Tuesday, December 22, 2009

make do

Work and family worries conspired to keep us from buying a tree this year. My girl, bless her, hauled out the holiday box herself and set to hanging lights around the windows and doorways instead. Then she got out the wee Christmas tree, once a gift from Santa to the American Girl dolls, and began to set up an arrangement on the coffee table. This is usually my place to spread my paperwork and to-do piles. I feel much better about it, covered with lights, gifts, and the best, most loved ornaments of the past 30 years.

Today the goddess of abandoned treasures left a fresh Christmas wreath on top of someone's trash pile. So now we are all decked out, free of charge.

The day after Christmas I drive solo down to Lancaster PA. I've been on the phone with moving companies, guys who just haul stuff, and folks who help to haul stuff away. The consensus seems to be there's no affordable way to get one piece of furniture (adorable love seat) from Lancaster to Poughkeepsie if you don't have your own van to move it in. Not to mention some nice strong friends to carry it up and down the stairs.

I've spent phone time and paperwork, too, to track down investments made 30 years ago, when I was in computers. Back, back, before the internet, before CDs; back when floppy disks were hot technology, and the personal computer had a black screen with a green cursor. I feel simultaneously productive and old. Somehow I've become the person who mails boxes of fruit for Christmas and runs after the daughter with the almost-forgotten lunch box.

A few weeks before she died, my grandmother told me "I don't know how I became 80. Inside I'm still 25." Maybe after we die we get to meet all those 25-year-old selves of folks we loved.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This piece is fabric mounted on stretched canvas. Increasingly I seek the image which speaks for itself. I feel nervous, stepping out into new territory, but eager to explore.

This piece sold over the weekend, so I will have to find another for the upcoming Loading Dock Gallery show, 50 under $50.

Today I go to two libraries to pick up books (about teaching and painting) and the 3rd season of Battlestar Gallactica on DVD. (My daughter and I have been waiting since August to watch this.) Then I drop off work at the photographer's and come home to mix up cookie dough.

I must also finish plans for my return to Lancaster PA in a week. My mom is moving to skilled care. I do not want to spend my holidays away from my family. I do not want to pack up, take or give away my mom's possessions. But that's what I'm doing after Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Show Time

Lowell Fiber Studio is all polished up and waiting for visitors this weekend. Our doors will be open from noon until 5, Saturday and Sunday. One amazing fact of sharing a studio is the ability to be in two places (almost) at once. I'm in Poughkeepsie this weekend, while my studio-mates hold down the fort in Lowell. People continually express amazement that we cooperate like this, but the miracle just keeps on happening.

Today I roared around, dropping things off, picking things up, and generally giving my credit card a workout at the Art Supply store. Lots of new journals to cover and frames to fill, but right now it's time to walk the dog (again!) and then head west to join my sister.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today the Boston Globe offers a peek into the work behind one of those exquisite embroidered jackets from the 1700's. Click on the photo and check out that hand-made gold lace edging. This reproduction included research into hand-make gold sequins (did you know the Museum of Fine Arts has its own blacksmith?) and hand-stitching by hundreds of volunteers. For details of the process, browse the Plimouth Plantation embroidrey blog.

Time to walk the dog, then finish pins, then pack for Poughkeepsie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"O We Like Sheep..."

My daughter heard the Messiah in full this week for the first time and was blown away. So gratifying to see another generation discover beauty. I in turn accompanied her Latin class to the annual Latin Carol Festival in Providence, RI. This Virgil passage about the coming Golden Age was my favorite:

"No longer will wool learn falsehood by being dyed different colors, but in the fields the ram himself will change the color of his fleece, now with sweetly blushing purple, now with yellow saffron; of its own will shall scarlet clothe the grazing lambs."

I love that.

Must go wash out the next dozen scarves I dyed and see what they look like. Two shows this weekend: Lowell Open Studios and a home show in Poughkeepsie.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


I painted and printed all last week.
The scarves are 72" long. The wide ones (22") make a dramatic statement tossed over a shoulder!
Half of the scarves went today to the Weston Arts and Crafts Association Holiday Show. This intimate (two-room) show is always a pleasure. The rest of my scarves now hang in Studio 512 at Western Avenue.
Doors open at noon on Saturday. With over 160 artists in the building, it promises to be a wonderful day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday shows

My work will be for sale this weekend in two locations. The Weston Arts and Crafts Association hosts a lovely show each year at the Josiah Smith Barn. They'll have some of my new scarves as well as Essential Bags and art for the wall.

Saturday and Sunday I'll be at Lowell Fiber Studios, room 512, for our Holilday Open Studios. Come by for hot cider and cookies; stop to make an ornament out of felt, or just browse our latest work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Many pots, one burner

Concentration, L. Dunn 2009

Slowly the pile of notebooks regrows. Still need to dye, print, make pins. Three holiday shows in two weeks. Where are those mice who sew for you after dark?

I taught my Alzheimer's class today. Everyone focused. Only one student wandered away. They did not notice the fire drill. People painted with fierce attention. The encouragement of others made them smile. I stayed late to hang their paintings in the classroom.

Lots of inspiration in the house. From the library: Lisa Cyr's Art Revolution plus an arm-load of books about watercolor.
From the postman, my very own copy of Rayna Gillman's Create Your Own Handprinted Fabric. I am ready to go throw paint around. But first I will make cookies for the high-school drama kids, who work until 10 pm every night this week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crit Request

On the wall now:
Too many birds? Circles? I think I need to wash over some of the circles with pale blue or white to tone them down. Also perhaps I will add weight on the left. What goes in the bottom right corner? Something warm, perhaps, to echo the top right, and the right hand tree.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Breakfast Crisis and New Vocabulary

From the Globe Business section today comes news of the impending frozen waffle shortage.
Also worth a visit today, an article about alternative swear words. I vow to add "Hooshtah!" to my conversation.

I want to sew, but today is vacuuming, cooking, and doing the household books. Bah humbug. So I am reading movie reviews instead. I did draw in the kitchen last night , with "Says You" for company.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Advice from the Masters

"Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow - whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward..."

"I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don't show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward. " - Kurt Vonnegut

Inspired by this, I took an arm-load of pieces to the big studio and worked. Caffeine, music, think, sew. Five hours later I have two pieces on the design wall and at least four pieced and ready for the next step. No wonder I've felt restless:

And from Annie Dillard, remembered by Alexander Chee: “You are the only one of you...Your unique perspective, at this time, in our age... is what matters. Don’t worry about being original...Yes, everything’s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write. Otherwise it would already exist. You writing it makes it possible.”

Still wish someone else would make supper...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

enough of time away

Desultory day - weird heat, grey skies. I pinned and repinned Deer Moon up at the big studio. Got good input from friends and finally left in on the idea wall to sulk, or stew, or something. Hope to get up there and work it out on Thursday. Folks were restless at my teaching job too.

At home I am trying to make our small space feel less overwhelmed with My Stuff - always a problem right before the holiday sales. Digging and sorting I stumbled back on this idea, one of those "evening-before-the-show" brainstorms back in October.

They are pins, about 2 inches on a side. I sewed the collages from tiny scraps of hand-dyed and -printed fabrics. I think they have an air of loneliness about them. The photos are from a class picture my father was in, nearly a hundred years ago.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Show

This Saturday I worked my favorite show, at the Concord First Parish Church. Everyone is so generous and happy to be there. Pardon my fuzzy pictures. A woman asked if I would like the box of hand-crocheted pieces her mother left behind. Many people liked new wee bags and note-minders, my name for the tiny portfolios. And two people bought mounted, modestly-priced art, which raised my spirits. Today I'm drifting around - always happens after such focus. The weather is bizarre and beautiful - nearly 70. So I am going to go buy flowers for my students to paint tomorrow, and bulbs for me to put into the ground today.

I have a couple dozen scarves to dye and t-shirts to print, so after this blissful break, I must get back into the big studio and work.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Speed Tour

Adrien Bisson, who's photographed some of my work, made a video "tour" of Western Avenue studios. Lowell Fiber Studios zooms past about half way through.

Oooo makes me wish I were up there printing and dyeing right now. Instead I'm shivering, drinking quantities of tea, sleeping like Rip Van Winkle, and wondering if this is The Flu or just What's Going Around.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October art

This morning's work. Working title is "Deer Moon." The deer were printed on silk ages ago. I just got up the nerve to cut them out and move them to other fabrics.
I finished a second round of t-shirts this week. This set is autumnal, an echo of the last yellows and reds outside. The cat, grumpy because rain drove her in, decided my work made a fine cushion:
She does not stay in long, because the dog finds everything she does so interesting:

Today I'm under the weather (flu? Cold? Who knows?). I think I need to crop the deer piece to make it narrower. God bless Photoshop:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My tidy-fit continues. Anyone who knows me might be tempted to check for a fever. Two large bags of scraps await pickup on the porch. Wonderful bits of hand-dye and lace are being repackaged as Craft Kits for resale.

I am turning the smallest scraps I love into tiny notebook covers. I love the clean lines, like a picture frame in miniature, and functional.
Each starts with one piece of high-quality upholstery fabric. A grace note of hand-printed fabric plus quotation on the front, then a tidy lining, the corners all folded, two pockets, and an elastic to hold it closed.Simplify. Simplify.
I'm tickled to have at last figured out how to stitch them together with one seam. Once I finish my paperwork (taxes, filing, mom's hospital bills) and teach (Alzheimer's patients today) I will make more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Small to Large

The scraps of fabric were up to my waist, so I started making wee bags from the smallest. It feels glorious to see them become functional.I love this deer: it was the test piece, on a rough old linen napkin, when I was printing t-shirts the other week.
After a couple of days of this I was ready to tackle the big piece that has been brewing on the design wall.I ironed and arranged - I like the bottom corner. With the miracle of Photoshop I have a test plan to work on tomorrow:

Friday, October 9, 2009

New work for Next Show

I've been working with birds again.

The idea of object and context, near and distant vision absorbs me. Narrative, time, the question of perspective: where you stand and where you've been changes what you see.

Meanwhile, like Jacob and the angel, I wrestled with scanner and software, and turned original collages into cards I can print myself. Wohoo!

All these will be available tomorrow at the RISD alumni sale.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Work

This piece tumbled out last weekend, when I did two marathon printing sessions as part of Lowell Open Studios. Many thanks to friends and colleagues who came to watch.

Here are two results from that session. They began with the same image. With colored pencil , I shifted hues, brought out details, and added depth.

Pick up your heart


Tuesday I printed two dozen t-shirts for RISD sale. They must have come out well because my teenage daughter made off with two of them. Yesterday I unrolled my yardage from the weekend. I cropped, sorted, stitched. Several pieces are now mounted and ready for the RISD next Saturday October 10.


Others want larger treatment. My walls are covered with snippets and ideas. Wonderful feeling.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I have gone quiet, like a submarine.

I gave up the computer for a week while on vacation. That stillness has carried over into my Fall.

Here is a nest, built around an apple. Photos from the Cape and other local wonders. At the studio, much cleaning of supplies and soul. New work soon.