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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Speed of Life

I have frequently said that I chose the wrong medium for instant gratification. I said it when watching my friend Pascale weave a blanket in an hour and a half (not counting the dressing of the loom, of course). I said it when watching my mother whip out a painting during a watercolor class she was teaching. I said it when doing my own work in paint, and especially I said it after reading about an artist that does the hermit thing in a cabin every winter and emerges with 75-100 new paintings a couple of months later.

However, I love my medium.

So, after years of trying to make it work faster, I finally came to the conclusion that quilting, at least as I do it, is a sculptural medium and that I can compare it to the guy in the Berkshires who carves large wooden characters over the course of a few months, or the bronze artist who first makes the model, then the mold, then the bronze.

My medium requires a process. First I begin designing, which sometimes includes one or more studies, then I dye fabric and piece, nuno, wet felt, and/or applique, perhaps dyeing again if needed. Then I'm about a third of the way done, for the design and execution of the quilting scheme follow, as does the binding and mounting.

So if I can't crank out 25 meaningful works in a month that's O.K.

However, I could definitely learn to make design decisions a little faster--sometimes I'm a little too precious. So that's one of my resolutions for 2009: More quality work. More work = more opportunity.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I love a museum that has it all pulled together. Just got an e-mail from the Coos Art Museum where three concurrent contemporary quilt exhibits are taking place. They've put up virtual exhibits of each one. If you go to the New Focus tour, my "After the Storm I" is the middle quilt in the third photo.

After the Storm I (c)2008 Cindi Huss.
“Treetops toss joyfully, lit by the sun, defying the passing storm.
Live joyfully, lit by love, defying ignorance, hate, and apathy.”

Procion MX fiber-reactive dye on hand-manipulated cotton and silk fabric.
Nuno felting on silk with a variety of commercially dyed wool and
designer roving and extreme quilting.

All the work in New Focus is 12" x 12" or smaller and mounted on unbleached canvas on a stretcher frame.

Beyond the wonder of being able to see the exhibits when I can't be there in person is the satisfaction that given a body of quality work, museums are happy to accept quilted art as fine art. Good incentive to keep raising our personal bars as well as the professional bar by which we all measure our work.

What a great way to finish off this Christmas Day. Wishing you and yours a most joyous and peaceful year filled with hope and love. Good night.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dancing School in the Basement

I love the name Dancing Threads Studio. It captures the dynamic nature of my materials, is a little "in" reminder of my passion for international folk dancing, and it's a link to my friend and fellow dancer Pascale, whose Irish tapestry studio also is called Dancing Threads Studio.

However . . .

I've been getting all my ducks in a row so I can teach classes in the studio beginning in Feb. 2009. Created a nifty class catalog and everything. Excellent.

I procrastinated a little (not as excellent) but still was doing things in good time. Getting a little excited . . .

Until . . .

In addition to the business license forms for my city and county I had to send in a "Home Use for Occupation" form. I read the regulations in question to make sure my activities wouldn't cause a problem, filled out the form, and sent it in.

A couple of days later I received a call. The concerned and apologetic voice on the other end regretfully informed me that it would be impossible for me to run a gallery and a dancing school out of my home.


Referring to the brief (owing to the amount of space provided) paragraph where I described my business on the form I assured the concerned person on the other end of the line that I would operate neither a gallery nor a dancing school. I explained that mostly I'd hang out by myself making art but that I occasionally wanted to offer a class, which would never start before 10 a.m. or last past 9 p.m.

Oops! TMI

Mr. Concerned said all business activities had to take place between dawn and dusk. Referring to the regulations, I noted that they specified 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Mr. Concerned said, well, that might be all right, but I really couldn't have a school of any sort in the basement because they just couldn't have loads of people just invading the neighborhood all the time.

Seriously? How big did he think my studio was?

Perhaps sensing the fact that my head was spinning, he suggested that I speak to someone with a little more authority to straighten things out.

In response to her questions, I explained to Ms. Authority that I planned to have fewer than one class per week, and sometimes (as in summer) whole months might go by without any classes whatsoever. I said class size might be around six students and that several of their cars could be accommodated in our driveway. I reiterated that the threads, not the people, would be dancing and that, for heaven's sake, we were a bunch of quilters and felters--how crazy could it get?

I figure what she doesn't know about us quilters and felters won't hurt. :-)

She asked me to e-mail an expanded description of my business activities with all these points in it. I did, and then I waited.

For three days.

Then I called to follow up. Thankfully they had not rejected my petition--they simply had not received it. Once Ms. Authority received it, however, she quickly approved it and wished me good fortune in my endeavors.


So, I'm all official now in TN and studio classes are on for the spring.

My city and county business licenses, my state sales tax form, and . . . my Spring 2009 Class Catalogue! (plus my "Sculpting with the Quilting Stitch" guild flyer and my friend Sharon Ritchie's Tutu Die 4 postcard).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Verb of the Day

Last weekend (with considerable muscle power contributed with a happy heart by D.H.) I feng shuied my studio--and I mean "feng shui" in the sense that I generally mean "kleenex"--as a generic descriptor rather than the discreet name brand.

I had one nook in my studio all put together. It is full of light and has lovely views, and I even had inspiration up on the walls. and my sewing machine and cabinet with current projects fit in there perfectly.

But I just couldn't move forward, so I decided radical change was in order. Because it is the only out-of-the-way space in the studio, sort of tucked around a corner, it is now the T.V. nook where D.H. can join me in the evenings and where I can watch good old movies (or chick flicks) while doing handwork in the daytime.

Now the studio looks HUGE. and I can see how to move forward. (A more flexible mind than mine probably would have figured this out a couple of months ago, but I love that nook and wanted to sew in it. However, now I love the whole studio!)

And apparently it worked because I unpacked most of what was left this week and dyed a load of fabric for a commission that I've been stalled on. Woo-hoo! Still no photos, but that is mainly due to the holiday rush and a whole slew (sp?) of appointments--we're nearly there!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Casting Light

As I stumbled through the house in the dark at 6 a.m. this morning it seemed a little brighter than usual. So I took a quick peek out the back window on my way by. And stopped. And looked again.

It was a little bright out, but the strange thing was that instead of shadows, the trees were casting light. Seriously.

My poor sleep befuddled brain searched for shadows and didn't see any.

Several seconds later I realized that the light was produced by the ambient predawn glow reflecting off the patches of snow left after a day of sun yesterday.

However, I still embrace the casting light image--it was beautiful, wonderful, weird and lovely.

And a great metaphor. So try to cast a little light today and I will, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In the Saddle Again, Again . . . Again

Seems like all I'm doing is trying to find a pace and routine in the new studio. You'd think it'd be easy what with this great new studio with space and light and all. Somehow it still feels a little odd, though--perhaps I need a little feng shui. Whatever it is, I gotta get my groove on!

I do have loads of floor space cleared out and am nearly ready to post photos of the sstudio, but in the meantime, in order to get all inspired, I flung my largish (about 3.5 feet per side) works that should be in progress all over the floor yesterday. That banished my sluggishness and inspired me to make that last sprint to get the studio done so I can send out press releases and advertise my Spring 2009 studio classes and maybe even throw a studio grand opening in January.

They don't look like much yet, but I can see where they're going and (mostly) how to get them there. It will be interesting (at least for me) to see how different these look when they're done!

Anyhow, once the studio is all done and I've got my groove on, I promise more interesting and frequent posts. (Or at least better titles!)