Please feel free to link to this blog or use the handy e-mail tool at the end of each post. However, all contents of this page are copyrighted by Cindi Huss. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission from the author (Cindi) is prohibited. This includes all images unless otherwise noted.

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!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Snow in Tennessee, and VOTE

Well, after a month of company and a computer break-down I'm back in the saddle again--again. I'm looking forward to posting all the things that have been running around in my head for the last month and a half, but for now I will share this:

It's not yet Hallowe'en and we had three days of intermittent snow flurries. In Tennessee. What's the deal?! I thought about taking pictures but if you blink--or push the button at the wrong time--you miss the flakes, so . . .

Anyhow, nice of Tennessee to make us feel so at home--we'd been wondering about a winter without appreciable snow after the whopper of a winter we had this past year in Massachusetts.

My last word: VOTE.

If you're in the States, get out there and make your voice heard tomorrow, whatever your preferences. We are endowed with some truly wonderful rights by being citizens of the U.S., but we have some truly solemn responsibilities as well, and voting is right up there at the top of the list.

If you're still undecided and want to find out what among the candidates' claims are true, check out, a nonprofit, nonpartisan fact checking service. It's enlightening.

And if you don't vote, don't whine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Felt is yummy!

Made some more nuno, including this piece that I'll use on my piece for the New Focus exhibit at the Coos Art Museum:

felt side

silk side

I started out with a piece of china silk 28" x 24 1/2" and ended up with a piece 11" x 9". Bob declares this, like all my artistic exploits, to be highly inefficient, but he admires the end results anyway (because he clearly has good taste).

This was just the thing I needed to start me moving. I wasn't ready to jump right into the piecing or applique process, but as long as I could tell myself I was just fooling around I managed to keep moving--it's hard to get back into the swing of things when you haven't had a real routine in months!

This lovely bunch of cotton/silk satins and three lovely variegated threads are helping, too. Compliments of my MA Round Robin, they have added color, shine, and inspiration to my studio. I have another quilt in mind for them--want to combine their lovely shimmer with the lush matte of wool roving. Mmmmm, mmmmm good!

I just couldn't help myself

Well, I said I had stopped taking pictures of the frequently spectacular skies here, but . . . had my camera to take photos of my youngest's first race and . . . the sky was so cool after the race. All these photos are from the same evening. So here, for your delectation, is the Eastman Chemical Company's headquarters building here in Kingsport, TN:

and a couple of photos from my driveway:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Glorious Asheville

So, of course I forgot to take my camera, but went to Asheville, NC, on a day trip with ma familia today and it was awesome! Felt like being back home in W. Mass. but bigger and with better weather. I discovered Earth Guild, which is smaller than WEBS but still a great supplier of weaving, woodworking, clayworking, felting, dyeing, and basketmaking supplies. Also visited toy shops, book stores, an organic festival, a decadent sweets/ice cream shop, various other shops, and finally the Lobster Trap, a fabulous restaurant with fresh Maine seafood--go figure!

Anyhow, Deborah and Francesca, if you're reading this, I thought of you all off and on all day--thanks for recommending Asheville! And the rest of you, if you're ever down this way, definitely stop there.

Next time I go alone and walk from gallery to gallery to art supply shop to gallery to gallery to coffee to gallery to . . . well, you get the picture.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One of my favorite things . .

. . . about our new home in Tennessee is the cloudscapes. The sunsets are beautiful any day it's not raining, but the daytime offers awe-inspiring sky vistas as well. Pictures say it far better than I, though, so . . .

(These last three are taken from my back yard in suburban Kingsport.)

For a while I was taking photographs all the time--until I realized that this is par for the course and that inspiration frequently is only as far away as stepping out the door. It lifts my soul, sends it soaring, exhilarated, joyous.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Back in the saddle--mostly!

The studio is nearly unpacked--I can now imagine what it'll look like once the boxes and extraneous furniture are gone.

I have missed my fabric and find myself caressing favorite tools and materials as I put them away. Ah, the secret life of quilters!

So, since I have a deadline looming and a commission I should be working on (and because I NEED TO WORK!!!), I played hookie from unpacking and spent a couple days working.

Did a few very small painted studies (including these two):

(clearly haven't made it out of my color rut yet--
so I've decided to embrace it)

And made some faux nuno, including this piece:

Now that I have the new process down, I'm making a felted piece for a new work--woo-hoo! Never thought I'd resent a long weekend. (Well, not really. Or . . . well, only a little. :-P )

I'll end on a note of apology: A great many people made our last days and weeks in Massachusetts memorable and smooth and uplifting and wonderful, and I really haven't mentioned that--or them individually. Everything just caught up with me at once and I had to let it go to remain sane.

I hope I did manage to thank you all in person, but if I missed you in the blur and rush please accept my apology and know I appreciated everything you did for me and for my family. You all rock and we are tremendously blessed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We're live! We're live!

The new Dancing Threads website is up and running! Woo-hoo!

This new and improved site includes both Dancing Threads studios: my studio in the U.S. and my dear friend Pascale's studio in Ireland. Pascale is a rocking tapestry weaver and a fabulous teacher.

Gloderworks is great and Pascale and I love our new content management system and really enjoyed working with Derry (the "der" in Gloderworks). He was always patient, prompt, polite, and professional--and never stuffy.

Anyhow, check out or to see what we're so excited about!

Monday, July 28, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Community Garden
by the 2007-08 third-grade class
P.E. Bowe Elementary School, Chicopee, MA
with Cindi Huss

Didn't the kids at P.E. Bowe Elementary School do a great job?! They designed the foliage, fruit, veg., and flowers on paper then translated them into fabric. The fringe at the bottom is made of 199 wood joining biscuits with words the students came up with about what it takes to make a community and/or a garden grow and thrive.

The kids also made design desisions, such as where to "plant" their creations and what to quilt in the background. Some of them just fell in love with quilting and sewing and all of them worked hard. These kids and their teachers rock and it was a privilege to work with them this year! (Click here to see some of the other things we did together.)

Timna Tarr (Q Tailored Quilts) rocks, too. I called her in a panic in June because the end of school was fast approaching, we were getting ready to move, and I couldn't figure out how I'd get the quilting done on this piece in time without crippling myself (it is extremely heavy and quite thick in places).

Found time in her very busy schedule and quilted this in a day! Woo hoo! Thanks, Timna, for putting up with my unreasonable requests for all these years!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seat-of-the-pants wrap-up--Part I

I'd love to create a long post about favorite places in the area (Pioneer Valley in Western MA), but that would require heights of organization and planning that I, frankly, am incapable of --aside from plans for our (very) impending move, so I'm going with a much more seat-of-the-pants approach . . .

Today I had lunch at Judie's in Amherst, MA, with my friend Cindy--fellow quilter, fellow dancer, fellow ex-Pittsburgher, fellow office supply junkie, fellow Belchertowner (for a couple more weeks anyhow), and fellow foodie and Judie's devotee.

And while my sister is the queen of photographing beautiful food before digging in, I apparently am the queen of gluttony.

I dove right in to my lovely, velvety bowl of seafood bisque. I excavated all the best bits of my decadent lobster salad and enjoyed them with Judie's scrumptious creamy onion dressing. And . . . well, the key lime pie with creme brule cheesecake top (pure culinary genius) boggled the mind and I savored each bite in between sips of a perfect cappuccino.

Then I remembered I was supposed to be taking pictures. So here's the one photo I did get:
Guess this is why I trained as a journalist, not a photographer.

More as I can . . .

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Heights of Domestic Insanity

Isn't it cute?!

We kicked it all off with an open house last Saturday. After our Memorial Day bash the floors, including the throw rugs, were trashed. The amazing Alicia Murphy took care of the floors and DH took care of the rugs.

If I had been thinking I would have done the rugs and used Synthropol so the red didn't turn everything pink, but I can live with that. However, they didn't come out of the dryer flat and that was a problem.
I had the iron out for the tablecloth, so I, who avoid ironing at all costs unless it involves a quilt, ironed the rugs. With lots of steam. And it worked! And I'm a nut. Ironing rugs.

I've become a lunatic, obsessing about the kids tracking dirty footprints across the floor and messing stuff up. I've taken to being out of the house as much as possible so I don't mess it up. I am much happier when I can be more relaxed about housekeeping. Oy!

But the house looks great!

Tuna Tower

I dragged my poor friend Lori to Whole Foods last weekend ostensibly to buy wine and peppers to prepare for a Memorial Day party, but really so I could take a picture of this before the display changed:

She surely thinks I'm a nut, but it just illustrates my growing sense that taking a little time and effort to make even mundane things colorful and interesting is worthwhile. Hey--it made me smile, which canned tuna fish does not generally do!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Disaster Area

I've been doing so many things around the house and trying so hard to keep it moderately tidy that I have done almost no work for the past three months. However, I must finish the mural I worked on during my 10-week autumn residency with third graders from the P.E. Bowe Elementary School (Chicopee, MA) before the end of the school year (just after the middle of June).

Since we have had to delay putting the house on the market (long boring story) I took the opportunity to create a little temporary chaos in the living room. You can see what it has looked like here. And here was its state last Wednesday:

However, it's all in a good cause. All five panels are done (except the extensions where the tree branches will continue into the neighboring panel). Now I must quilt and mount them.

For the mural part of this program (we explored several quilting techniques and traditions) the children (three classes of about 25) drew vegetation then translated it into fabric and designed the three middle panels ("Spring," "Summer," and "Fall"). They also decided that the 200+ words about community they came up with would be written on "seeds" (carpentry biscuits) suspended from the bottom of the quilt and "rain" (method and materials TBD by me).

When it is done the piece will measure just under 4' x 10'. Hopefully I'll be done with the bulk of the work by the end of next week.

Anyhow, I have completely enjoyed myself (other than stressing slightly about the mess I made and how short my time is) and can't wait to finish this up. The process demonstrates, however, why it was important for us to find a house with a large, dedicated studio space somewhat removed from the rest of the living space in our house. Apparently my creative process requires chaos to thrive!

So-cool Treehouse!

Was on my way to the music store the other day when I saw this awesome tree house (tree complex?). If you look carefully on the right-hand edge of the photo you can see where the second-floor roof of the house is--this thing is waaaaaaay up in these extremely large trees!

As if the suspension bridge weren't cool enough, these folks have attached a series of rings to the bottom side of it so you can cross like a monkey if you'd like. And they've kept safety in mind--the high ladder is surrounded by construction fencing so kids don't topple off backwards.

Makes me feel a little inadequate as a parent!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My new studio (and house)!

We have a house in Kingsport! Woo-hoo!

It's a ranch with a big yard in a family-friendly neighborhood in Kingsport City proper, so the kids' schools will be great.

It also has a great BIG studio space--the entire finished basement! Imagine this space with a whopping stash, racks of thread, rolls of batting, a big design wall, and a large space for felting and dyeing (and pay no attention to that woman sticking her tongue out--it's an obscure counting ritual practiced by overwrought house hunters.)
On our first visit we saw deer in the backyard.
My youngest's favorite feature--the laundry chute:Definitely some super spy possibilities here!

Anyhow, it's a lovely house in move-in condition with discrete spaces for living and working, so I think we'll all do very well here.

I already have plans to update a couple of things (like the matchy-matchy pink toilet, bathtub, and twin sinks in the master bath and the dark, dated kitchen) but overall it's a pretty great house. And the housing dollar goes a lot farther down there than it does up here!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fiber Art Center Closes Doors

So sad. I went in to the Fiber Art Center today to help pack up the last of the consignment goods. It is so difficult to see the physical closure. It took 7 years of hard work by so many people to build it up, yet everything has been dismantled over the course of just a couple weeks.

I have enjoyed the Fiber Art Center as an artist, teacher, vendor, student, audience member, volunteer, working member, cheerleader, public relations coordinator, newsletter editor, fundraiser, curator, etc. It was a lot of hard work but I am so much richer for having done it.

The Fiber Art Center was a marvelous dream and wove together a community of incredibly talented artists and fiber art enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the current economic climate is not conducive to the survival of a small nonprofit arts organization.

I will cherish the memories and the and friends I've made and be eternally grateful for the opportunities, guidance and encouragement I rec'd at the FAC. You all rock!

The website, with a retrospective look at the last 7 years (scroll down the first page) will be up for a few months. Check it out to see what we all wrought.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everything's coming up . . .

. . . shibori!

I had a lovely three-day dyeing workshop with Jan Myers-Newbury last week (or at least it was last week when I began composing this post).

(By the way, Jan, I lived on Summerlea St.--I knew the knowledge was in there somewhere, but it only surfaced today.)

At dinner she pointed out that the ceramic lazy Susan on our table (at Susanna Foo's--excellent food!) looked like shibori, and she was right.

Then I noticed the bathroom wallpaper looked like shibori, as did the wood grain on a table, bare branches against the sky, and the clouds we looked down on during our flight last Sunday.

And then there are the clamp-resisted wannabees, like this cool building (very "early fortress")

and the reflection of a beaded curtain, also at Susanna Foo's


I even found an arashi shibori overdyed with a clamped resist--or is it a clamped resist overdyed with arashi shibori?

I know that shibori originated as textile artists observed and mimicked the world (particularly the natural world) around them, but it's fun to come full circle and suddenly see much more intensely the patterns around me. Thanks, Jan.

Anyhow, met lots of interesting people and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Took a day afterwards to visit college friends and that gave me a great boost, too. They say you can get the measure of a person by the company she keeps . . . therefore I must be a truly phenomenal specimen of humanity!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's a different world than where I come from

We're house hunting in Kingsport, TN this week and the first night we saw this sign. Here religion is not a personal, private matter as it is in New England. It's a wear-it-on-your-sleeve, share-it-with-your-neighbor sort of a thing, and that will take a little getting used to.

However, the area is really quite lovely--tons of flowering trees just now, beautiful green grass, flowers, mountains, rivers and lakes. Pretty spectacular all told! And everyone has been very nice and extremely helpful.