Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finding a Studio Space

Every few years I have had to find a new studio space in San Francisco. It could be worse, but given the latest real estate boom, cheap space is just unavailable around here. I end up hunting and pulling strings and seeking the best possible deal.The best possible deal often ends up being something provisional and, eventually, something that disappears. So I am on the hunt again.

This time, however, I would love to find a place where it is not provisional and where I could settle in for a long time. The good thing about moving is the inevitable purge that goes along with leaving a place. I am not a hoarder, but I cannot walk past a handmade textile. So I end up with random unfinished embroideries form Nepal, mostly worn out quilts from India, Mexican weavings still on the frame, acrylic yarn needlepoint from 1972, all kinds of afghans and quilt tops. I end up with odd lots of thread and floss, funny books on creativity, bias tape by the bushel and fabric that goes into my "unsuitable but cool" pile. When I am faced with the idea of putting all these in boxes and carrying them down five flights of steps and up three more, the idea of finding the stuff a new home becomes highly appealing. 

The bad thing about moving is the disruption in my work. I have been on the road for a couple of months, and now I do not want to start a new project until I get moved. 

Oh well. I have loved my current studio, and every day there has been a gift. So I am going to try to relax and hope for the best here. The picture above is one possibility, and it is closer to my home than my current space. 

My wife has pointed out that each new studio brings big changes to my work. I wonder what changes the next one will bring?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Craftsy Class

Having successfully avoided all kinds of new technologies, new social thingamabobs and that sort of malarky, I finally gave in to the peer pressure from all the quilt teachers I know and signed up to do a Craftsy class, or project, or series. A show. What I found was that those Craftsy people are very smart and I would not be surprised if they ended up doing something really great, like taking over Detroit and fixing its finances.

Anyway, they treated me like my last name was Presley. And they let me teach the class I wanted to teach in my own way, on my own terms. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work and a lot to learn before ther launch date, which is TOMORROW!! Oy. So I am doing my homework, trying to learn how to interact with students online, how to check in every morning.

The class is called Pattern-free Quiltmaking, and it is exactly that: how to make a quilt without pattern pieces, but with different processes that  give you controllable, unique results. This is the kind of thing I do all the time. When I decide to strew a bunch of black bias "sticks" across a white field, I am using a process, a one-step process. Each invdividual stick copntributes to the whole, but each individual stick can be applied as I wish, spontaneously. I have made a lot of quilts like this, where I just dop the same thing over and over until I decide the quilt is done. Incredibly, Craftsy let me teach this.

They have a great online platform that lets you ask questions of the teacher, post pics and talk to other students about what you are doing. I am curious to hear what you think of the program and of the company. If you are reading this May 20-30, you can enter the contest to win a free class, right here

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Life On The Road

I left San Francisco for three weeks in April for various work dates, from Gees Bend to Atlanta to Sarasota and Denver, stayed home for a week or so, then headed out for my East Coast tour May 1. Since May 1 I have been talking and teaching and meeting with people almost non-stop, and have now passed the midpoint of this three-week trip. It has been a ball, it has been intense, and it has been  a lot of driving, but it has never been boring.

Why, just the salad oil stains I have managed to inflict on three of my new shirts have been exciting, especially when I tried to wash them off during a lecture. When I had back to back video shoots for PBS and Craftsy in my schedule, my wife took me to Nordstrom's and helped me pick out five new shirts, which I have worn every day for six weeks now, cycling through them so as to keep each one as fresh as possible. Finally in Brooklyn this week I took them all to a shirt laundry and had them cleaned, so I would look and feel fresh for the rest of my trip. The next night I went to dinner with guild members before my lecture and dripped salad dressing down the front of the first one. Perfect! A big stain on my shirt for my lecture! The following evening I went to dinner in clean shirt number two and slathered some nice balsamic vinaigrette down the front. The next morning I donned shirt number three, just in time to have a little something squirt out of my ham and cheese croissant, DOWN THE FRONT.

At the next lecture I hustled into the kitchen of the community center, squirted some dish soap onto a sponge and tried to scrub and rinse all three.  This, of course, was in a large room full of women, who all had advice for me: "Use shampoo!", "Hang them outside and they will dry by the time you are done." Indeed, they were--dry enough to see the water stains where I had not rinsed properly.

Oh boy, was I careful with that caesar salad tonight. I'm sure my dinner companions wondered why I was holding the fork by the very end, leaning over my plate and carefully inserting each forkful in my mouth.

I brought more books than I could ever possibly sell, and ran out on lecture number two. Now all the quilters are mad at me for having no books.

Today is not only Mother's Day, but also the day before my 18th anniversary. "You are going to be gone Mother's Day AND our anniversary?" my wife inquired at one point. I could see something behind her eyes that looked like...I am not sure what. Seemed like math of some sort.

Fortunately, meeting new quilters, seeing the personality of each new guild, teaching classes that get people to do things they never thought they could do--it is all fun. One more week til I fly home, and this time get to stay there for a while. Maybe I will get to make a new quilt this year yet.