Friday, February 29, 2008

Where'd that thing go?

Did you know that you can easily do without your gallbladder?
I am finding this out, as just yesterday I lost mine. Gallbladder, that is.
I discovered, in a startling and rather painful way, that I had gallstones. My doctor recommended that the gallbladder come out in order to avoid potential unexpected consequences such as pancreatitis and other infections.
And you know? I headed over to the hospital at 8am, was in the OR at aout 9:30 am, and was home floating druggedly in my own bed by 2:30 pm. And they REMOVED a body organ in the meantime.
Mind-boggling, isn't it?
At any rate, I'm now in a pain medication fog and will be for another day or two. My folks have showed up to aid in the childcare, my mom bringing tupperwares full of healthy soup. It's nice to have my mom around when I'm under the weather.
I have a stack of novels at my bedside, but every time I read, I find my hazy mind wanders into sentences and plots I make up all on my own.
Anyway, if you don't see me here for a bit, you know why. I'm off floating in la la land.
Um, do I look different without my gallbladder?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pink on a Grey Day

It's a very grey and rainy day here today, so I thought I'd cheer myself up with a few shots of blooms on my favorite camellia bush in the backyard.

Because, you know, sometimes I just need a good dose of PINK.

I feel better already.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A lot of work and a little play

I seem to be having one of those phases where the juggling act that is my day to day life is a bit trickier. I have a big pile of legal work, a child home sick today, minor surgery for me coming up next week, various art project deadlines coming up, and general chaos around the house... Ah, well. The art project deadlines have moved to the bottom of the list, the sick child gets priority, and I'm doing legal work when I can.

Still, we managed to have a very fun weekend. We had C's birthday party (a few weeks after her birthday to accomodate various must-have-guests schedules) at a local pottery painting studio, and a good time was had by all.

Here is Caroline with her best friend Lani. Caroline's painting a horse, of course.

And, happily enough, my BFF Beth was along to share the festivities.

It'll be fun to see how all the pieces turn out when I pick them up this weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monoprinting on fabric results

Thought I'd post the results of my monoprinting on fabric with thickened dye. I think I mentioned earlier that to thicken the dye, I mixed sodium alginate (a thickener from Jacquard), some urea and water. Then I mixed procion dye powder straight in, and printed onto PFD fabric that I'd previously soaked in soda ash solution.

You can see the cool pattern made by the dye beading up on the plastic. I actually liked that pattern better than the various line experiments I was playing with.

So eventually, I just started painting fast strokes of dye on the plastic to get that pattern.

I cured these by stacking them up with plastic grocery bags between them so they'd stay moist, and left them overnight.

I wondered if the color would fade when I washed them out, but it's very strong color. Which I wanted.

I'm still not sure the mess was worth the result, though. I guess that's what experimenting is all about.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monoprinting Monday

I celebrated the Monday holiday today by playing a bit with monoprinting. Funny, it's been an assigned task in a workshop I'm in but I've been putting it off because of the mess and just general uncertainty. And it seems that lately, everywhere I turn there is information about monoprinting... in the recent Quilting Arts magazine, in a gorgeous book I received recently (Print, Pattern and Color by Ruth Issett)... So, seeing as how it seemed that monoprinting was just going to jump into my face until I did it, that's what Caroline and I did this morning.

I started by playing with acrylic paints and printing onto white paper.

The exploration was supposed to be about "line," so that's what I fiddled with.

It was rather freeing, I must say, and very fast.

Then, I mixed up a batch of sodium alginate as dye thickener (yikes, what a lumpy mess), waited the appropriate time, then mixed dye powder in to try monoprinting with thickened dye onto fabric soaked in soda ash solution.

To my surprise, painting the dye onto the plastic resulted in the thickened dye just beading up, like so:

which made for lovely patterns, actually, but I wasn't prepared for that. Is that normal?

I've printed up a bunch of small fabric sheets but they're wrapped in plastic to cure overnight. It'll be interesting to see what those look like. So far, the thickened dye printing didn't catch my fancy, but maybe the results will be so stunning that I'll rethink.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Book Review: Thread Painting

Many fabric artists understand what a difference threadwork can make on a quilted piece, and most of us are familiar with the concept of painting with thread. But in this new book, "Thread Painting" by Leni Levenson Weiner (Krause Publications, 2007), Weiner makes the concept and technique very accessible. Leni Levenson Weiner is a talented quilt artist, as you can see by looking through her quilt gallery. So it's especially fascinating to get a close-up look at how she uses threadwork to not just embellish, but also create the focal images for her pieces.

The book includes solid information on the basics of thread painting (tension, stabilizers, needles, and thread). However, the meat of the book is in the various image sources Weiner demonstrates as the starting point for thread painting -- sketches, lettering, photographic images, even the print of fabric itself. Weiner shows good examples and gives tips on how to illustrate, highlight and embellish images with elaborate thread painting. This makes the process look easy and fun and well worth a try. I especially like how many photographs there are, showing each process step-by-step.

The processes are demonstrated through 17 specific projects, including thread painting on clothing, making fabric postcards, and making a portrait sketch from a photograph. The book includes patterns and templates to use if you want to duplicate them or use them for practice.

Although the projects are attractive and provide good examples of the variety of uses of thread painting, my only disappointment with this book is that there isn't a separate gallery of more thread-painted pieces. While I like that the book has fairly simple examples (in increasing complexity), I also would like to see more complex work by Weiner and other artists to give me something to aim for in developing these skills.

All in all, it's a book worth looking at.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cats and more cats

After a solid week of rain last week, we have been enjoying bright sunshine. We made the most of it yesterday by heading up to the ranch after school to visit the horses.

I've mentioned before, I think, that there is an uncountable number of cats hanging around up there. The ladies who own the ranch moved in with 4 neutered cats, but they live in a rural area where feral cats roam and cold-hearted people have been known to drop entire litters of kittens off to fend for themselves. Because these ladies feed them (and gather them up for trips to the vet for health checks and neutering from time to time), they've made themselves at home there. There are cats almost everywhere you look.

So we were not the only ones out enjoying the sun. The cats were out in full force, lolling and basking. They were on the roof of the shed...

and on the hood of the truck...

and following us around to lounge on the ground...

Clearly, the car hood option was the majority's choice for primo napping.

A few just watched from the shade, wary of us.

And this shy little one stayed in hiding.

This fellow found a comfy spot in the sun in the middle of some nice, springy bushes. Do you think we can't see him because he's hiding behind that sprig of leaves?!

With all the picture taking of the cats, the horses got jealous and demanded to be photographed too. So, here's Ranger...

and here's Romance.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Day on Animal Planet

This was the view from my windshield as we arrived at the ranch to visit Caroline's step-horses (you know, the two beautiful horses Caroline has been given permission to visit and ride and treat as if they are her own). It was clear when we left our house, but we encountered quite a downpour when we arrived.

Pygmy goats don't come out in the rain, but they're still curious.

And, as usual, there were kitties huddled everywhere, staying dry.

Eventually the rain stopped, so Caroline got in a bit of horse loving and grooming.

From there, we went to my sister Laura's for the late afternoon and evening, leaving Roger to watch the Superbowl in peace. But we had a better time: watching Animal Planet's Puppybowl! If you have never seen this, you must follow the link and click on the video to watch some of the puppy highlights. Basically, they show puppies tumbling around a tiny football field space, romping and biting and stumbling all over themselves. It was wonderfully entertaining, and the half-time kitten extravaganza was hilarious, too.

C'mon, what can possibly be as cheering as watching puppies romp and kittens play?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My day in pictures

I am having such fun with my new camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ18. I took it with me yesterday while I was out running errands and took pictures along the way.

I love this westerly view as I drive out of our neighborhood. You know you're in Northern California and not that far from the ocean, with that coastal fog nestled in the hills.
Then it was off to the library for a bit of browsing...
The library is one of my favorite places.
When I parked in town to head into a shop, I parked behind a flashy black Corvette.
Then it was time to drive out to C's school for pick-up. The road out to her school takes me past beautiful vineyards, and I love this old barn.
These gnarled fruit trees always make me happy too.

The mustard weed is springing up in the field behind C's school. As my grandfather used to say, "There's mustard for your hot dog!"
Here's a shot into my rear view window of the mommy cars lined up for the kid stampede.
Then home for an afternoon snack of cookies and tea.