Monday, December 28, 2009

Snowdrifts around town

Drifts across Bohemian Hiway one block south of our house.
Digging out at the main entrance of the school.
Front of Tyndall Good Samaritan Center
Main Street Piles in front of A & A Gallery

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Blizzard 2009

We are enjoying a rare vacation as the result of a three day blizzard. We will know it's over when the snow plow opens our driveway. Pictures of the weather can't really do it justice--it's mostly a white-out with single digit temps and 40 mph winds.

Vintage Santa Visits Art & Antique Gallery

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remember when patterns were a quarter?

A couple years ago I was given a collection of dress patterns. It turned out that they were part of a costumer's collection from SD University theatre dept.

Mostly Simplicity and McCalls, but some Vogue, Butterick, and then about 10 patterns for actual classical costumes. One dates back to before 1920. Then a few from the thirties and forties. Twenty or so from the fifties. About 10 that I remember sewing for myself in the sixties and seventies.

There are 6 crates of patterns all together. It is great fun to look back at the illustrations on the envelopes and relive the hippie fashions of my college days. Vogue designs cost $ . 75 three times as much as Simplicity. There is even a pattern for gloves so you can match your ensemble.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I go to a lot of sales and auctions (or did before I got on the internet). These cards were in with a lot of postcards collected in Mexico, Cuba, and overseas. The man had traveled extensively and had many souvenirs from Japan, China, etc, all from the early days of the 1900's. I enjoy postcards so much and have about 300 early valentines, christmas cards, new year's card, birthday card, joke cards. I have always planned to use them in art work when I can find a good transfer method. Thank goodness for scanners and printers. Technology finally caught up with my dreams. The little town I live in has few supplies and I have to rely on my ingenuity.

A friend needs a graduation present. She has earned her Master of Social Work and works with chronically homeless people. Something special is in order and so it is a kind of a special occasion card for a very special person who looks beyond the surface. She won't be put off by the subject matter or its sadness. So I have built my first canvas book using transfer images, acrylic paint, handmade papers, and various embellishments.

The images can be enlarged to see details in the text. Please be advised that they may be disturbing to victorian sensibilities. You know who you are. Don't go there.

The bordello beauties piece transports us to the turn of the century and women's realities. Even in the wholesome prairie midwest, young women with illegitimate children were dowried into marriage by their fathers who were religious leaders in their communities. It happened in my family. There is nothing new under the sun and the world has been filled with misery since the beginnings of time. It is for us to make a difference one day and one person at a time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

thinking about a hundred years ago

The 2009 July 4 Burtz family reunion celebrated 100 years since Charles & Julia Hanson Burtz moved from Fremont, Nebraska, to their homestead in northern Tripp County, South Dakota. The railroad ended at Dallas which is where the land drawing was held. It was a four day trip by ox and wagon from Dallas to the site of the homestead.

They raised their own chickens, milked their own cows, butchered their own pigs, and grew wheat for flour. They also raised seven children. The nearest supplies were two days away. It was a trip made only once or twice a year by Charles.

Julia's wedding dress is in the Gibson girl style. It would have been constructed on a corseted shaped dress form similar to this one, pictured in its collapsed down attitude. The framework on the bottom opens to support the long skirt shape. Ladies hadn't even thought of trousers although they would have come in handy most every day.

Several years later, they built a small house, but there was no electricity, no telephone, no radio. Chores like separating milk were done outside in the sunshine utilizing a pressed back kitchen chair.

The White River flooded every spring and forced them to camp on higher ground until the waters receded. Finally in 1920 Julia said she wasn't going back to the river bottom and Charles moved the household up the hill to the flat prairie. She was a very patient woman. Can we even imagine their daily life?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

this is my jungle, welcome to it

The yard is thriving with all the humidity and rain. Today's pictures feature the six foot flower stalk of a yucca plant that's never had it so good and the trumpet vine whose blossoms are showy and worthy of admiration. It's a love-hate relationship and it is now volunteering all around the house. I cut it back severely to keep it from growing into the siding and shingles of the house. I hope some hummingbirds find it.

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity beginning with an annual visit from the state surveyors at work and from my son Erik and wife Nancie from Madison, WI. We had several family dinners including my sixty second (it lasted longer than that) birthday party which also featured an evening musicale. Then on July 4 we went to western SD to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the family ranch and homesteading in Tripp County. Erik and Nancie returned to WI and we all went back to work. In another month we will be ready for visitors from Connecticut and New York City. This is the stuff that keeps us warm all winter.

Haven't had a minute to sew, but tomorrow is reserved for the studio. So I plan to accomplish a lot.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

weaving hints continued

6. Place a finger on the middle and start raising the warp strip working toward the right --over, under, etc. Push the straight edge up to the boundary and touch it with the iron to hold it in position. Then continue to work from the center to the left edge--over, under, etc. Cover this row with your paper and iron selectively to tack everything down.

7. Cut the next wavey weft. Lay it on the warp and match up the fabric pattern with the previous row. It should match exactly. Again place a finger on the middle and weave this row right up against the previous row working to the right and then to the left. Again cover your work with paper and tack down.

8. Repeat with the rest of the weft, leaving no gaps between rows. When finished sandwich the whole piece between the papers and iron on both sides to really seal it. Allow to cool. Select the best area of the piece and cut your 8 1/2 x 11 inch rectangle. Enjoy.

Weaving hints

I've had a couple of inquiries as to how I weave my batiks. It's very simple.

1. Select two different colored fabrics. Cut pieces about 10x12 inches.

2. Iron each piece to some paper backed fusing. I use the stuff that comes in a ten yard roll at a big box store and costs about $1/yd.

3. Peel the paper off the fabric when it's cool. Save the paper to use one as a pressing cloth and the other as an ironing board protector.

4. Lay the fabric in a landscape orientation. Freehand cut the first piece with vertical wavy lines. Leave about 1/4 inch border at the top to hold all the strips in order and position. Place on top of saved paper.

5. Cut the second (weft) piece one strip at a time. Starting at the top of the first piece, lay the weft strip across.

Woven batiks practice

Had an interesting day in the studio yesterday. Besides some remarkable customers, I finished two backgrounds for my fiber art journal project. These are 8 1/2 by 11 inches.

I stacked two pieces of this fabric and wove them to get this

Here's another background where I used two completely different fabrics

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

See what I mean?

Pug gone wild

My daughter's dog, Bob, lives in Austin, TX. Sometimes his secret extra-curricular projects catch up with him. He's on at least his fourth career now. From private detective with a Ph.D. in canine sleep habits, to roller blade groupie, to online cigar salesman, now a music promoter and club owner. How much more trouble can a pug get into?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flying Geese ready to fly

It's a generous queen size that sat in a UFO stack for two years. In order to celebrate Independence Day, I finished it. Now I need to figure out how to take a good picture of it. A couple of tall friends would help. It feels great to have a finished product. I should do this more often. On to the next UFO.

Czech Days Celebration-Tabor SD

A little town hosts a big three day party every year. Crowds gather for a parade, traditional food, music, Beseda dancing, polka, and reunions. We took 25 residents to watch the festivities and enjoy the parade. It was so much fun!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A very weathered Hoosier cabinet top is angled across another corner. It sits on a repurposed kitchen cabinet base that I attached heavy casters to and filled with eight storage tubs.

The table in the foreground is another cabinet base on wheels covered with an old brown enamel countertop. It also holds eight storage tubs of various sizes. This table is used for cutting and assembly.

A special cupboard rescued from the basement of the house I grew up in now holds part of my stash in my quilting studio.

These pictures show my quilting studio in our restored building on Main St. known as the Art & Antique Gallery. I have an 18x20 foot room on the second floor adjoining my mom's apartment. This corner shows my two thread cabinets and part of my design wall. The cluttered table in the foreground is a 4x4 cabinet on wheels that my sewing machine and serger call home.
I love genealogy and in my research I've found some juicy stories that reflect poorly on some ancestors, but I tell them anyway, it's what will make the next generation interested. Everyone was not perfect and young people get impatient and skeptical when previous generations are presented as such. I would rather my kids remember the struggles that that their foremothers triumphed over; illigitimate children, polygamous marriages, daughters promised in marriage to stepfathers, and pipe smoking grandmas included. Nothing is gained by forgetting or omitting. Now my children know that they are from strong stock and they too can handle everyday ups and downs.
Now we are right in the middle of Czech Days. This is a three day party in Tabor, a small neighboring town. Today a group of staff volunteers and I are taking about 30 residents to the big parade. These are all fragile elderly who can't walk by themselves, most need wheelchairs, but are going in regular vehicles and then sitting in lawn chairs by the road. So they all have to be assisted by two helpers to their seats and then shaded with umbrellas, given drinks of water, and monitored for health problems and sun burn and heat stroke, etc. It is a very strenuous affair for all of us, but worth it for all the old friends they see in the parade and along the route. It is like a big family reunion and most of these residents are the great, great grandmas, great aunties, cousins, and old neighbors of everybody. Lots of beautiful Czech costumes, lace, embroidery, and ribbons. That's my favorite part.

I received a 60 inch 30 yard bolt of PFD Kona cotton from Dharma about a week ago. I can't wait to cut into it. Where to start? That's what I'm daydreaming about. Finished a large patriotic colored quilt binding yesterday.

Growing up in the fifties I learned crochet from my grandmother, sewing from my mother, and knitting from a neighbor.

In the sixties I got my degree in psychology and education, married, worked as counselor and disability specialist for social security. I did macrame, hairpin lace and broomstick lace on my noon breaks.

In the seventies, I put my husband through dental school and we took classes in weaving, spinning, and dyeing. He built several looms and spinning wheels for me. We moved to a very small town in rural South Dakota where we raised two kids and had angora rabbits for 4-H projects. I pulled hats out of rabbits, gave piano lessons, collected antiques at farm sales, demonstrated pioneer crafts and continued to sew.

In the eighties, I returned to full time work as an activity coordinator in a 71 bed nursing home. I became a certified master gardener in order to provide a more natural environment for my residents and to involve them in projects that they had enjoyed at home. I used my music, art, counseling, and crafting as if I had been preparing for this job my entire life.

Through the nineties I learned batik and silk painting and studied garment construction with hand wovens. I took drawing lessons and saw my kids off to college. My brother and his wife, Judy, retired from the Air Force and moved close to us. Judy has enjoyed a long career as a potter and visual artist and she needed a studio to pursue her interests.

In 1999 we bought a hundred year old brick building on main street and opened the Art and Antique Gallery as an empty nest project. She was the art. I was the antique. We gutted, restored, painted, and polished and our building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. We had a gallery and a studio. Judy also taught classes and did custom framing and matting. We mentored several youngsters and provided a meeting place for area artists. My mom asked us to build her an apartment in the second floor above the studio. She moved in several years ago and we love having her as an integral part of our lives and our business. At 85 she still enjoys quilting and visiting our studio.

With the millennium, I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and started journaling. I wrote a "bucket list" and traveled to Italy, Greece, France, and England. My brother and I studied lampworking and put a bead bench in the studio where we made soft glass and borosilicate beads in several styles. I began designing jewelry and studying textile techniques in sterling wire. In 2007 I happened to visit the International Quilt Show in Houston and spent 5 days haunting the aisles of vendors and exhibits. The journal quilting project was a revelation of biblical proportions to me. Here was a foremat which could encompass all my interests.

As I look to the future, I am accumulating electronic equipment (a Bernina Artista with embroidery module, a laptop, and a printer/scanner) I have another studio for these tools in my family room at home. My shared studio with Judy has become more of a painting, framing, classroom, library and lampwork studio. I have furnished another room on the second floor next to my mom's apartment for my fabric, thread and my antique sewing equipment collection.

The collections of my life have become an educational vehicle. Now I use my trunks and suitcases to present programs to small groups. Topics can vary from aprons to underwear, vintage needwork and lace, Lewis & Clark, trade beads, feed sacks, hats, shoes, jewelry, pioneer crafts, post cards, building restoration, silk dyeing techniques, sewing and fiber arts, to name just a few.

With the advent of hi speed internet, I am able to network with other artists who share my interests and I continue to learn something new everyday. I view my work at the nursing home as a religious calling. It includes helping people who are like family with end-of-life issues and providing a stimulating social environment for them. I get to use my art to bring pleasure to others. It is a beautiful life.