Turtle Trax Diary for May 21, 2001. Page #32
Springtime in Ohio
by Lucky Magnolia (Susan Shie)
If you like, go to Page One of this diary entry.
Two days after camp ended, off we went to Austin, TX, to teach to a small group of quilt artists called ATAG: Austin Textile Artists Group. Frances Holliday Alford, who had been a camper at Turtle Moon Studios here in January, 1999, hosted us coming. We stayed at her beautiful and relaxing home and taught at her studios there. Frances, her husband John, and all of the other ATAG artists made us feel right at home, and we all had a great time.
The theme of the class was "Astrology Art Quilts." Everyone had sent me their birth information ahead of time, and I had done all their charts. Equipt with my book "Lucky Stars: A Little Astrology Primer," they were able to start to get to know what a chart is all about, as we sewed and painted. I also gave a few astrology mini lectures as we worked. Considering that the class was less than a week long, we did a lot in a short amount of time!
Above are Julie Upshaw and Vickie Hallmark painting away in Frances' outside building studio, doing the preliminary parts of their main class pieces.
Here's Helen Hyams, chatting while making her piece in class. She sometimes brought her husband Frank over to class, or out to eat with us, so that Jimmy had a buddy to hang with, too!
Jimmy worked outside in the lovely Austin Spring weather to teach airbrush. Here Julie's all set, dutifully wearing her respirator!
One night all the students stayed overnight and had a slumber party. Judy Perez, who is their resident tarot goddess, presided over a session of doing a tarot reading for every one of us!!!!! The others had dressed her all up to be a Medium of the highest order, and we were treated to great insights and fun! She even let each person select from several decks for her own reading!
When all the astrology chart quilts were well underway, everyone had to help assemble the pieces into a big quilt on the wall, just like we do at Turtle Art Camp. Then I showed them all how to sew the panels together, assuming that first you would finish all the panels, of course.
In the photo above, Judy's standing on a table, Yoshiko Kawasaki and Tomasita Louviere-Ligons are handing her panels to switch in the top row positions. (This quilt fit together TOO well, as we all used fat quarters to paint our blocks on, and there were nine of the panels!!! So the challenge became to get the color and light-dark balance nice. Theses guys got off easy, but they still had to climb the ladder to sew the seams!)
Here are the astrology quilt blocks made by Sherri Lipman McCauley (left and cut off. Sorry Sherri!!!) and Yoshiko Kawasaki.
As I looked at the blocks, each made from a fat quarter of cotton, each bound the same way, each a horoscope design, I marvelled at how much each of us made our work really reflect our personalities! Sherri used the star designs she loves to put into her work, and Yoshiko made a delicate and peaceful image of a snail. And she is very slow and thoughtful about everything she does!
And there was also a mini quiltlet piece being assembled. Before we had started sewing the main project of the chart panels, we had each worked on a very small sampler, again as we do in camp here at home. We'd gotten kinda homogenous, with me suggesting we all do PEARS, as Sherrie Lipman McCauley was amazed when I had told them in my star talk that the Earth is pear shaped, not round. (This was to explain why the astrology chart has unequal houses or divisions.) And we each put the degree and sign of our Sun on the appliqued pear.
Above Frances is taking her turn at arranging the pear blocks, as Jimmy looks on.
Here's the final arrangement of the pear samplers. In this little project, the real goal was to be able to learn many of the Lucky School of Quilting techniques in one day. Most of us got them done in a 24 hour period, but it took persistence! We even got the beads on! (Remember you have to wait to bead, til after all the quilt and embroidery stitching is done, so the beads don't loosen up later, as stitching will shrink the quilt more!)
Also, I'm pleased that a few people diverted from the pear theme and took off in other directions, with a crescent moon and a Venus of Willendorf! Oh, and a winged pear. Is that one dead and gone to Texas???
Besides taking along my "Lucky Stars" books, I also had my little "Lucky Signs: A Drive-By Zodiac" coloring books there for the students to look at. Tomasita took time to read the entire book out loud to Judy and Yoshiko! The plot is St. Quilta the Comforter and me explaining the traits of each sign, with St. Q as the straight teacher and me as the smartypants.
Besides knowing Frances a little bit from her being our student here before, we had gotten to know Tomasita a little bit earlier this year, as she was our arranger, our planner via email and phone. It was wonderful getting to know her more in person that week in late April!!!!!
Here's a nice shot of our quilt blocks in their final arrangement on the wall. We had to stand on a big ladder to work with the vertical and horizontal sewing lessons, as there's wainscotting on the wall. From top left, the blocks belong to: Frances, Sherri, Yoshiko, Judy, Vickie, me, Julie, Helen, and Tomasita.
Because there were only eight students, I had the luxury of teaching one on one or two, showing each person how to do shisha mirrors and my Lucky Holes. Tomasita was getting the hang of it pretty fast here! Frances took to it like a duck to water! She's an amazing quilter, sewing night and day, and sometimes getting her wrists all out of whack, because she loves to do it so much, she can't stop!!!!
This is my own chart panel. I was able to paint my planets with airbrush, from memory, since I've been working with my chart since I was a teenager. But I can't do Jimmy or Gretchen or Mike's chart from memory! I wish I could. Now it's nearing a month later, and I still have a long way to go in embroidering/quilting this piece. I want to do another painted chart of mine and also one of Jimmy's chart, to put on our anniversary quilt (that I add to every year in late June.) Only those don't need to be padded and quilted. Just painted on fabric and then hand sewn to the anniversary quilt.
Our last night in Austin, Frances and John treated us all to a marvelous experience on Sixth Street in Austin: The Boiling Pot. It's a kind of Creole place, where there are NO PLATES! They bring the food out in a big bowl and dump it onto butcher paper table cloths! You get brown paper towels for napkins, and honey, you're gonna need a lot of them! You wear a plastic bib, and yep, you're gonna be so grateful for that, too!
You get busy and rip the heads off those crawfish and shrimp, and you slurp up the juice of that delicious corn on the cob they've boiled in with the seafool. You have a little wooden mallot to smash the crabs open with! You get to thinking this must be what it's like to be a seal, dining on the beach!
Above are Jimmy and Frank, Helen's husband, and Frances and John. Judy brought her kids, too. Thank goodness Tomasita sat beside me, to explain to not eat the heads. Yikes! But it was really good and a very different kind of happening!
Here is the happy Astrology Class of ATAG, Spring, 2001! Helen Hyams up front. Sherri Lipman McCauley, Julie Upshaw, Yoshiko Kawasaki, me, Jimmy, Vikkie Hallmark, Judy Perez, Tomasita Louviere-Ligons, and Frances Holliday Alford.
We worked hard and played hard together! Many of us ate out together, sampling Austin's finest!
When Jimmy and I presented a slide lecture at Frances' home one night, with quilters outside ATAG invited in for our talk and a carry in meal, I was impressed that we in the class already felt like a family, to me anyway, and the guests were all our company! Frances and her husband John's lovely home was full that evening, but I didn't get crowd nerves, which I sometimes do! I felt really relaxed as we sat in easy chairs and told about our art in the slides.
Many thanks to Frances, John, and all the ATAG girls!!!!!!!
Back home from Texas, it was time to start the gardens! We actually didn't get into the main garden til May 11, Mama Wanda's birthday, which is the exact day we started last year, according to my garden diary. So we might as well declare May 11 to be Rainbow Garden Day!
Here Jimmy is using the little Mantis tiller for the first time in the big garden. He'd done up some fine flower beds a few days earlier, but this was the real test! It turns out the Mantis makes just the right size row width for our garden. And you can pick it up to till around perennials you want to leave alone! This is great news, as the Rainbow Garden is becoming a mix of perennials and annuals now.
We only got two rows tilled and planted, before the big Ohio May Rainy Season hit! It's still going on now, by the way, and this is not good! We had hoped to have the whole garden in by now, but here I sit, working on this diary! It just keeps on raining just enough to keep things muddy. I know it'll all come out in the wash, but still, this is PRIME TIME!!!!!
I have six trays of 72 Jiffy peat pots each, growing plants from seeds, to pop into the gardens later, maybe in early June. And we bought some plants from the high school Science Club, who sold Ohio Prairie Plants. They're all perennials, and some won't bloom til next year. We put those all together in a bed behind the house, our own little prairie! I see that the big rain has allowed tons of little morning glories to come up all through our prairie though, and some ripping out will soon be needed, to keep those rascals from climbing all over the prairie plants as trellises!
The above three pictures are paintings I just did on the inside and back of a silverware box I had started painting two and a half years ago here at a camp. It's called "St. Quilta Blessing Box #1." But we decided it looked really sad, still having the velvet and molded padding inside, where the silverware used to go. So Jimmy and I took all that stuff out and sanded, soaked, peeled, sanded, ripped out, and replaced the bottom entirely, as a last resort!
Now it has, from left: Mom on the inside of the lid. (It's a young Mom and doesn't look much like her, but never mind!) Dad on the inside bottom of the box. (Same deal: young and not looking like Dad!) And Gretchen on the outside bottom of the box. (OK, she's still young, but she doesn't look much like this Gretchen! That's why I write everyone's name on their painting, lest there be confusion!!!!)
This box has gone to Miami U in Oxford, OH, where we'll be teaching a Diary Furniture class in CraftSummer, this July, and it'll be in the Faculty Exhibition there. Our idea is to have it standing up on a pedestal, like a hinged picture frame. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of the original painting of the front and outside sides of the box, which show St. Q herself. But if you go see the show, you can see her, too! But you probably won't. That's OK. These new paintings are the best parts anyhow! And I'll get pictures of it later!
On Mother's Day, my entire family was here at our house for a big Shie Pow Wow! Luckily that was a wonderfully dry day, even though it was pretty cold out. This picture is the aftermath of my brother Larry (right) having put on Omari the old kid-harness Mom used to put on HIM and later on Debi, so Aimee could see how it works. Aimee had taken Omari outside with the harness on and let him walk all around in it. But she chickened out on taking it home and really using it. These days people think you're abusive if you have your sweet little kid on a kid harness!
Still, it kept Larry and Debi from running away! And they knew Mom wasn't being abusive! She was hanging out the wash, and they could run up and down the other clothesline, while her hands were busy and her back was turned! Ah, the good old days! I'll keep that harness handy, in case Aimee changes her mind, or Gretchen wants to use it later, when she has kids!
Can you believe how big Omari has gotten? His first birthday was March 7. And Aimee and her sister Sharon are both well over half done with their LPN nurses' training course, to graduate in August! We're so proud of them!
Soon we'll be down at Athens, at the opening of Quilt National '01, at The Dairy Barn Southeastern Ohio Cultural Arts Center. Above are two closeup details I took of our piece in the show, "The Cookbook / Hierophant; Card #5 in The Kitchen Tarot," just before sending it down there for the exhibition. They're the two top corners of the piece. I can't wait to see the show and to select the 2001 GREEN QUILTS AWARD, with Robin. We'll work hard that first day, reading all the artist's statements, comparing, and looking for the perfect piece to represent our project this time!
I've got to get busy and make the award, which is always a potholder sized quiltlet. One tacky rule we have is that the award has to go to an artist who attends the opening weekend festivities! That way we get to give the award in person, and it's nice theater!
In case you think this looks familiar, you're right! It's "Issie's Trailer Court." We've been working on it since 1998! And now it's nearing completion, for real! It got new side panels this year, and the background is all quilted. Since I took this photo, I flipped the moon over and put a face on it. And now I'm making four more trailers, for the cats who were homeless in this piece before! By the end of Summer, it'll be DONE!!!! And we'll have a reason for a gigantic party!!!!
A lot of other art has been made since the start of this quilt, but it's been nice to have this ongoing project as an anchor. I truly think, once it's done, I want to start another project that takes three years to make!
How do you like it now, Issie?
I wasn't going to sell our greeting cards here on the site, but it seems people are having trouble finding them at stores. So I decided to give it a go. Check them out! This one is called "Sweet Mysteries of Life," and is blank inside. Its image is a small quilted and heavily embroidered piece of ours. There's also a get-well card, a quilters' blessing card (both of these are St. Quilta pieces), the first three Kitchen Tarot cards, and a Valentine. All are photo images of our quilts.
This isn't a new piece. It's "Rainbow Garden, " our piece in Quilt National '99. I just wanted to put it in now, since I found out recently that I didn't have any pix of it on the site, and because it reminds me of our real Rainbow Garden, waiting for the rest of its planting! This Summer I hope to get around to redoing our Gallery section of the site and putting a lot more quilt images, like this one, into it.
So far this year, no groundhogs in the garden, making it necessary to live-trap. But then, so far this year, there's nothing to eat in there! If you plant it, they will come!
I hope you've enjoyed this diary entry and will come check out the next one on or around July 24!
Bye for now. Happy weeding! Lucky
If you like, go to Page One of this diary entry.
Turtle Moon Studios
Susan Shie and James Acord
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