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Archive for September, 2005

Taking stock of work

Right. Interview over. Now to get back to workshop planning, show work, Christmas show work and Craft Fair stuff.

Workshop Planning – to have finished by this weekend, the write-ups for the fabric painting workshop and the landscape quilting workshop. Included in these write-ups will be:

  • materials provided by me list
  • materials for participants to bring list (mandatory and optional categories)
  • aims and goals of the workshop
  • philosophy/approach
  • any relevant preparation notes (i.e. wear old clothes when painting, think about what landscapes you might wish to paint fabric for, think about landscapes you would like to render in fabric, etc.)
  • contact information for further questions
  • a photo or two?
  • what you will get out of the workshop, both physically and artistically

I have some of it done, I just need to hammer out the stuff to bring and make sure I’m not forgetting anything. I also need to clarify in my own mind exactly how I’m going to structure the landscape quilting workshop, as there are two or three ways that it could go.

Show Work – working on the Foundations piece. Have the background layout mostly done.




Need to next work on the foreground, including the pillars, grasses, wildflowers and any other details.

Also need to start work on another piece real soon-like.

Christmas Show work – Comfort and Joy Show. Deadline for intent to enter: October 20. Deadline for submissions: November 14. My own arbitrary dealine for intent is by the end of this weekend and my self-imposed deadline for completion is mid-October, mainly because I know what I’m going to do and have already started fleshing out the ideas.

It’s going to be a set of three nesting boxes, with the outer one being the holder of a nativity scene and the inner -most one simply a decorated box holding the components. The middle box is still under debate. I might make it an outbuilding to the main scene or have it be totally different – a contemporary Christmas scene inside with St. John’s houses outside. Not entire sure on this yet! But work on the outer-most one has started. Pictures to be provided as soon as I have anything worth photographing!

Craft Fair – ongoing. Lots of small stuff to be completed around other things. Also, need to get Standards write-up done for bell ornaments and spider webs. Need to finish spiderweb prototype and complete spider!

Lots to be done….. just need time to do it!

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Journalists don’t bite

At least, the one who came to the house today didn’t. Stephanie Porter of The Independant dropped by with photographer Paul Daly to interview me for the paper. I know Stephanie from grade seven through twelve, those years that many of us would rather wash huge portions of right out of our memories. Stephanie was one of the smart, funny, nice people; attributes she seems to have kept since high school.

I’ve been agonising over this interview for a couple of weeks now, because it involved not only having me talk about my work (I can handle that), but also about my life and my choices. More immediately, it involved being photographed and cleaning house beforehand, both of which activities I loathe.

So John (bless his cotton-pickin’ shorts) tidied up last night while I steeled my nerves and attempted to run through things I wanted to have said, which pieces I wanted photographed and what had to be done in the morning before they got here.

Surprisingly, everything went really well. The dogs were fairly well-behaved. Katherine was pretty good and played with her clay during much of the interview. I ignored the photographer and dressed casually, having done little more than shower, brush and light makeup before they showed. The house, largely thanks to John, was fine. I vacuumed and did a little more tidying and wiping things down. I rehung a part of the icebergs triptych before they got here so that it was straight.

Besides that, Katherine and I did our normal morning thing. The interview lasted about 40 minutes from start to finish and went pretty smoothly, I think. Hopefully Stephanie thinks so, too.

It’ll be in next Sunday’s paper and I’ll try to blog on it when it appears.

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I don’t use as many beads in my work these days as I once did, but I suspect that I’ll start using more in the near future. These things go in cycles and the effect of beads is something that I use when I need the three dimensional sparkle and shimmer. I’m not one for all-over glitziness, so I don’t tend to put hours of beading into everything I do.

That said, I *do* use them and have a small, but growing collection.

Most of my beads I get locally, because, frankly, I hate ordering supplies online and I find that colours aren’t always a good match on the screen for the real-life objects. Plus shipping to Newfoundland is often just not worth it, unless the items in question are exactly what is called for.

My beads come from:

$$ (but good quality) Fashionable Fabrics – Located in Mount Pearl, they have a great selection of Japanese seed beads. For those of you who don’t know beads, the Japanese ones are generally more regular and the holes are more consistent in size. What this means is that you don’t have to throw as many out because the needle won’t go through. FF also has a fabulous selection of metalic embroidery threads.

$ (quality variable)Walmart – Yes, believe it or not, I do buy from Walmart (located everywhere). Not only do they have a pretty good selection, but their prices are reasonable for lower and middle quality stuff. If you know what you’re looking for and at, they’re not half bad. They also have really good white cotton sheeting for fabric painting and are open until 10. Don’t bother with their sewing machine needles, though!

$$$ (quality highly variable) Michael’s – Located in St. John’s in the Aberdeen Avenue Power Centre (who comes up with these names???), Michael’s has a lot of beads, reasonable selection and silly prices. I only shop there when I can’t get what I need elsewhere, as they overcharge for just about everything (except for those few cheap things that they use as customer draws, to lure you in). Prepare to spend at least $7-8 for a package of so-so beads. They do have lots of other stuff, too, for those looking for crafting supplies from other fields that might be useful. Selection in other areas highly variable. Lots of scrapbooking stuff, but mediocre doll and dollhouse making stuff (for instance). No fabric to speak of.

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Self-doubt and seriousness


suncatcher 8
Photos by VickyTH.

I have a sneaking suspicion that most of us walk around feeling vaguely insecure about something in our lives. In fact, I’d be mightily surprised if most people didn’t have several slightly wobbily pedestals that they feel can’t support their emotional weight. You hear about them all from time-to-time; weight, relationships, career direction, career ability, money habits (incoming and outgoing), sex, relationships, attire, etc. Nothing new there.

I also suspect that when people reach their thirties it starts to dawn on them that choices they have made by that point largely govern how the rest of their lives will play out. Sometimes it comes on gradually, with a dawning realisation that you have only so much time to work with and that you need to use it advantageously. Other times I figure it hits people suddenly and they snap. I have a feeling that those are the folks who feel trapped and make big changes like getting divorced, changing careers, going back to school, or, in extreme cases, doing nastily horrible things to the people they feel have somehow trapped them. (I’m not going to do any of the above, in case you were wondering.)

When you have a life’s plan and have to utterly rearrange it in such a way that that arrangement flies in the face of how you define yourself, the mental adjustments can be difficult. When you make those adjustments and then confront your thirties head-on, still further adjustments need to be made.

I had planned to be an academic. I thought of myself as an academic. All of my training and planning had been in the direction of being an academic. When my life derailed in 1999, I told myself I was postponing becoming an academic until John finished law school. After her finished, we were so heartily sick of living away from family and Newfoundland that we wanted more than anything to move back. We also were tired of living as students and we knew that wherever we went next was where we’d be for a good five years or more. So we made the purely emotional decision to move back to Newfoundland. John got a job here and I started developing my artistic skills and market and made a career switch.

I did think about going to do the PhD at that point and it was an option, but I came to realise that it entailed another three to five years of living somewhere else (likely Toronto, Hamilton or Montreal) and making a new life there. It also entailed John getting a job there and us withstanding an increased cost of living. Not to mention that the life of an academic upon finishing a doctorate entails still more moving around. I like travelling, but at this stage in my life, I can’t see myself as happy in the life of a university vagabond. I have too strong a sense of home.

So we moved here and I did a mental reroute and became an artist. Had this been the plan from the start and had I know this when we reached New Brunswick, I would have done a fine arts degree or somesuch. There was a College of Craft and Design there that would have been great. But now I work as a largely self-taught artist with two arts degrees that sort of make sense to me, but don’t entire fit to the rest of the world.

There is a large part of me that still regrets not having done the doctorate. This was my choice, however, and it’s not a door that is completely closed at this point. Becoming an academic with all that that entails is now less of an option, though, with Katherine, a house and a life here.

I enjoy the artwork, although like any job, there are aspects to it and days that are depressing, dull and aggravating. Finding time in and around everything else in this house is a challenge, but Katherine won’t be little forever.

So recently I’ve been really wondering if what I am now is what I want to be remembered as by my daughter. What do I want her to see in me and what will she take with her from my life? Not to mention how I want my artwork and career to look from the outside. Do I want to switch careers and go to something that makes more money, has a defined script and description and is comprehensible? I’ve been around this planet for thirty years now and have another thirty or more years of time to develop whatever it is that I want to define me. The hardest part is trying to figure out how I see myself and whether that has changed.

There’s also the little, unworthy element of me that looks around at my peers and even my husband and envies them their well-defined careers and roles. One should not be jealous of one’s spouse, but occasional glimmers of envy do happen from time to time.

So I have several options:
1. Find a different career and ditch artwork.
2. Find a different career and do artwork as a hobby, to whatever degree I want.
3. Become the best damned artist I can and stick with developing my current career further.
4. Sit on the fence for another few years until Katherine is in school and make a decision then.

The jury is still out.

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Progress?

I think I actually got some good (and not all progress is)progress made on the ornaments yesterday. I don’t actually have a prototype yet, but I think the majority of the design has been solidified and I’ve worked through any particular kinks.

I also got some stock finished, packaged, labelled and inventoried to go to the Devon House shop. My aim is to have that shop supplied for Christmas by the end of the month so that I don’t have to do the reprehensible thing of pulling most of my stock from the shop for the Craft Fair and dumping back what doesn’t sell three days later.They hate it when people do that as it makes a tonne of paperwork. Really, if you plan things at all, you shouldn’t have to put them through it and keeping your shopfolks happy is always a good thing, especially since they determine more or less where to display your stuff. Now I might have some extra stock to drop off after the fair, but that’s apparently easier to deal with for them.

So today it’s off the drawing board and onto the prototype table. I’m actually able to get some work done during the days lately with Katherine around. We decided that we don’t use the dining room enough at this point to keep it as such and have switched it back to a living room. The ex-living room is now my studio and our family room, where the dogs, TV, Katherine’s toys and John’s work are all welcome. All I have to do now is get Katherine a separate work table so that she can use her craft stuff with me, but not get glue all over my projects.

On a wierd note, I got home from the Kids in Safe Seats meeting last night and tried to use the phone. No dialtone. I pushed a few buttons and eventually got a dial tone, after half a minute or so. All the phones were the same. Very strange. Called Larry and his phone was the same way. Called Aliant and they informed me that it was due to the final of Canadian Idol and folks voting for some guy named Rex. Apparently the volume of calls within Newfoundland during the evening topped Christmas. Why is that somewhat disturbing?

There should be a webpage for people who don’t have cable or time to watch it with synopses of shows and ongoing plotlines so that we don’t have to look like dweebs in public conversation.

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It’s actually harder than it looks, especially if you don’t settle for the heel-kicking action. A good, solid instep kick in the behind is truly impossible to achieve for yourself, which is why most of us need a catalyst (really desperate cases need a catapult, but I’m not quite there yet).

Last week Sharon LeRiche from the Craft Council called and asked me if I was submitting an ornament for the Christmas fundraiser. I had been mulling around an idea for a new product anyway which might just fit the bill and told her so. I said I’d probably have something in the next week or so.

Life intervened. Melba the geriatric greyhound, had a rough week, I’ve been trying to get stuff made for the shop so that I don’t have to worry come November, the ideas from my last meeting with Laurie D. regarding our show are starting to bear fruit, John and I spent time planning and putting up the clothesline, and John had trial prep to do which necessitated long days of All Katherine, All the Time for me. Poor kid. So a week passed and the ornament went clean out of my head.

We dropped by my folks yesterday and Mom reminded me of the ornament. That I was supposed to have done. For last Friday. Shit.

Spent today panicking and trying to get some headway made on it. Life still wouldn’t go away. Dealt with a crapload of urgent Kids in Safe Seats stuff. Had a napless kid (arg). Remembered that Stephanie Porter is supposed to be calling me today or tomorrow to do an interview for The Independant THIS WEEK, meaning I need to have the house and some promo material ready for her. It’s going to be a busy night.

On the plus side, I finally found the template for the violin cover I was supposed to have made in April. I should be able to knock that into shape this evening during a break from designing.

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