Note: I may have done this all wrong, but this post begins at the BOTTOM...


Only when it was too late, did my thinking get hung up on the fact that 1) it is just one color, 2) I couldn't really think how to get the kind of blending one can get with say smudging, washes, or in the case of quiltmaking, added stitching; and 3) my quilt making practice involves adding images, quilting or embroidery at different stages. This B&W thing is, well, black and white.



So here is the woodcut so far.


BIG INK wouldn't release the instruction videos it offers until acceptance, so I was working largely in the dark. But based on the release of two initial videos about what wood to use and why, I realized that I had to order shina - from the West coast, at considerable expense. But I'm glad I did, because it IS easier on my hands. A week later BIG INK released the rest of its videos, and based on that I did more tests.


Upon acceptance I made a giant bench hook from my scrap pile.


Felt I needed to deal with all the white space, so imagining cut lines made by not carving out all the background, this is what I submitted.



Then I looked for shina plywood, which is commonly preferred by woodcutters, but the closest source I could find was at Dick Blick which sold "craft" plywood. It was easier, but still had problems with the detail I wanted. I debated whether to submit or not with these dubious results, but I took the plunge. Change is good, no?



However, before I decided to actually submit, I wanted to see how my idea would actually carve. Found some woodcutting videos onlne, had some scrap finish plywood on hand so I started on that to test out some of the images I wanted to use. As it splintered easily I had to cut with a knife around the edges for a clean line, which was hard on my hand.


Then I opened the photo in Procreate on my iPad, cleaned up the shadows and added some loopy lines.

Last year I was invited to submit a design for a giant black and white woodcut by BIG INK, a roving large print organization that brings its giant press to various venues. I saw that it was coming to Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center in Hyattsville, MD in November 2019 so I thought I'd give it a try. I was busy all year with working on my art inventory but I kept thinking about BIG INK's September 9 submission deadline. Finally I set the inventory aside in August and began designing, in the way that I do, with scanned, photographed, traced images as well as a rogue drawing. I printed and pinned these on the wall and shot it with my phone.

Because this 12-foot wide painting resides in my living room, I always look at it. It's a work that precurses my transition to quiltmaking with its emphasis on patterning. Eventually the checkered "bush" suggested patchwork which, decades later, I made into an actual quilt. I also thought of the studies that Jasper Johns did in prints of earlier paintings. Perhaps a  way of reconsidering or a cannibalism of one's own work.

 April 5, 2018


 It took three years, working on it between several home remodeling projects (pesky little time consuming endeavors). Titled Dedicated to Cheese for No Reason, after one contributor's caption, I give you a recap (in rough snaps):


Here is the earliest stage that I documented, showing the original black and white drawings of the contributors at the 2015 retirement exhibition with tracings of things I planned to add, as well as various elements I planned to appliqué.



A later stage, where I began to color in the contributors' drawings (a better snap), and much of the hand appliqué is completed:

Here much of the quilting—and trapunto (stuffed work) and embroidery is done:

Quilting and embroidery nearly complete:


It's a raucous hodge podge that I resorted to in an attempt to exact some kind of unity. In so doing I think I have finally achieved excess. See the Gallery (Recent Work) for the final result and its Study.

August 17, 2016


So all I've been doing since the excellent Artist Residency is—remodel (and remodel) my one and only 60-year-old bathroom. The first guy I hired did do good plumbing, replacing ALL my plumbing in my little doll house, but things didn't work out so well after that. My neighbor, Dale, who helped me remodel my kitchen 6 years ago—and who I should've hired for this in the first place, stepped in and together we redid the work that needed to be done. Dale could only work parttime-evenings and weekends, but was plagued with injuries from his day job, and just as we were getting ready, finally, to put in the floor before installing the fixtures, he fell on the job and broke his foot. My heart goes out to all those hardworking tradespeople who get really beat up doing the work they do. Luckily for me the husband of an artist friend had just quit his construction job and was free to work immediately. And in one short week we had it finished, including the only creative work I've done since the end of my residency on Feb 28, a patchwork "quilt" tile floor. January 11 to minutes before my cataract surgery on August 8. I don't ever want to see blue tape again, nor set another tile.


As I said, the bathroom (and all the house clean up) was completed minutes before my baby sister drove me off to get cataract surgery on my left eye, August 8. A week later my big sister drove me to get the other eye done yesterday, August 15. And because the doctor required that they each stay with me for 24 hours afterwards, I considered their generous help to be my birthday present.


For the first time in 56 years I could finally see my own face in the mirror without glasses. Too bad that cute little 12 year old didn't appreciate what she was losing. O well, all's well that ends well, no? And the colors! After the 1st eye was done, I could compare what was snow white to the dirty ivory the other eye saw. Ulp. Sure hope I didn't steer my last color theory students wrong. Doctor said that I got cataracts due to some steroid shots I had in 2012.


So, for now, I can see distances without glasses, though I may have to have glasses to correct for astigmatism in a few weeks.


And with my new readers


And this is what I'm supposed to wear when I sleep—super fly!




Racing to finish as much as I could before my time at the 39th Street Artist in Residency was over. This just gives you a taste of how long it takes to make a quilt. Though to be fair, this one is bursting at the seams, so to speak, with ideas, techniques and just plain labor.


THE STUDY Testing out assorted approaches to all those words, aptly called by one observer, a giant retirement card.


Then more things added to the main work. See if you can tell what was done. Hint—all those little smiley faces are first hand appliquéd; then the fabric behind slit open to stuff them; then the slit is stitched back together; when basting the sandwich together, separate basting is done around each stuffed smiley face (count them...). White items, like Akemi's Daruma, included the additional step of basting a backing fabric to the top image, then the slit, stuffing, etc., so that before it is quilted together there are TWO lines of basting to remove after quilting. Soooo, after four months this is as far as I got. I'm guessing that if I kept at it right now, it would take at least a couple more months to complete. Unfortunately, I did the residency at the expense of other activities that now require my attention. But stayed tuned, I WILL finish it. 


And I want to extend my thanks to John Paradiso, and all the fab artists I got to hang with during this utterly fun stretch.

Before I dive into quilting the big piece, I usually make a small version of it with the same fabric, and as many similar features as the big one, emphasizing details that I want the most practice on.

The 39th St Gallery location is wonderful—except when it comes to making the quilt sandwich, i.e., basting together the combined layers of the quilt top, the batting and the backing. Especially for a quilt this size, about 5 x 4 feet, it has to be stretched out on the the floor since I don't have a surface big enough, but not at 39th St--it needs to be spotless, and it can't be the concrete that exists there. To baste a sandwich together of this size means that I stretch out the backing face down to the floor and secure it with painter's tape, and the basting takes 10 to 15 hours. Concrete absorbs too much moisture for the tape to hold, and even if it could hold, there is the risk of mold. So I took everything home to my own studio.



I also began to realize that one way to tackle this jumble of words and doodles is... to color it in. Eureka! It's a coloring book! I hope none of the contributors mind. Think of it as a collaboration.