May 30, 2008

What A Mess

Workrooms can be fun to visit and it's easy to find photos on the Web of sewing rooms. Before Googling it, be forewarned that sewing can be a sloppy, cluttered, possibly even junky hobby, and viewing said rooms could be an affront to your interior design sensibilities. I was appalled that some seamstresses didn't pick up a little before snapping the shutter; then I took a look at my own sewing room and was shocked again. Take my computer desk: the knickknacks that surround my monitor are cute and meaningful to me, some even useful, but do they have to go all the way around the desk leaving little usuable surface?

Tien and I talk about this often. We Americans think we need stuff. It’s a materialistic mindset that “more is better.” I don’t know how the Japanese and the Europeans live in such dinky places. When space is at a premium you learn to make do. It’s a constant struggle for me – I’m always telling myself not to buy anymore fabric until I’ve used up what I have.

“The Not So Big House" was a Christmas book from Tien. It makes me rethink how we live. Honesly, our living room and dining room are wasted; we eat in our kitchen nook and watch TV in the family room. I'm going downstairs now to reread this book. It is linked here and the companion book is here.

A seed doesn't need much space either. It can fall into a crack and flourish. The other day I found this new petunia plant outside our doorstep, near where I planted them in the ground a year ago.

May 28, 2008

June, "Asian Images in Film"

You know how I feel about watching Turner Classic Movies -- on all day, on all the time. In June TCM will do a month-long film retrospective entitled "RACE AND HOLLYWOOD: ASIAN IMAGES IN FILM." I'm pretty excited. Here is their description.

TCM will devote the month of June to an extensive, in-depth look at how Asians are depicted on film with RACE AND HOLLYWOOD: ASIAN IMAGES IN FILM. The event follows TCM’s highly successful 2006 look at African-American images in film and its 2007 examination of gay images in film. Joining TCM’s Robert Osborne to host RACE AND HOLLYWOOD: ASIAN IMAGES IN FILM will be Dr. Peter X. Feng, author of the books Screening Asian Americans and Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video. In addition, several talents from the world of film, literature and academia will take part in the festival, including filmmaker Wayne Wang, actress Ming Wen, writer Amy Tan, actress Rosalind Chao, actor George Takei, actress France Nuyen, actress Nancy Kwan, actor James Shigeta, actress Miiko Taka, film scholar Elaine Mae Woo, film producer Janet Yang and actress Lauren Tom.

May 27, 2008

Chemotherapy Caps

It's been a while since my last post about chemo caps. I've added decorative yo-yos to some of them -- very cute! They will go to the UCSD Cancer Center. I met (by phone) a very appreciative Christine Ortiz in the clinical trials department -- she will accept my donation of 40+ hand-knitted hats and make sure they go to the support services people. I'm glad (and relieved) that someone understands my intentions.

May 26, 2008

Why Waste?

I have these new Lasik'd eyes, right? My near-vision is gone (as we knew would occur) and a magnifying mirror is in order. Unwilling to pay $60 for the new one I want, thrift gave way to creativity: my oval footed tabletop mirror and a round double-sided mirror could be combined:

Oval mirror removed from brass frame and discarded. Round magnifying mirror removed from double-sided frame. Dremel tool used to carve notches in magnifying mirror to fit into frame.

Trim glued to sharp edges of round magnifying mirror.

"Interviewing" fabric backgrounds -- dark brown wool or gold silk?

How about two layers of shibori silk scraps hand-dyed by Doshi? A layer of Wonder-Under adheres it to the oval frame-back.

Voila! It's not perfect, but I saved myself $60. Now I can buy more fabric.

May 25, 2008

Yesterday's Show

My buddy Fong loaned us her canopy and, otherwise, Nancy Tyrell and I would have been selling damp merchandise due to late morning rain. The show was small (~25 artists), new (third time) and in a really nice setting -- bamboo plants were a perfect backdrop for my Chinese and Japanese fabrics. The location was further east than coastal shows I usually do. We were treated to the aroma of chickens which only livestock can produce and sometimes blew our way.

Our booth was tucked into a corner and folks walked by without notice. Nancy set up her vibrant quilts along the path and people started to come in. Many who saw them were struck by their color. They're hard to resist.

Bill Tall runs the nursery where the show was held and he's fun, friendly and generous (fee-free for vendors). Sales were slow but Nancy and I had a good time. City Farmers Nursery will host another show in the fall; keep your eyes open for the notice.

May 24, 2008

Stand By Me

Pretty corny title, eh? These two Yoruba dolls have gotten plenty of attention but no takers yet. Why? Because they were wall flowers, or leaners, or hangers-on and didn't stand on their own... now they're on their own two feet. Maybe someone will adopt them at the Art in the Garden show. If it doesn't rain, Nancy Tyrell and I will be there -- we hope to see you!

Art in the Garden
4382 Home Avenue
San Diego, California
9a til 4p

May 23, 2008

Basket for Knitting

My rag basket is done. Tien saw it and asked for his own so he can practice chipping a golf ball into it, heehee! The rim/opening is intentionally narrower, but the side walls are a little crooked (I'm so critical of my own work). The challenge is making baskets perfectly symmetrical. Dimensions are 6"H x 10"W. I will enjoy putting in-progress chemotherapy caps inside.

Hmm, I just thought of something: maybe the next basket should be intentionally crooked. Wonder what that would be like?

May 22, 2008

Cotton Rag Basket

The basket now has the beginnings of walls. I would have liked to spend more time on it, but it'll come. Something about making these is calming, even with the physical tension of squeezing/shaping/pulling required to build it. I have enough materials remaining after this to make two more baskets, possibly for show sales.

Just thought of something: a small and shallow house-shaped basket, turned on its side, for a 3-dimensional project! Okay, hard to describe... I'll just have to make it.

May 21, 2008

Working Eyes = Busy Hands

Lasik healing felt great and the sensation of a loose eyelash is gone. I don't know what is waking me at 5a each day (eyedrops?), but I started early. Instead of using the reading glasses, a 5X magnification lamp is the perfect visual aid for details.

Please don't laugh. This is the finished paint-by-numbers kit. I have no paint-mixing skills, so whatever the results were, I used 'em. Initially I diligently stayed within the lines. That became tiresome after several days, so I started blotching on the paint. Close enough was good enough and I wanted to finish. That 'close enough' stuff made it more fun. Hmm, now I get it: this was a lesson in loosening up.

Two Yoruba dolls have not found new homes despite receiving plenty of attention at art shows. Perhaps because they do not stand on their own? These pine plaques received a collaged coat of gel medium and pages from old French fiction. Next, the dolls will be secured on top.

Lastly, I started a large rag basket. This is the base. Side walls are next. I love making these. This will be for knitting projects. As you see, Coppélia likes to hang out. I love her quiet company.

May 20, 2008

I'm In Love

I test drove the Baby Lock Embellisher felting machine and it was a dream. I brought my own wool backing, wool and acrylic yarns, and roving -- this is what I came up with. The only thing preventing my purchase is knowing Tien will hollar at me, and with good reason since my studio is quite full. Heck, I even hollar at myself when I'm cleaning up in here. Still, I want it!

I am not sure if the photo is blurry or if it's my new eyes...

May 19, 2008

Art in the Garden

Nancy Tyrell and I will be strutting our stuff this Saturday at City Farmers Nursery. Artist pal Kristal Molina turned us onto this show. It'll be great fun to exhibit outdoors for a change, with sunscreen on, of course! Please join us if you can.

I'm impatient for my Lasik eyes to heal. My vision is fabulous for distance, but up close... well, it's far less than desirable for up-close work. Time heals all wounds, so I gotta ease up.

May 17, 2008


I bought fun/cute reading glasses, two for the price of one at Rite Aid. I'm not confident that I selected the correct strength, +1.25, but it'll do until I go back to Shiley Eye Center for my one week follow up. I haven't done any sewing or reading for the past few days and would love to get back to work in my studio, however, I've knitted a couple of hats which doesn't require much sight. My new vision will feel more complete once I have an overall feel for my entire range, far and near -- does that make sense? Thanks also to Glenn who has been leaving comments. Has seeing psychedelic black/white lines during surgery been reported by other Lasik patients, or is my inner vision just active?

May 16, 2008

Lasik, Post Op

I will be able to sew again. I CAN SEE ACROSS THE ROOM WITHOUT GLASSES. Actually, while walking out of surgery my vision was already improved. It wasn't the blurry haze that I am used to.

The clinic gave me a valium but it wore off quickly and they gave me another. Surgery was mildly uncomfortable and there was no pain to speak of – thank goodness for numbing eye drops! A flap was cut in the cornea and flipped back for laser correction. The laser work smelled like burning hair. That's when I saw black and white lines in geometric shapes. I was in/out of surgery in what seemed like 10 mins. When we got home, pressure in my eye area was awful and I whimpered like a big baby. Two ibuprofens eased it. My eyes teared like a river and burned slightly. When I woke up hours later, there was no pain but I COULD SEE CLEARLY! I'm still light-sensitive.

The clinic gave me the white bear to hug while on the op bed. Tien said I clutched the bear pretty hard! I thought I could be a big girl about it, but was pretty nervous and relieved to have Tien stay with me the entire time. I've been wearing those big grey goggles from the moment surgery ended, through sleep and all this morning up to my checkup this afternoon. Eyeglasses used over the years will go to those in need in third world countries. Steroids, antibiotics, and synthetic tears all go into my eyes, plus another drop which may/may not be Restatis® (dry eyes) for a clinical trial; my participation reduces surgery costs. No squeezing eyes shut for 24 hours, no exercise for 3 days, no swimming or water in the eyes for 2 weeks, no pressure on the eyes for 3 months.

As expected, my near vision is gone. At my first follow up appt this afternoon, I show normal corneal swelling which will go down in a few days and my vision tested at 20/12.5 -- AMAZING! This weekend Tien and I will shop for cute reading glasses and a magnifying makeup mirror. Good thing I can knit w/o watching. I'm supposed to rest my eyes, but I feel antsy and want to see life through my new vision.

May 15, 2008


This afternoon I will have Lasik surgery in both eyes to correct poor vision. I have long been interested in the improvement, but would not consider it for fear of losing the ability to sew -- no one's gonna cut into my corneas! Aging has caused my eyesight to become poor enough to go through with it. Wish me luck!

May 14, 2008

MOP Buttons

I bought these Italian-made mother of pearl buttons from Zuffanelli in Florence. The family that runs it has sold stockings, buttons, trim and lace here since 1842 -- that's a lonnggg time. Their walnut cabinetry is gorgeous. How lovely they would be lining the walls of my sewing room. The shop is across from the Orsanmichele church of Florence's craft and trade guilds. How fitting!

Maximillian, goodbye, you've had a long life of many, many dog-years. Rest in peace, Max, and may you have all the milk bones you ever want.

May 12, 2008

"Me" Time

Remember paint-by-numbers? Maybe you're not as old as I am. When I was a kid, these were popular and I was intrigued. Now that I'm doing it, I realize it is harder than I thought -- I'm not used to the paintbrush and its subtleties. What I knew would be tough is mixing colors! I'm having fun and that's what counts, although the finished painting will likely be tossed into a pile and forgotten.

May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, my Mom-in-law and to all mothers reading my blog!

Nancy and I had a booth in a different spot in Carmel Valley Artists show. The location gave us excellent visibility at the entrance, however, our nation's economy showed with slower sales. Still, we had fun and made good contacts.

If you are interested in any of Nancy's quilts visible in the photograph above, please write to me. Some are still available.

May 9, 2008

Carmel Valley Artists

On Saturday, just before Mother's Day, my second sale will be held in the Karl Strauss Brewery in a Japanese garden setting. Over 30 artists will show their wares, including Yours Truly with lavender pillows and art dolls. Alongside me, several of Nancy Tyrell's vibrant quilts will be on display (see photo) -- here is a chance to call one your own!

Saturday, May 10 -- 9:30a to 3:30p
Carmel Valley Artists Show & Sale
at Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens
9675 Scranton Road
San Diego, California

May 7, 2008


Now that weeks and weeks of self-pressured inventory sewing are over, I'm taking a breather. It comes in the form of sleeping late, browsing the bookstore, having a meal with pal Sheryl (who is moving away from SD), watching movies with Tien, catching up on paperwork (ceaseless!), going through magazines. Ahh, it's a pleasure!

Thanks to's statistical website data, I discovered someone in the Ukraine posted my basket images on their blog. It's in Ukrainian, so I used Google's translation function to read the accompanying comments. I believe the posting comes in the form of admiration, as my work sits alongside pieces that are fabulous. I love making my baskets.

May 5, 2008

Talmadge Art Show

This is me at my booth on Sunday. What a fun show it was! I like chatting with people who appreciate handmade goods. Seeing my regular customers is a treat and I'm grateful for their return visits; some of them feel like friends now.

I was happy to be space-neighbors with Kristal Molina who had the cutest display in her booth with a doll house that had it's own craft room and an Asian-inspired bedroom -- she and her friend stayed up until 3a making the furniture. We traded goods too: her earrings for my lavender pillows. She makes cool stuff.

A Japanese woman taught me something interesting about a piece of fabric in my collection. This green and orange shibori was tied into a mosquito pattern. If you look carefully, you can see a flittering bug in each square! So much work goes into Japanese tie-dyed fabric and I am always blown away by the intricate patterns.

May 3, 2008

Rayessa in Art Doll Quarterly!

Remember how excited I was when the managing editor of Art Doll Quarterly asked to borrow my doll for the magazine? The doll is in this Summer's issue! The clue was receiving two issues of the same magazine in the mail, one of which was addressed with the code word "compart" that I took to mean complimentary to artist.

After flipping crazily through the magazine looking for an orange doll, I discovered TWO full pages. I love the photos they took. They really covered all of Rayessa's best assets.

The doll's name was derived from the tropical fish wrasse for it's blue and orange coloration. From that I came up with Rayssea, and the magazine changed it to Rayessa, which I actually like better.

May 1, 2008

Ahh, Relief!

Can you believe it's May already? Happy May Day! I wasn't going to write, but show preparations are going well and I can breath/post again.

Mostly, I'm excited about The Anti-VooDoo Dolls. Each one has a clear plastic pocket sewn to her body. Inside the pocket is a red felt heart which has been stitched and beaded with great care. Give love instead of poking with pins to inflict pain!

Here is a close-up of one of the pockets. The heart is removable should you need to replace it with, say, a peace sign or other positive influence.