The Inaugural Pokey Pour! (Of cement…not wine)

I could not sleep at all last night, I had gotten news that the Big Pour I have been waiting months for was scheduled to happen this morning at 7:00 AM sharp.

But just a little after 6:00, I heard the creak of the opening gate, followed by a slowly traversing parade of trucks and a crane making their way uphill, and so I shot out of bed with camera in hand.

Good morning April 15, 2015! It was Tax Day, but this day marked the pouring of the foundation for Crafting a Life, LLC.

Sunrise

x

Crane in place

x

Starting to pour

 

Despite dealing with last-minute tax business, there was every reason to smile on this day, including the site of this candy-cane cement crane complete with a fun retro font/logo!

Candy cane

 

x

x

The night before at the 11th hour, I invited friends on Facebook to text or message me their artful wishes, hopes, and goals that I wanted to tuck into the foundation before the cement was going to be poured. Some people posted their thoughts publicly, many sent messages to me privately. I printed them all–seven pages total–sealed in an envelope, and placed into the foundation this morning.

Crafting a Life

 

x

I explained to my contractor the gist of the contents and how important this envelope was, and when someone thought to remove it just before the cement was being poured, he waved his hands and said, “NO, NO, NO! That envelope absolutely belongs there!” You can see the envelope on the lower left corner of this video…


x

Smoothing

x

smoothing 2

x

Smoothing3

After the foundation was leveled, they wrapped it in plastic for sealing and protection from further construction. The plastic covering will not be taken off until the art barn is completely finished. To me it is a symbol, a wrapped present, a reminder what a gift all of this is.

Wrapped

x

I am eager to unwrap, to unveil, but in the meantime, there is a raven that has been watchful all day from the towering trees above, and when everyone left, he stood guard. He and I have been greeting each other since I got here in January. I like to think he is my protector on this project.

x

Raven

I am having a little Pokey Pour tonight in honor of this day. :)

Cheers,

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of Spring (Finally)!

Ooooooh, it’s here! My favorite season:

x
DSC_0477 2

x

Below is a collage of springtime images I’ve taken over the last couple of weeks. (One picture may seem a little out of place, though.)

PicMonkey Collage

But to me, the picture on the lower right symbolizes new beginnings, too…because when they put a porta-potty on a construction site, you know this (:::insert profane word:::) is getting real! :)

Construction is starting to really take off for the art barn, and once the foundation is poured, I will have a definitive launch date and can share more plans. But in the meantime–when not filling out a lot of paperwork, number-crunching, re-crunching, re-crunching again, and doing all of the behind-the-scenes stuff to get a new business going…I am determined to enjoy every step of this journey.

x

And Clarences agrees.

Clarence

x

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

A Most Interesting Sight To Wake Up To…

I had a neighbor drop in today. Literally. I kid you not, a little before 8:00 AM this morning, a hot air ballon landed on my property where the art barn is being built. The dogs went nuts, I went nuts, and barefoot and in a pink robe, I ran up the hill to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing (and thinking maybe indeed I had too much Boz Scaggs wine the night before).

The guys in the hot air balloon upon seeing me: “Ahoy there!”

Me, scratching my (bed) head: “Um…ahoy?”

Them: “You don’t mind if we land in your yard, do you? You have a nice flat area at the top of your hill. We will radio in a truck, fold up the balloon, and be on our merry way.”

Me, groggy, needing a lot more coffee: “Um, yeah, I guess that would be ok.You may want to watch out for nails and stuff. It’s a construction site.”

dropping in

 

And so they radioed in their colleague in the truck, and when he arrived, he helped pull them to the ideal landing location. (Notice guy pulling hard on the rope on the lower left.)

over fence

 

Almost there…

landed

 

Landed.

on site

 

Then they laid down a huge blue tarp to later put the deflated balloon on.

tarp

 

And began deflating the balloon to fold and put on the truck.

deflating

 

Once folded, they left. It only took about five minutes and I got their business card. Nice guys.

And that is how I woke up today.

Some day I will get used to this kind of thing.

Maybe…

It’s Starting

It’s been an exhausting yet exhilarating few weeks. We are getting settled, unpacking boxes, acclimating to a new time zone, a winter that consists of green mountains, and watching cherry red trucks haul dirt up the hill for the art barn foundation.

Moving Dirt

I thought (a bit belatedly) to host a Valentine’s Day Groundbreaking party, and planned for a local affair but I was really thrilled that some out-of-towners came too, and made a weekend of it!

 

 

Friend I have known forever came over, too…

DSC_0465

 

As did their parents who I have known most of my life.

DSC_0518

 

We ate a lot of cake!

DSC_0512

Quilters hung out with non-quilters (in efforts to lure them to the dark side).

DSC_0453

And the strongest woman I know, Yvonne Porcella, made the trek, too. Founder of SAQA and one of my greatest mentors, I was so honored that she came.

Her humor nearly surpasses her strength…

DSC_0515

 

She also wanted to made it very clear to me that she got dirt under her (freshly manicured) nails during the groundbreaking.

DSC_0504

 

 

 

DSC_0451

 

Alex Anderson came too! (Below, far right)

DSC_0470

And more old friends from high school…

DSC_0461

 

There was the ceremonial dig. (The pink silk scarf on the shovel was hand-dyed by Yvonne.)

DSC_0490

 

Others got into the spirit of it, too.

DSC_0500

 

And we laughed. A lot!

DSC_0507

 

 

DSC_0536

 

 

And took advantage of a surprisingly warm day.

DSC_0455

 

 

Some of the guys…

DSC_0545

 

It is really starting! I can’t wait to post progress pictures.

How a Quilter Takes a Hike

I recently moved from Houston to Napa Valley, driving nearly 2000 miles solo (with three dogs in my backseat). It was challenging, but looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.IMG_0679

I did have two offers for co-pilots, but frankly…as a pet-loving quilter with a lot of precious cargo, I responded to them, “Where the heck would I fit you in the car?”

A Quilter on the Move

What I refused to put on a moving truck, nor put in the temperature-controlled cargo of an airplane:

-3  Dogs

-2 BERNINAS

-1 thermofax machine

-An enormous suitcase containing my most precious quilts, some made by family, some purchased, one by me.

-Jewelry that had a lot of sentimental value

-Crucial documents

-A backpack with jeans, t-shirts, a toothbrush and other essentials.

 

For every night I was on the road (and no, I didn’t drive past sundown), I brought all of this cargo into the hotel room. It meant a lot of trips from car to room between pets, dog food, supplies, quilts, and docs.

IMG_0693

The  hours of driving each day–and being on guard while driving–were pretty exhausting for all of us…

 

IMG_0714

But we saw some very interesting sights along the way, including this Exxon station in West Texas, where, understandably, while I filled the gas tank, I couldn’t let the dogs out to relieve themselves:

FullSizeRender 3

 

We encountered a wreck on I-10, 90 miles east of El Paso. I would have been stuck in this for five hours (plus) while they righted this semi that had tipped over and blocked both lanes, but with the help of some empathetic truck drivers, I was directed onto the feeder, and again on my merry way.

FullSizeRender 4

 

After about 23 hours driving and two nights in hotels, I encountered this sign (below).  Admittedly, seeing this was emotional, and I cried. It had been 26 years since I drove my own car in my home state.

FullSizeRender 5

 

The next day, after driving up I-5,  I was on my property in Napa and saw these pink little flags whipping in the wind. They mark the art barn for Crafting a Life.

 

I cried again.

IMG_0733

 

The next morning, I woke to this greeting.

IMG_0783

And I cried. Again.

I found this cluster of lemons on a tree on my property.

IMG_0850

You’ll be happy to know, I didn’t cry. (I just plucked ’em.)

Later, Clarence discovered his first hot air balloon and…he cried. (Video can be found on my Instagram feed.)

IMG_0840

 

And I let the dogs out to run run run. And we all cried…tears of sheer joy and gratitude.

 

Great news! I’m done crying. And better yet…I’m almost done unpacking! And soon ready to get busy and on with the Next Big Life and Business Adventure, here in Napa Valley.

We made it.

Cheers all around,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward and Looking Back

I have gotten a lot of great business and life advice in 2014, but the below quote I spotted in Magic Kingdom might be one of my favorites:

FullSizeRender

 

 

2014 was a crazy, whirlwind year for me, yet ended on a very high note.

2014

 

I traveled the world; met one of my favorite actors in London when I accidentally ran onto the set of “Downton Abbey;” I witnessed my high school best friend get married in Maui to the greatest guy; and also nearly lost my hand to a hungry swan in Zurich. I also decided to take a leap of faith and go home to California and start a new endeavor, after 26 years away.

This past year Allison Stilwell left all of us with vital advice: Do what you love—nothing else matters.

That’s damn right.

And my college friend Fr. TJ Martinez also had a motto that he said over and over and over: Do the difficult now, and the impossible soon after.

I feel they bear repeating:

Do the difficult now, and the impossible soon after.

And do what you love- nothing else matters.

Pokey

My best wishes for a very happy new year!

Bring on 2015,

 

 

 

Demystifying Walking Foot Quilting

Confessions of a bad Godmother: a few months ago I completed a quilt top in Red Sox colors for my 11-year-old Godson, a devout Red Sox fan, but I’ve been procrastinating on the quilting because I have been waiting for that brainstorm for the perfect quilting motifs that will give the quilt a clean, masculine look–one that a budding baseball star would be proud to have in his bedroom!

IMG_0583

Johnny at a Red Sox game (I think) when he was about seven.

 Fortunately for me, Catherine Redford has come to my rescue with her new DVD for walking foot quilting:

redford_2

 

I bought a walking foot last year and I can’t rave enough about it–it has made my quilting so much easier– but there was a lot I didn’t know I could do with walking foot quilting until I watched Catherine’s DVD.

In the DVD she discusses:

• Mastering the walking foot to create even, straight, and curved quilting designs
• Creating gridded quilting patterns, including straight grids and plaids
• Adding texture and interest with perfect square and round spirals 
• Finishing your quilts with professional results

 

Having had Catherine as a guest on Quilting Arts TV as well as being a seasoned demonstrator in Open Studios, I can vouch that Catherine has a natural, easy-going teaching style that takes the fear and stress out of quilting, (including quilting those pesky perfect spirals).

After watching the DVD, I have decided to use plaid quilting for this Red Sox quilt. The quilt wont be done by Christmas but it WILL be done by Opening Day!

IMG_0581

 

Go sneak over to Catherine Redford’s blog as she is going to be giving away a copy of her Modern Machine Quilting.

I’d Rather Be Printing Than Packing

Well, I have a bit of an update: I have decided to fast-track my move to the Frisco Bay and make the drive next month. This is a bit sooner than I had originally thought, but I just don’t rest well on my laurels and I am ready to embark on the next leg of my life adventure. I know I will make quicker progress out in Napa, “glamping,”  than trying to build the business remotely from my house in Houston…so California here I come!

What’s slowing me down as I pack is a dilemma I know other surface design aficionados face:  I am surrounded by bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, styrofoam peanuts for goodness sake…all great stuff with which to low-tech print!

I recently received Julie Booth’s book for review, Fabric Printing at Home, a great starter book for those new to fabric printing, and a wonderful refresher for those of us who need a little coaxing and coaching to re-evaluate everyday items as potentially exciting objects for printing.

Fabric Printing at Home

All of the ideas in this encyclopedic book are creative and low-tech (meaning they are on the cheap), and for those with restless kiddies at home over the holidays, this is a comprehensive resource to inspire an afternoon (…or two or three) of indoor printing activities.

I do have a copy to give away, and I’ll randomly select a winner early next week from those who respond to the following question:

What is the object you have used to print with that has yielded the most surprising results? (I will say I am particularly eager to hear this answer!)

Now back to packing…

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

 

I am honored to share that I am a part of the “100 Artists to Fight Cancer” to help Virginia Spiegel reach her overall goal of $250,000 for the American Cancer Society! She’s just $10,000 away! Mark your calendar—10:00 AM CST on February 4, 2015 is when you could win a piece of art from one of your 100 favorite fiber artists. (Details can be found here.)

FFAC2015logo

 

If you have just a couple of minutes to read further, I’d like to tell you about the piece of art I am going to make, and why.

For 100 Artists, I am making a piece in honor of my college friend Fr. TJ Martinez, who at the age of 44 lost his battle against cancer just this past Friday.

cristoreymartinez-jpg

TJ’s smiling face was was one of the very first to greet me when I arrived at Boston College. During our college days, we were both rather involved in our undergraduate government; both were a part of a two-year leadership program; both helped run a student center for activities on campus; and even dated for a short spell (but realized we were better as good friends). He was also my confirmation sponsor, and when the confirmation mass was over, he gave me a giftwrapped book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss.

And the places he went. He earned not one…not two…not three…not four…but FIVE post-graduate degrees, including a law degree from UT-Austin and a Master’s at Harvard (where, not surprisingly, he gave the commencement address).

A man of deep faith, TJ eventually became a Jesuit priest, and his most stunning feat to date: raised millions of dollars in Houston to found a college prep school for children from impoverished families—children who otherwise most likely would never have dreamed of going to college.

3-12-09

His school, Cristo Rey Jesuit has had two graduating classes thus far…and, wonderfully, all of the students have gone on to college!

This past January TJ invited Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, to keynote a luncheon at his school that I was fortunate enough to attend.

cesarmillan_facebook

 

The Dog Whisperer’s presence in Houston caught the attention of the local media. Here’s a video clip of TJ with Cesar: http://www.click2houston.com/news/dog-whisperer-cesar-milan-visits-local-high-school/23950332

At that luncheon TJ said something so funny, so embarrassing to my entire table. With his arm around me, he shouted, “Hey everybody, this is my friend, POKEY! We went to BOSTON COLLEGE together! We dated but she turned me DOWN…so I had to go to JESUS!”

(TJ could be cheeky too.)

That is the last time I saw my friend. In the spring, TJ was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, a diagnosis he accepted with grace. His message to all after he was diagnosed was not to be sad, but to live joyfully.

I am choosing the joyous colors of TJ’s school (with a little pink thrown in) for my 100 Artists piece:

TJ's Fabrics

 

I don’t know what I am going to create yet, but I know what the title will be: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

That title feels pretty perfect, just like my perfect, always smiling friend.

1990

Homecoming Dance, 1990. (TJ wasn’t just an incredible scholar but he could cut up the rug pretty good, too!)

 

I promise I’ll do right by you with my artist piece, TJ!

In loving memory,

Pokey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Allison Stilwell: Do What You Love

I feel very blessed, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to go to Florida this past weekend to celebrate the life of Allison Stilwell at the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford.

Tribute sign

A whimsical and colorful outsider artist, Allison had a huge fan base, and her art graced the pages of Cloth Paper Scissors, Quilting Arts, Studios, Art Doll Quarterly, among other publications. She and her sister Tracy also were hilarious(!) guests on Quilting Arts TV. Simply put, Allison’s humor, her unwavering joy de vivre were evident in every piece of art she made, and people couldn’t get enough.

Unknown

Artgirlz and sisters Tracy and Allison Stilwell in Houston at Make It University a few years back.

 

When I found out Allison passed away this past May, like so many, I was devastated. But like artist Lyric Kinard had written to me online: our lives are better for having known her. I try to hold onto that thought, and I also think about the motto that Allison lived by:

Do What You Love

The celebration this past Saturday was extremely well attended; people came from near and far to celebrate and remember her. Below, people are starting to gather in the art gallery.

Crowds arriving

 

There were a lot of much needed hugs…

Hugs

 

Every wall in the gallery was adorned with art by the Artgirlz.

Hearts

 

And tables overflowed with fabric hearts, art dolls, pillows, pins, buttons, and other arty bits:

Display of goodies

 

x

art dolls

 

x

pillows

x

Broken

 

After the ceremony where poetry was read and people tearfully–yet joyously–spoke, I gathered with Tracy and Allison’s life partner, Midge Baudouin in front of Allison’s fabric collaged self-portrait. It was hard to look at this portrait and not lose it (which I did). Allison started this self-portrait but never finished it, and like so many of us can relate with our own UFO’s, she had rolled it up and put it away.  After Allison’s passing, Tracy and Midge desperately scoured the house, and when they unearthed the half-finished canvas, completed it together.

Kiss from Tracy

 

x

Love to Allison

 

This life celebration–I know–is exactly what Allison would have wanted.

And she will live on in all of our hearts.

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,008 other followers