work.

I have learned that I need to work on my self discipline---I will easily go to the studio and make art rather than do the dishes, write the notes, call a friend, pick up the house (much lest do any cleaning) etc. But I have to decide just what form my self discipline needs to take...I know I need to spend more time on the business of art.

I have learned that I have some very good friends who hang in with me through all my ups and downs. I am not always a very easy person to be with...just ask my husband of 39 years!

I have learned that I am not as committed to being some kind of super artist as I thought and that I have to decide for myself just what my real goals are in art and what I consider success. Of course, this may change...I am just thinking about all the shows I didn't enter this year, etc.

But then, there have been a lot of personal and professional highs this year too...but more of that later....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What I have been doing!

Jacob, my oldest grandson, now four years old, has spent his first four years at his babysitter's home during the day while his parents are working. The babysitter has a son just 6 months older, Noah. The two have become best friends.

So, for Christmas I decided to make some make-believe clothes for the both of them. Since it is no fun being something with out someone else to be the same, I made two of everything.

Above you see Jacob on the left with Noah on the right in their black satin capes which are lined in purple. This is a multipurpose cape...batman, magician, what ever.

I went over to the babysitter's house yesterday to give the boys their presents...they were very excited and very happy. I got them dressed in each outfit and they dutifully posed for me.

Below are the cowboys...made vests and chaps and got a couple of bandannas...they have hats and Noah supplied the boots.

Then came the real test of a grammie's love...making firefighting coats out of oil cloth. The coats have set in sleeves, collars, and are all done on plastic that has absolutely no give to it. But the boys loved them. At this point I was too tired to make the pretend boots that go with it...that will come after Christmas!
So, they played around in their capes turned to purple and you can see how it helps Jacob fly through the room!

And, not to be left out, Noah's little brother, Reese, put on the firefighter coat! He is ready with his hat, too!

More great news...
Last Thursday I emailed my doctor and asked her to refer me to the sleep lab for apnea testing. I was in getting the information and a testing machine on Friday, slept with the machine that night and this Monday I took the machine in and they read the results...I have severe sleep apnea. Whoa...this is good news because I have been so tired and have been very irritable and my depression has really been acting up. I wanted to rule out sleep apnea before I talking to the shrink about meds changes. This afternoon I went in for my sleep class and got my trial machine which keeps track of all the information and I am to use it with the very funny headgear while I sleep each night. I got fitted for the nose mask and and now ready to hit the bed...shortly, and hopefully get the best night's sleep I have had in a long time! Wish me a good night's sleep! I'll report tomorrow!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Well, I sold five of the twelve postcards. That's not too bad and makes for a nice donation to FFAC.

I realized that the remaining post cards are very different from most of my work. I seem to have been doing things that are more and more simple in design, more minimalist. Some people like it, some don't.

I have used four of my Color Blocks in a new ad in American Style for the March or April issue...I forget which. It will be interesting to see if there is any feedback or response from that ad.

I have the commission to do three pieces for the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center which I will start in January. It will be fun to revisit some of my older styles of working to create these new pieces.

As far as sewing right now, I have completed two pairs of chaps, cowboy vests, and black/purple satin capes and am ready to make the last two fireman's jackets and boots...these for my grandson and his best friend who are very much in to pretend play. I hope to be able to give them to them both late tomorrow...that is, if I get them finished.

My son was due in from Ohio yesterday but he got to Dayton airport and found out Minneapolis was shut down so back home he went with his new flight information. He left Dayton this noon and got to Cincinnati where he learned that his flight to San Francisco will be delayed by a couple of hours. Hopefully it will get out then! I haven't seen my baby in a year...my 30 year old baby....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sale for Fiberart For a Cause

I have put up 12 postcards to sell for the American Cancer Society Fiberart for a Cause (FFAC) which Virginia Spiegle has set up. Each card sells for $30 and I will send it to you in an envelope via first class postage.

If you would like to purchase one of the following postcards, please email me at lizberg@sbcglobal.net to advise me as to which piece you would like.

Wait to receive confirmation that the piece you want is available.

Then go to the FFAC donation page for the American Cancer Society at
http://main.acsevents.org/goto/FFAC to make your donation via credit card.

I will then receive confirmation from Virginia that your postcard has been purchased and will then send your card directly to you with confirmation sent to you that I have sent it.

Card 1: SOLD

Card 2: SOLD

Card 3: SOLD

Card 4:  SOLD

Card 5:

Card 6:

Card 7:

Card 8: SOLD

Card 9:

Card 10:

Card 11:

Card 12:

Monday, December 08, 2008

Musings on Traditions while ironing

Yesterday I finished ironing a large batch of linen and damask napkins. While doing so, my mind was at rest and was able to wander all over the place.

Understand that there is an art to ironing these napkins. First they must be spritzed with water, then bundled up and left overnight so that they become damp but not wet...evenly damp.

Then, remove a couple of them at a time, find the monogram and figure out which side is the wrong side. Place the napkin with the monogram face down in the upper right hand corner on the ironing board, hold the monogram somewhat taught but not so tight you rip the cut work, iron carefully with a hot iron, smooth down the four side seams, iron those and then iron the middle section. Fold over in half the correct way, then half again, then half again and then half again, all so the each napkin opens in the same way with the monogram right in front.

So, what musings you say?

For the first time ironing some of these napkins which are damask, I really looked at the images woven into the fabric. Of course when you iron 18 of them you get to see them a lot. There are a pair of cherubs in the center, cherubs in the corners, faces, and all sorts of curly cue shapes and designs.

I also noticed the patterns of the other napkins.

But most importantly, I started thinking about the fact that some of these napkins are over a hundred years old and have been used by five generations in our family. There are a few with some stains I haven't been able to get out, and some with some small holes in them. When the holes become too big I will cut out the monogram, hem it and then use it with family photos of the woman whose initials are in the monogram and make a nice shadowbox for the memory.

So I went back in years thinking about the generations that have used them. It reminded me of when I learned how to iron a shirt properly when I was 12 years old and visiting my aunt in Virginia. Her maid was down in the basement ironing the shirts and she showed me how to do it right...I still have that ingrained in my mind. (my mother never showed me how to iron)

And then I thought about using the napkins at my grandparents home in San Antonio, a home we visited every time we crossed the country on the way to another duty station (which was about every 18-24 months) and always seemed to be from one side of the country to the other. My grandparents were very formal and we sat at the large round dining table with family portraits hanging on the walls. Using these napkins. Now the table is at my fathers, some of the family portraits are in my house and I have a bunch of the napkins.

These are beautiful napkins...not something to daintily pat your mouth on, but 22" squares of beautiful damask and linens. And then there are others that are lace edged with scrumptious cut work and embroidery. The backs look almost as good as the fronts. And all monogrammed with the initial F for Furnish, a part of the family that goes back to Kentucky and then back further into Alsace Lorraine. And I think about the history of this family and my family and the continuity brought by these napkins.

I used to always serve a formal dinner for Christmas with damask table cloth that took me three hours to iron because it was so big, the napkins, the china which has been in my family for three generations, the silver which my grandmother on my mother's side gave me, the crystal and all the small candle sticks in silver holloware that I have collected. What a table. What a lot of work.

Last year we had the pretty table, the napkins, the crystal, the china but I put out a buffet and people grazed and played games and talked and relaxed and opened presents and played with the children. I think I will do that again.

But I think I need to show my daughter how to iron these napkins!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Jane Davila and Elin Waterston

Some time ago, Jane Davila and Elin Waterston were putting together a new book and they asked a number of various artists to participate in different things to create work for their new book. I was so impressed with their last book, the Art Quilt Workbook, that I had to say yes. I did my work, got it shipped off to them and then have been waiting to hear about when it will come out.

Jane has sent out the message that they now have the ok to start letting people know it is coming out! So, look for this book when it comes out in January, 2009. Of course you can get a copy autographed directly from them!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Way Too Long

I can't believe it has been so long since I last did an entry. Much has been going on.

I have finished one article for Quilting Arts which is with them in the editing stage...almost done. I have almost finished another article for Cloth, Paper, Scissors and am currently working on the art work for that one...it is due in another week so that should not be a problem.

Spent the afternoon at the Alameda County Arts Commission for their first approval on the recommendations of the selection committee and we each (15 artists) made very brief presentations with information on what we were going to do and showed a sample of our work to the board members. They all approved the work and artists and now it just has to go to the full board meeting and then the contracts come out. I am being commissioned to complete three pieces which will all be about 50" wide and between 34 and 40 inches long. Two will be abstract landscapes and one will be one of my balancing acts which I will create just for this. I am really looking forward to doing these pieces.

I have come to realize that I really like doing commissions. I know that many people don't but so far it has worked out well for me.

Figuring out what kind of art work I am going to do and what I am going to pursue has really been on my mind a lot lately. It seems that it keeps coming up for me. I have had fun doing the various things I have done, such as the color blocks series and my new little red squares which I really like.

But I like working bigger. I think I have gotten caught up in trying to make some that will sell, even though I have really enjoyed doing what I have done. I know I have taken the color blocks as far as I want to take them and I have some ideas about taking the red squares further. I realized that what really excited me about the red squares is the fact that they harken back to traditional red and white quilts...in color only but they give me that feeling of nostalgia.

Every day I am working on art in some way or other. Generally I have been creating some art every day although I must admit that I went up to the cabin in the woods Thursday after turkey time and my daughter, her husband, my husband (who is my daughter's father) and the two grandsons went up. The kids had to leave Saturday night but Doug and I stayed until Tuesday evening before we came home. Beautiful weather...in the 60's but only down into the mid 50's at night. We came home and it has been cooler here...I hate to say cold because I know many people are having snow already. But we are in California! One day it's warm and the next day it's cold!

I have another article proposal in to Quilting Arts...I enjoy writing those and they get me going in to some different things.

I'm working on paper collages right now...I need to get some in to Virginia for Collage Mania and also Baker's Dozen swap. I have also told Virginia I would sell some of my postcards to raise some funds for the American Cancer Society so I guess I had best get on with it and work out the details of how we will do it and then I can start posting them on my blog. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I have decided to cut down a piece in the color blocks series that is up on my wall that I am not very happy with but I think it will work better cut down. Then it is on to working on California Dreams 4 about the Sierra foothills...where we were this past weekend. The ideas are in my sketch book and my head. I have also started thinking about CD 5 which will be northern California with the redwoods and lakes and blue, blue skies. So this past weekend I took pictures of branches to consider using for silk screens...we will see how that goes. But first I have to get CD 3 down off the design wall and get a sleeve put on it.

And I am also working on the lessons for Advanced Better Art by Design. My current intro class is limping along slowly but that has been ok...need to decide when to do another one of those classes, perhaps Feb. would be a good time to start again with that.

Well, tomorrow it is up on the blog with postcards for sale...stay tuned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Red Blocks

Tuesday night I went to bed but could not sleep. I had seen someone's art work which really got me thinking about possibilities and why we do things the way we do and stay in a rut. For instance, why do I feel I need to work in three layers? Why do I feel paper collage needs to be separate from art? What I am doing with fabric is really collage...what else can I incorporate?

So I was up until 2 am thinking and sketching and taking notes. This was about painting on raw canvas and using the canvas as the fabric and forgetting backing and batting. Part of this I had worked through with my piece, White Washing the War, which used a collage process with all sorts of things and never had a back or a batting and had raw canvas edges that were stitched to keep them from ravelling any more.

Up Tuesday morning bright and early with just five hours of sleep and off to the studio I went. Red has been on my mind. Not due to political reasons but because it is a color I really like. So I cut up some canvas scraps and started sketching lines and squares and then painting them...first the squares and lines in red and then the background in off-white and white combinations. Then home I went to add some sewing to them. These are my first ideas. More to come.

So what do you think? Red Blocks 1-4 are for a 4x6 mat opening and 5-8 are for a 5x7 opening. They are not finished for showing as they stand bu should be matted and framed, with or without glass. The 4x6 pieces are $40 and the 5 x 7 are $50. I will include shipping. Let me know if you are interested.

Red Blocks 1 4 x6

Red Blocks 2 4x6

Red Blocks 3 4x6

Red Blocks 4 4x6

Red Blocks 5 5x7 SOLD

Red Blocks 6 5x7

Red Blocks 7 5x7

Red Blocks 8 5x7

Monday, November 17, 2008

A New Hope

I haven't written about the elections, the campaigning, my hopes and worries. It was very interesting for me to realize that this election year has been filled with more things that mean so much to me.

I read McCain's positions on his official website, I read Obama's positions on his official website. I liked the positions of Obama and was pretty concerned about McCain's.

Then McCain picked Palin for his running mate. At first I thought it was brilliant on his part...an attractive woman who spoke plainly could get things going for McCain. And then she spoke some more and more, wink, wink. I went through the roof. I could see her in a meeting with a Saudi Sheik winking and talking about Joe Six-pack. I had never really considered McCain as a possibility but now a real element of fear entered into the election for me. What if McCain were elected and died...she would represent our country. Real fear. Fear for women's reproductive rights, fear of Christian's who have given Christianity a bad name being in the White House, fear of scientific teaching going out the door, abstinence policies that have been proven not to work being touted, fear that more teenagers who are pregnant will be heralded as doing the right thing by keeping their babies or getting married before high school is finished, fear the the freedoms I hold very dear would disappear. And in California we had to deal with Prob 8 which would remove the right for non-heterosexuals to marry.

So much intolerance. So much fear mongering. So scary.

I was in New York at the time of the election. I had sent in my ballot before hand. I tuned out the election news by immersing myself into my class. I did not watch the news or TV, I did not read a paper for four days before the election. Prior to that I had been a news junkie. Went cold turkey.

Election night came and I refused to watch the early guesses coming in...I've seen too many polls and news people trying to guess without enough information to go on. So I didn't watch.

I went to bed but at 10 pm got up to take a peek in the class room where there was a TV and saw that Obama had the lead but still had a way to go. So back to bed I went.

The next morning I was informed that Obama had indeed won the election. I have never felt such a heavy burden lift as it did at that moment.

And then, later, to see that he had won by such a large margin! There is hope for our country.

I lived in Virginia in 1960 when the public schools had been closed as a response to the order to integrate the schools. I had seen the signs over water fountains that said "whites only". My grandmother was southern all the way and called people of color Niggras. And today we have a president elect who is part African and part American...black and white. What a world we live in.

And then last night I listen to 60 minutes interview Barack and Michelle Obama. Everything I had seen in his campaign came true. His answers were well thought out. He was clear. He was concise. He acknowledged that the entire country has to work together. He was presidential. He can laugh at himself. He can be a normal man and talk about doing the dishes. His wife can tease him and he isn't threatened. They clearly love and support each other. She has a grace about her and a calmness that I am glad will be with him.

I have hope.

On other thoughts...I sit at my computer and look at a maple tree across the tree from me. I watch the seasons through that tree. We are in our typical Bay Area fall which means it is summer one day, winter for a week, fall for a week, summer for several days, fall again and so it goes. It is like this until spring finally comes around. Then the rains stop and the sunny days are here with fog in the evenings to cool us down.

What I notice most about this tree is not so much the color of the leaves changing, but the color of the light as the sun's position in the sky drops down. I walk out my front door and have a glare in my eyes from the low level sun. But the tree...it glows with the late afternoon sun coming in from the low west. The light at this time of the year has a golden glow to it. It seems to warm up things. The reds look redder, the blues look bluer.

I have finished my quiltlets for the article, now have to finish writing the article for Quilting Arts and then on to one for Cloth, Paper, Scissors. But I can feel the pace slowing down. It feels good.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Time to Leave

This has been a tremendous week of hard work and great fun and lots of growth. I have had such a delightful time with this group of women. It has been so exciting to see people recognize that they are artists and have some ability and will keep on working to create even more art. Each person has wandered through the exercises and have made their own work in their own way. For some, working with fused fabric allowed more spontaneity, for some working in the abstract was a little difficult. But all created some wonderful designs.

The first three days were spent working through the exercises and elements and principles of design. On Wednesday they each started making for 8 x 10's which have been posted. They continued working on those on Thursday, some doing some stitching and some waiting to stitch until they return home. And then they got started making even more art!

Unfortunately I did not get pictures of all the work that each person was producing. I don't know quite how that happened but it did.

So enjoy the ideas coming from my students!

Suzanne was working really hard and created some great pieces:

Susan H. finished off this little piece and went on to do several more which I did not all get but here is one more of them:

Our other Susan went charging ahead and did this piece and one other that I just didn't get a picture of but was just great and so very different!

And then Sheila, from Canada, went to town! She finished two of her 8 x 10 pieces and put together these two small pieces, working from her design thumbnails:

Not to be outdone, Moira from Tasmania, Austria, produced a number of interesting pieces but unfortunately I failed to get pictures of them buthere is one:

Melinda worked on a eye study for three pieces, did several other interesting things and finished up with the dancers below:

Mary was also very busy and created this piece which is ready for quilting:

Alison came in with three huge notebooks of photographs from her travels all over the world and said she needed to learn how to focus as she just had too many ideas. She created several great pieces, which, again I didn't get photographed but these two studies were done from her thumbnails, same image but different color ways.

And, last, but not least, Alice did the stitching on the piece she had started earlier and also did other work which I didn't get.

As a teacher, I can't tell you how happy I am to watch students absorb so much, internalize it and play with it.

I leave for home this afternoon and return to my own commitments for a magazine article due in a couple of days. I am also still waiting to hear exactly what the county is looking for in their commission as in December I will need to submit some samples to the board for their final input. And then to get another article done! Well, at least I don't have to pack up and ship anything for Form Not Function at the Carnegie! Didn't get in there this time so will try again.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Better Art by Design Class in Person

My poor students. They have been working so hard for the past three days and finally things slow down a little bit so they can begin doing some bigger pieces of work more or less on their own with guidance as they desire. It has been a busy three days with lots of little exercises to do, ideas to learn and colors to try out. We are absolutely enjoying our stay at the Greenville Arms Inn in Greenville, New York. During the summer they have painting workshops and during the cooler spring, fall and winter they have fiber workshops since we are in doors. A great place to study.

Above are Susan and Suzanne working hard on one of their exercises. In the next picture you see Susan, Suzanne and Susan all working together, hard on their color exercises on Tuesday. They were still smiling then.

Above are Shirley on the left and Alison on the right. In the next picture is Moira from Australia on the left and Sheila on the right.

Above is Melinda, working away with her glue stick. The next picture shows Melinda and Mary hard at work with their color exercises.

Alice is trying to find the just right color.

these images are of 8 x 10 exercises done on Wednesday afternoon and evening. They have not been quilted yet, although the one on the right has been started.

More images of 8 x 10 exercises.. some appear larger because I had to take them by themselves so the images are larger but the work isn't.

And some more...

and some more....

And some more....

And the last two of these 8 x 10s.

Each student did two 8 x 10's yesterday afternoon. It was really a lot of fun to see what everyone did. There are some big growth spurts for some of the students. One student has only been quilting for a year and is off and ready to fly. What fun for a teacher!

They have all be filling up their sketchbooks with notes and their many exercises along with the class lessons. I will get some pictures of those to show you.

I am so proud of these ten women who have committed to working very hard and being open to change. What a delightful group of women to work with! They all have a great sense of humor and put up with me very well!