Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How things can change ...

... in an instant. I am catching the next flight to Australia. Hang in there, Mum.

August 29

Drawn blind contour while creeping (very slowly!) on the freeway.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August 27

I didn't actually intend to spend the entire weekend sewing. But a week or so ago, inspired by Alicia, I'd offered to make Lauren a back-to-school dress, and she reminded me about it on Saturday morning. So off we went to the fabric store. Perusal of the pattern books did not locate any dress patterns she liked, but she was very taken with this "That's So Raven" suit. Even though it's way dressier -- and way more work -- than I had in mind, I ended up agreeing, especially when she was easily steered to a navy pinwale corduroy with pink polka dots.

Of course, nothing was simple. The smallest size pattern was too big for her, so there was much photocopying, reducing, and trial and error before we ended up with these three garments. The top is actually too small now -- she can barely get it on. I'm thinking a pink t-shirt might be just the ticket for the first day of school. After two solid days of working on this, I'm not sure I have the energy to make her a new top.

But hey, it looks good, doesn't it? Now, if I could just stop her growing for a year so she can get some wear out of it...

August 26

There's something really wrong with this guy. Can you see what it is?

Friday, August 25, 2006

August 25

I ache when I think of her.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24

I'm having a lovely evening alone in my studio. I don't know why I created such a sad girl -- probably because I don't know how to draw happy faces that don't look frozen or clownish.

This recent series has been created on covers torn from hard-cover books. This one -- some kind of Russian novel -- had a corrugated surface which has lent its texture to the finished item. I like it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

August 18

I'm posting this in honour of Sparky's Illustrated Poem Marathon. It's a tiny concertina book in a mini Altoid tin. The poem is by W.S. Merwin, a poet I'd never heard of until I read a few of his lines on a "Poetry in Motion" poster in a New York subway train. I was so struck by them, that as soon as I got off the train I found a bookstore and bought one of his poetry collections. Which just goes to show that do-gooders' attempts to shove culture down our throats actually work, in some instances.

Anyway, this poem is part of a longer piece called "Kore".

I have watched your smile in your sleep
and I know it is the boat
in which my sun rides under the earth
all night on the wave of your breath
no wonder the days grow short
and waking without you
is the beginning of winter

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17

I called Mum's ward, and got a man with a strong accent who said, I thought, "Your mother is sleeping now." When I got him to repeat it, he said, "My name is Sleeper (?) and I'm Helen's nurse." Turns out Mum was at the gym, which makes her sound much betterer than she really is.

I feel like a crumpled doily. Screwed up. Not doing my job of protecting delicate surfaces and looking pretty. And holey, definitely holey. Not sure how far I can take this analogy. I should probably stop now, and go to bed, which is where I want to be.

August 16

Rhea sent me a bunch of photos she thought I might like to use in my art. I've been having a great time playing with them. Here's one result (some of them I'm saving for gifts, so I can't post them yet).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

August 14

More cards. I'm liking this series a lot.

August 13

Lauren and I took the train down to Little Tokyo for the Tofu Festival. Here are some of our fellow Red Line travellers, drawn semi-blind-contour-with-train-jiggles.

Lauren's good company on outings like these. She loves taking public transport, she doesn't complain about walking in the heat, she's interested in different cultures, she doesn't nag me too badly to buy her stuff, and in general, she regards the day as an adventure. She is appreciative of the new experience and thanks me warmly at the end of it. What's not to love?

Oh, and she happens to love tofu. Can't ask for more than that. Right?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12

I showed Lauren how to make a colour wheel using cheap acrylic paints, and then we played with the resulting colours. She designed shoes, I designed clothing. A nice way to spend an hour with an 8 yr old.

Friday, August 11, 2006

August 11

My darling sister Annette has been at the hospital all day every day this week. She tells me that the hardest part is that Mum cannot communicate effectively. Everyone's listening, but Mum can't say what she wants to say. Yesterday Annette figured out, with a flash of inspiration, that Mum was asking for stronger pain killers for her arthritis. That's what her repetition of "Auntie, uncle, cousin" was all about. Can you imagine how horrible that must be, to be trapped inside a body that cannot convey your thoughts and words? Especially if you are really hurting?

Alison, bless her heart, delivered home grown daffodils to Mum this morning and reports: "She was sitting in a chair and seemed cheerful. She recognized you in the photo but her language was confused - not sure about her thoughts. I asked if Annette would be coming today - she recognized the name but couldn't give a sensible answer. Anyway I stroked her hand and told her how much you wished to be with her right now."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10

It may not be pretty, but it's today's creative effort.

I woke up still feeling bleah. I didn't have to go to work today, which left me at a loose end. Uninspired, unmotivated, I tried going back to bed after Josh left but even that was unproductive.

Then the kindness of two readers of this blog really lifted my spirits. Alison, who lives in the same city as my mother, offered to pick flowers from her father's garden and hand-deliver them to Mum in hospital. And Agnes from Canada sent me a long, comforting, informative email about her experiences with family members who have suffered strokes. Suddenly I lost my bleahs, and was ready to work.

A few days ago I bought Saving Dinner's first Mega Menu-Mailer, and this afternoon I shopped for, and prepared, 22 meals. Here they all are in my freezer. They aren't cooked, just prepped. The web site says it takes about 2 hours to prep these meals, but it took me over four and a half, and my legs are TIRED from all that standing.

But it's a good tired. Better than the bleah tired that had been weighing me down for the last two days. Thank you, my friends, for reaching out to me in kindness. I will pay it forward.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 9

I am still really down about my mum. I spoke to her on the phone last night -- my sister held the phone to her ear. I said, "Hello Mum!" and she replied "Good-bye dear".

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August 8

I got up this morning to an email from Australia saying that Mum has had a major stroke and is in hospital. I spoke with sister, who gave me the story to date. At first I was calm and resigned; I know that Mum is old and frail and will die soon. Josh called me after he left the house to check that I was feeling OK, and I said yes, of course ... but now it's hitting me. I want to see my mother while she's ALIVE! I don't want her to be stretched out in a coffin the next time I see her. I haven't said good-bye!

Someone once told me that when you marry someone from another country, it gets really tough when your parents get old and ill. I'm feeling that now. I don't want to be so far away from Mum and Dad. I envy Alison who is spending time every day with her aged mother.

I am sad.

Monday, August 07, 2006

August 7

Dusting the house was one of my Saturday morning chores when growing up. The task was accomplished with a rag sprayed with "Mr Sheen". Now I use a lovely feather duster purchased here, and the job takes way less time.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

August 6

I call it a quickunpick, because that's what my mum called it. Was/is that a brand name? Here in America it's known as a seam ripper, I believe.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

August 5

August 4

It's Blind Contour First Friday again, and this time the theme is "COOL". Check out other, cooler, contributions at Inkfinger.

August 3

I spent most of the day at the Young American Bindery in Compton, waiting to approve the perfect binding on my current print job. No more press checks for a while after this, until mid September when I have four in a row.

August 2

I've been thinking about how we grow our children with love. It's not just that our love for them gives them the self-confidence to BE to their full potential. It's that, by our example, they learn how to be loving, and hopefully will grow up to be awesome lovers themselves.

I was very loved by my parents ... I'm so grateful for that.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

August 1

I’ve spent the last few days on press at Burdge, established in 1923. In their conference room they have a large old leather-bound (with Nigerian goatskin) book produced by the Stevens-Nelson Paper Corporation of New York, circa 1954, to showcase some of the world’s best hand made papers.

The introduction says, in part:

“This is a catalogue of the finest printing and art papers in the world. They are made by hand, or by hand in conjunction with the mould machine, in a tradition that is centuries old—not because hand work is quaint or romantic, but simply because man has not been able to devise any other means of manufacture that will produce such superlative qualities. No mass-produced papers have the true look and feel of excellence, the strength in both directions, and the genuine laid formation that is an integral part of the sheet rather than a pattern pressed into one side by artificial means.

The richness of textures, patterns and tones, and the total impression of superb quality created by these papers, are achieved by hand labor. These sheets are made slowly, with great skill and care. Because slow, small-scaled production is rare in the United States, these papers have to be imported from mills in Western Europe and Japan where manual skills have been developed over the centuries by long, careful apprenticeships. The Italian mill represented here was founded in 1268 and is probably the oldest in western civilization. One of the French mills was founded in 1492, and one of the English mills has made currency paper for more countries than any other mill in the world …”

Unfortunately the only mill names I recognise are Fabriano and Arches. According to the price list in the back of the book, a ream of Fabriano lightweight cover, 26” x 40”, cost $60. And of course quantity discounts and prices for special makings were available on request.

The more than 100 different papers in the book are printed with wonderful graphics and illustrations, via multiple processes: letterpress, offset, blind-stamped, engraving, gravure, stone-lithography, and foil stamping. It’s a treasure!

I copied (kinda) one page that particularly appealed to me. The original was designed by Walter Howe, with illustration by Joseph Low, and was printed letterpress at The Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, Chicago, Illinois, on handmade HOSHO. Yum.